I spent half my recent vacation lurking by the cruise ship’s pools, bars and clubs, and swiped through dozens of potential lovers in Miami leading up to my flight home to Detroit.
I sat on the tarmac, contemplating. I texted a guy I had been seeing for some time:
We met on Tinder.
I told God when I arrived to Atlanta in August that I wasn’t exactly looking for a partner but if one fell in my lap, I wouldn’t say no. I imagined something more cinematic, meeting a fellow writer at a conference, passing the weekend in shy glances, video chatting nearly every day of the following weeks.
Instead, I had just volunteered a few hours at an LGBTQ festival across town and was looking for some fast fun before hopping home. He told me to find him at the Wal-Mart in walking distance of my place at Morehouse and his apartment around the corner. Dressed simply in sneakers, black jeans, a burgundy camouflage T-shirt and a grey snapback, he waited for me in the alcohol aisle.
Over Shock Top and Domino’s, we talked about politics, religion, cultural differences (himself an international student) and our favorite songs. The next morning grew into the afternoon before the night when he took me home.
A week later, he told me he was starting to like me and it scared the hell out of me. But in two months, I had to admit that I always found myself smiling about the boy.
The single obstacle in our relationship so far has been my polyamory. Nearly a decade older than me (my family tradition), he’s already lived his wild days. I was just getting there, now free as a bird in the gay Black capital of the USA.
Polyamory became a dirtier word as winter break progressed. He confessed to me one night that he had slept with his ex back home. I reassured him of our sexual freedom, as long as we use protection and be emotionally sensitive to one another and, most importantly, to ourselves. But when I saw my ex:
I was in a web: I could continue escapading, consider limiting my partners or feel pressured into monogamy. It became clear that I needed to take age, cultural difference and sexual politics seriously and that commitment can be a labor of love.
As a queer gender nonconforming person, I push for alternative familial/platonic/romantic/sexual practices to liberate queer folks from oppressive capitalist systems like cis-heterosexuality, monogamy and marriage. Distance, multiplicity, and pleasure can be radical. I feel can enter and exit certain spaces with confidence, I don’t feel owned and I get to share love freely.
However, we often use polyamory today as an oppressive tool to coax our partners and friends into judging themselves for their “outdated” and “conservative” views and inability to “free themselves” of white supremacist sexual politics. We think in the binaries that we hate so much. And in reality, my body deserves greater quality than quantity.
I miss having a second home, waking up in a peaceful embrace and running late to class in bliss. I also like seeing beauty and uniqueness in others. And I promised my late dad that I would feel every emotion that arises inside me and not run away from myself as he did.
The boy makes me feel a type of way I haven’t in two years. Black Queer Mother God says when a bird finds a bee, they find a good thing. And mama likes a good challenge.