One of the reasons I'm blogging under a pseudonym is that David and I practice polyamory; we openly date other people. Or semi-openly, anyway. We're not exactly "out" to our families, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if they found out. My main reason for wanting anonymity is that I don't want to jeopardize my husband's career if he were to need to change jobs.
Even though I'm safely behind a pseudonym, though, I felt some hesitation about talking about it. When you're part of a relatively small subculture, it's hard not to feel like you're an ambassador for the subculture. Even if nobody but my friends ever read this blog, I still feel like part of the public face of polyamory. I also suffer from severe depression and a few other issues I'm sure I'll talk about later. I've always felt that public perception is that openly poly people are more likely than average to suffer from these issues. The last thing we need is more "evidence" out there that poly people are a bunch of crazies. (Charlie Sheen, anyone?)
Eventually I decided that to close off part of my life from discussion would defeat the entire purpose of starting this blog, and I had a realization about the "perception problem." It's not that poly people are more likely to suffer from these problems; it's that they're more likely to talk about it. It makes sense that someone who practices a lifestyle that involves frequent disclosures of feelings and activities, and frequent negotiations of relationship situations, would be more likely than average to feel okay about discussing their depression, or more likely to seek treatment for a personality disorder.
Mental illness is seriously stigmatized in...well, just about every culture. To defeat that stigma, we need to talk about it; we need to stop being ashamed of what's affecting us. Most people wouldn't think twice about going to their doctor if they had a physical illness--why should depression be any different? Similarly, to defeat the stigma surrounding polyamory, we need to talk about it. In both cases, I'm not talking about shouting from the treetops--I'm talking about treating it as any other aspect of your life. "That woman with my husband yesterday? Oh, that was just his girlfriend."
There are already several wonderful places around the internet for polyamory information and activism (such as Xeromag, Polyamory in the Media, or The Polyamorous Misanthrope), and I don't really want to go down that road. But I feel like what our community (inasmuch as it can be called that) lacks is people who are "incidentally polyamorous." The pro athlete who happens to be dating several people, or the mommy-blogger who happens to live with the other two members of her triad (actually, there are a couple of "poly mom" blogs, but on the ones I've seen, "poly" is the main focus, not "mom"). There are a few people who are openly poly without being activists (The Ferrett springs to mind), but I suspect most of us are in the closet.
As an ambassador, I'll admit I'm not an ideal choice. I'm not trying to set myself up as a shining example of "poly done right," but it is a part of my life, and I feel it's important to talk about it as it comes up.