Well, that didn’t take long, did it? A gay writer named Nico Lang takes to
HuffPo The Daily Beast to urge married gay couples to come out with the fact that they are not monogamous. Excerpts:
Over the past decade and a half, studies from San Francisco State University and Alliant International University have found that around half of gay relationships are open. This rate is considerably higher than for heterosexual and lesbian couples, but it’s difficult to say by how much exactly, due to the widespread lack of substantive research on the subject. (After all, SFSU’s Gay Couples Study was back in 2010.)
Conservative estimates suggest that less than 1 percent of all married couples are in an open relationship, but other approximations are much higher. Back in 1983, the authors of American Couples, Phillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, found that around 15 percent of committed partners—whether homo or heterosexual—had agreements that allowed for some degree of flexibility.
Writer and sex columnist Dan Savage famously described these arrangements as “monogamish”—“mostly monogamous, not swingers, not actively looking.” And even more couples are in them than you think. I’d say that the Alliant and SFU figures are a tad low, at least for gays. I can’t speak for lesbian couples, but few queer men I know—including myself—are in relationships that are exclusively, 100-percent monogamous. Some couples occasionally invite a third into the bedroom for a night of play, while others independently arrange their own casual hookups. Some men might even have long-term partners outside their primary relationship.
In a 2013 column for Slate, Hanna Rosin called non-monogamy the gay community’s “dirty little secret,” citing a study from the ’80s, which showed that up to 82 percent of gay couples had sex with other people. That number sounds about right to me, but here’s the thing: It’s not dirty and it’s hardly a secret, at least if you know where to look.
Monogamish couples are a constant presence on apps like Grindr and Scruff, which allow gay men to connect with other men to chat or hook up. Users commonly describe themselves as “dating,” “in an open relationship,” “partnered,” or “married,” while others set up an account with their partner if they’re looking to play together.
I spoke to one couple that hasn’t let marriage get in the way of their Scruff account. Eric, 34, and Martin, 33, walked down the aisle last October after dating for five years. Like many gay couples, they were initially monogamous, although with “infrequent and informal” exceptions. “Think post-bar bathhouse outings,” Eric explained. But after creating a profile together on Scruff a few years ago, the couple agreed on a set of boundaries. “We only sleep with people together, we have to both communicate with the person to some extent before we meet up, and the guy has to very clearly be attracted to both of us,” Eric said.
Like nearly everyone I spoke to, the pair had few gay friends that were in monogamous relationships, and Martin believes it’s because there are fewer rules and expectations around gay relationships. “I think we don’t have heteronormative templates that we have to subscribe to,” Martin said. “There’s just not that same kind of pressure to be monogamous when you’re gay.”
Lang concludes his column by saying that for so long, gay men have felt burdened by having to hide the fact that they are not monogamous and do not intend to be, for fear that the truth would give opponents of gay marriage a reason to deny gays marriage rights. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, gays ought to be up front about how they are revolutionizing our culture’s understanding of marriage.
There’s nothing we can do about this now, but hey, a lot of us trads told you so. And the Law of Merited Impossibility is as valid as it ever was.