Many deities, one beloved

It is so tempting to claim that polyamory and polytheism are a natural combination… After all, they both start with poly, and they both involve loving many different beings in diverse ways.

However, it is possible to affirm the existence of many deities, but have a devotion to only one, or only a few. That’s henotheism.

There is not an automatic link or correlation between polyamory and polytheism. If you say there is, you are erasing the existence of polyamorous monotheists, and monogamous polytheists. Please don’t.

It is possible to be a monogamous polytheist, or a polyamorous monotheist. I am monogamous and polytheist. I regard being monogamous as similar to a sexual orientation. I always assumed that I was polyamorous and then discovered otherwise. I tried and failed to be polyamorous. I am definitely monogamous (and madly in love) and it is nothing to do with jealousy and everything to do with love.  I also know some polyamorous Unitarians and UUs – tolerant and inclusive monotheists who happen to be polyamorous. Friends who are polyamorous report that they have always felt that way. I have always thought that I would be polyamorous, but in practice I have mostly been monogamous, and I have enjoyed it more than polyamory, when I was with the right person.

I fully support the efforts of polyamorous people to get their relationships recognised and to get the security of some kind of contract, up to and including marriage, if that is what they want to do. (Some opponents of polyamory have argued that this will open the door to unequal relationships – but a monogamous relationship does not guarantee equality, sadly.) I also fully support the right of polyamorous people not to get married, if that is what they choose.

I have many polyamorous friends and 100% support their right to be polyamorous, and have defended polyamory to the hilt in arguments about it. But I personally am NOT polyamorous.

But please please please don’t try to claim that polytheism and polyamory go together like apple pie and cream. And don’t dismiss all monogamous people as motivated by jealousy and insecurity. People who are monogamous prefer to focus all our sexual energy on one person, because that is the way our sexuality works. My inner fire burns for one person only, and that is my beloved. We trust each other completely to be around other people of either gender, but we reserve our sexual interactions for each other. I find that this makes our connection all the more powerful.

Obviously the issue is clouded by the fact that monogamy is assumed as a cultural default, so people rarely have to come out as monogamous. Most people have to discover they are polyamorous and then work out how to make it work. I am sure there are more people who are naturally inclined toward polamory who are trying awkwardly to fit in the cultural mould of monogamy. However, as someone who assumed from the outset that I was polyamorous, but then discovered that I am monogamous, I am convinced that a person’s orientation towards poly or mono exists at a deeper level of the psyche than mere choice, and is a sexual/romantic orientation in the same way as one’s preference for opposite-sex or same-sex partners, or both.

A Queer Pagan Reading List (2015)

Here are a bunch of books for the LGBTQ Pagan reader. I have either read these and can recommend them, or I have read another book by the same author, and can therefore recommend the ones on this list.

Collection of some Contemporary Pagan & Male Nude Sculptures created by Malcolm Lidbury

Collection of some Contemporary Pagan & Male Nude Sculptures created by Malcolm Lidbury (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Gay

Inclusive

Kink

Lesbian

LGBT

Polyamory

Queer

Transgender

Other people’s lists of recommended books

Online resources

Anti-kink and transphobia have no place in Paganism

Z Budapest’s latest hate-filled screed makes me really angry.

[Update: actual link to actual comment]

It was feminists like Budapest who made it hard for people, especially feminists, to come out as kinky in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. With their statements that you are a failure as a feminist if you engage in kink, especially dominance and submission play, they made a lot of kinky feminists feel alone, marginalised, and ashamed. It is hard enough to come to terms with being kinky in the prevailing culture without having your own communities attacking you. People in kink-excluding communities, who have to remain in the closet, live in fear of being exposed as kinky, and feel marginalised, alone, and attacked. Their membership of the community feels conditional upon not coming out as kinky. Endless research studies have shown how damaging it is for LGBT people to remain closeted – surely the same applies to kinksters?

Similarly, the biologically essentialist view of being a woman held by many second-wave feminists made it very hard for those who are gender-variant. Their rhetoric about all penetrative sex being rape obfuscated the issues around rape, made things difficult for lesbians who enjoy penetration, and for heterosexual and bisexual women who enjoy sex with men. Even other lesbians in relationships were attacked for “aping men”.

This is in spite of the fact that kinksters have been part of the queer liberation movement from the outset. In spite of the fact that the BDSM community is very strong on consent (obviously there are some who don’t walk the talk, but that is the case in all communities). The watchwords of kinksters are ‘Safe, Sane, and Consensual’.

The power play in kink involving dominance and submission (D/s) subverts and undermines the power dynamics of conventional power structures. Many people find the role-play aspects of BDSM liberating. All the women I know who are involved in D/s (whether dommes or subs) are powerful women in their own right. And D/s has very little to do with gender, in any case.

The use of pain as a tool for spiritual and psychological transformation is an ancient shamanistic practice, and its effects – psychological, spiritual, and biochemical – are well-understood. There is a reasonable amount of research on this.

In addition, various therapists have written on the psychological aspects of kink, and why it is not harmful for those who enjoy it.

I would argue that kink, polyamory, and monogamy are sexual orientations in the same way as homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, and pansexuality. That means that for a kinky person to try not to be kinky is just as painful and impossible as for a gay person to try to be straight.

It may not be your cup of tea, but at least make an effort to understand it before you write it off. In the BDSM community, there is a saying, “Your kink is not my kink, but that’s OK”. If only other communities were as accepting and welcoming of diversity as that.

Generally speaking, the Pagan community is accepting and welcoming of diversity, including sexual orientation, polyamory, kink, and gender variance. Let’s keep it that way.

I call upon conference organisers not to book Z Budapest as a speaker while she continues with this hate-filled rhetoric against trans people and the BDSM community.

Further reading on BDSM