chapter  16
7 Pages

Disability And Polyamory: Exploring the Edges of Inter- Dependence, Gender and Queer Issues in Non-Monogamous Relationships


Every time I have approached this chapter I have found myself surrounded by silence and an inability to fi nd the ‘right’ words. The process has been akin to stumbling in the dark and, and in this darkness, I realized that my experience had roots in the constructions of all the topics I wanted to touch upon: gender, disability, queerness and non-monogamy. In the context of relationships, all those topics can be to some degree taboos and, as such, shrouded in silence and secrecy. They are not touched by the ease of everyday language in our overculture. This is exemplifi ed by the polyamorous community’s attempts to create their own terminology, such as ‘metamour’ as well as the word ‘polyamory’ itself (Ritchie and Barker, 2006). Although gender may seem to have a more mundane language framework, when looking more closely it is clear to see that the picture has more texture. As someone who was born female bodied and now identifi es as genderqueer and more masculine, I am aware of how constructions of gender and sexuality are deeply embedded in our historical and geographical contexts and of the role that language plays in those constructions (Brickell, 2006). Particular constructs of gender and sexuality have underpinned the organization of societal structures in this specifi c overculture in which I am located: the Anglo-American world in the 21st Century (Young and Nathanson, 2007). As an academic, who is familiar with the literature on gender and sexuality issues, the wall of silence I encountered within and around myself should not have been much of a surprise. As a genderqueer, polyamorous person living with a chronic illness (fi bromyalgia syndrome), I nevertheless had a desire to voice my experiences and to seek the experiences of others similar to me. Even though the desire spurred me on, I found myself unable to fi nd the ‘right’ research questions to ask, the appropriate methodology. Once my inability met time constraints I decided to turn to myself and to literature in order to carry out a scouting expedition in this wilderness that appeared to have no immediate language. This chapter is both the outcome and a part

of such expedition, which I offer to the readers as a temporary fl ashlight to orient themselves in this under-explored intersection. From an epistemological point of view, this piece is informed by narrative approaches to research, as well as autoethnographic methods (see Etherington, 2004; Carolyn & Bochner, 2000), which I will not discuss here in order to focus the remainder of my allotted space in this book on the main topic.