Guest Post by Sacred Ed
Around age five, I knew when I saw myself in the mirror it didn’t match what I saw on TV. People with white skin made the decisions, announced the news, led the adventures, and ran the world. People like me were barely seen and heard except for some recurring roles on TV shows or the occasional mention that this person was the “first” of our kind to be heading an important seat.
My mom made sure I got a good education because having a strong education background could make my life “easier”. I excelled in reading and other subjects. I tried sports, but the idea of playing in sports didn’t work.
My time in the military exposed me to the world and allowed me to parlay my abilities to show that I can navigate through any social circles. However, no matter the places I went to or the people I met; no matter my background or how I spoke; no matter my education or how well I could integrate between both the Black and Caucasian worlds I could never fully be included into their world. The systemic racism built into every part of our social construct would be a stumbling block for full integration and acceptance.
When I came into the Ethical Non-Monogamy world I hoped this could be a place for me to fit in without much effort. That wasn’t the case in this community either. Many times I find myself–like many people of color— as a person (or people) on the outside looking in. But the woman who was with me is White, Irtish/Scottish, and knew the scene better than I did. Without her, I think I’d be on a different path in the scene.
I could rail away about club owners or organizers not doing enough to integrate more and creating an equal space so no one was left out. Nor do I blame those who painstakingly tried to create conferences for ENM communities could flourish. I do believe there are people who try their best to include people of color in the mix. My thought is really listening and having an honest discussion on how the chasm can be filled between Whites, Blacks, and all other minority groups.
In light of the recent shootings and deaths of Black people around the country in the past few decades that include the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, the non-monogamous community must not just change but have some deep discussions about where we go from here. I think if we want the type of community Ethical Non-Monogamous people strive to have–one where everyone is equal, integrated, and striving for diverse relationships–it will happen when we start to discuss the issues facing us as a nation. It will also mean the White community must really listen to Black/Brown people about their experience in such settings.
Growing up in Northeast Ohio as a Black African-American we were never taught in school or home about the idea of having more than one person to love. Nor did we ever get lessons about enjoying having multiple partners in various scenarios or even find joy in our sexuality. No, my sexuality summed up by my mother’s stern warning to me at the time to not “make any grand-babies right now because I’m too old for that shit”. I was also the product of both the Catholic and Protestant churches where sex equated to purity and the right of passage once one is married. Sex outside of marriage–be it before or during– had no place in the world they wanted me to live in. The problem was I LOVE SEX and all the trappings with it!
I would learn later in life about these things in a classroom from a trained human sexuality teacher that all the guilt and hang-ups I had with my faith walk were wrong and that sex is pleasurable and can be enjoyed regardless of where I was in life.
I needed to hear that from someone outside of the realm I lived in. Sadly, the marriage I had before was over and in hindsight was okay. If we both got a more informed background on practices like Swinging, Polyamory, or Open Relationships the marriage could at least have a chance to survive.
The crux of it all regarding sexuality and my race is how at the time the amount of good information was available to my community. We fended for ourselves trying to figure out what is out there in the world and what is acceptable by our peers. I didn’t know any Black men or women who took the time to read up and find out about such things to get proper information.
I identify as a swinger in an Interracial Relationship. With our first circle of friends we met in the club I was the only Black person in the group. They were great people and we were fortunate to pair up with them. However, they don’t realize some of the things they would say (“you are the whitest Black person I know”) really hurt me. Just because I carried myself well and have an interest beyond the Black world doesn’t mean I’m trying to be White, nor does it mean that White people are the only ones who have a command of the English language. What many don’t realize is we do this to blend into, to try and defuse any tension among my White friends and show my desire to be included in the world. Even at my best I still find myself on the outside looking in.
I was always curious about swinging and open relationships. But because of the heavy influence of the church in our community or just any sexual relationship other than monogamous relationship pursuing such activities would be seen as trying to be “white”. When I came to such settings in Swing clubs and House parties I found other people of color were finding this stuff out too. Unless a black person or couple found themselves in a good group many found themselves on the outside looking in.
The other thing which was/is hurtful and makes Black men invisible is the whole “Mandigo”, “BBC–Big Black Cock” troupe where every Black male is expected to have the mythical Unicorn horn length cock stealing white women from their white men.
Some may enjoy this fetish, but a lot of us want to be seen based on our personality, our desires, and who we are as people— not as a fetish.
And being a Woman of Color is also troubling as well. From what I observe, the frustration Black and Brown women in the lifestyle face range from being invisible to being treated by White men as a “trophy” instead of a person. Only they can tell their story more adequately, but I stand in solidarity that their desire for relationships would be treated not as “exotic” but natural.
Our current circle of swinger friends have enough people of color (and middle age persons and couples) where it is comfortable and a safe place for everyone to strive to connect on all levels. It really helps to feel like you’re not the only one in the group and you are included in the fun.
If you could see the group room sometimes where we “play” together it is a beautiful mesh of Black and White bodies enjoying one another. What is even better is we truly care about one another and want the best for each other–both in and out of the setting.
What do we do now that the world realizes what the Black community said about abuse, murder, and systematic racism is true? How do the Ethical Non-Monogamy communities as a whole do to create a better relationship with Black/Brown patrons of the lifestyle?
I hope Polyamory communities and sites will take up the challenge and delve into the hard work ahead. I hope Swingers groups will not avoid talking about it, but create such a safe space for couples and single people to share and talk about the issues which affect both worlds. I hope in time the communities will strive to pull together and be under one tent together growing the community as a whole and not be separate. This can only happen when both groups strive to meet together in the middle instead of just one group doing all the heavy lifting.
This will require bloggers, podcast hosts, group leaders, and even finding the right party to facilitate a moment to lay down the rules. And it may be even important for each of us to place in our profiles just how important it is to make sure that first #BlackLivesMatter and secondly make safe spaces to talk about such issues in relation to Ethical Non-Monogamy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that White America and the World are finally wanting to join us in the streets to protest and talk with us about how we enter under the sheets together in the bedroom. I think it is a talk we needed a long time ago, to be honest. However, I make no illusions that by the time I/we hang up our time in the Lifestyle or in the end of my life the World will look a lot better and a lot more connected together regardless of race. I do hope things will be better, people are treated with respect, and how and who we chose to pair up with we pair knowing where we came from and where we are going together.
For more from Sacred Ed, please check out the following articles on medium:
“Love With No Expectations” by Sacred Ed
“I’m not ashamed… about sexuality!” by Sacred Ed