Most poly people, it seems, are mostly hiding in the poly closet. I went to one poly meetup, and almost everyone said they were almost completely closeted. I try to be out whenever possible. I don’t necessarily give all the details, but I’ve told my parents, my old boss, and one of my coworkers at my last job.
I appreciated this quote on SoloPoly:
Usually this in couched in positive-sounding terms of not wanting to make others uncomfortable, not wanting to attract unwelcome prurient attention, not wanting to seem like your’re “advertising” sexual availability, or not wanting to sound like a strident, pushy activist. Which can be true. But regardless of the motivation, the end result is that by continuing to “pass” as mainstream, closeted people get to retain social status — or at least avoid scrutiny. Thus, like it or not, they end up reinforcing the very social norms they resent.
…Out people are the long-term insurance policy for any marginalized community.
I also liked this quote from the same post:
Part of what I expect in terms of outness is basic respect. I expect my lovers will not suddenly demote me, through words or actions, to “just a friend” if we’re out somewhere on a date and happen to encounter someone they know from another context. Personally, I find such behavior deeply disrespectful, and certainly not at all friendly. I’m not ashamed of myself or my lovers — and anyone who wants to share friendship, affection, intimacy, and sex with me had better not act ashamed of me either.
This post is also a very good take on being out as poly. While I try to be out as poly, it just hasn’t yet proven reasonable to come out to my extended family, or random acquaintances/coworkers who I know are conservative. Try as I might to make my social circles full of open-minded people, there are always places where you will have secrets. Since I do not have multiple “serious” partners, there is no reason to flaunt to my extended family that I sleep around a lot.
At my cousin’s wedding, the pressure shifted to me to get married next. All of the cousins on that side of the family are married (or separated/divorced, as the case may be). I don’t know if I want to get married. I do know that I want to continue at least some form of polyamory for the rest of my life. This may or may not ever come out to my extended family. I doubt they’d have MAJOR problems with it…but they would think it is weird, for sure. So for now, I’m keeping it to my parents, and the majority of my friends/liberal acquaintances.
However, the chances that any partner of mine will meet my aunt and uncle across the country are pretty slim. Heck, the chances they’ll meet the more local relatives is pretty slim too. When I do eventually find relationships that are lasting, where they do meet more than just my parents, I won’t toss them to the side. I also am as much of a poly activist as I can possibly be without absolutely breaking the limits of appropriateness.