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Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh my! I couldn't do that!!

Every year I take a week to myself and head to a small festival. I've been a part of the festival since inception, watching it grow with new faces and ideas every year. I'm also happy watching myself grow as this group challenges me in new ways every year and I become more and more involved. Believe it or not, in real life I'm quite social but prefer to travel on the edge of circles rather than being under the spotlight in the middle.

Because I am fairly social and love the festival, I invite new friends every year. It was also a festival challenge the first year to invite a few new people every year and I've tried hard to meet that challenge. I think I've done pretty well and feel directly responsible for a few of the folks who attend.

While inviting people this year I noticed something interesting. Probably because I invited a lot more people this year than I have in the past. More than a few people have understandably had questions about the festival when invited. As I answered their questions I noticed a trend. Many of the people assumed the event was poly oriented, had a large attendance of poly people, or was sexually focused.

At first I didn't think much of the questions and just answered them as best I could. After hearing the same questions a few times though, I started to pay a bit more attention. The festival is intended for a more open minded type of participant so of course I was asking my more open minded friends. Many of whom are poly. Could that explain the trend?

The festival itself is technically pagan and there is a lot of emphasis on wine, rituals, Greek tradition, and yes some sex. But these people didn't know that before they asked, and the festival name isn't suggestive so why the specific questions?

I realized finally, after asking a few questions of my own, people were assuming that since I am poly the event must be poly oriented as well. It made me realize that a lot of folks define me by my polyamory. And if their perceptions of poly are wrong, such as thinking poly folks just sleep around casually with everyone they can, their perceptions of my life are probably wrong. Those assumptions probably explain why a few folks I invited, whom I really think would enjoy the festival, gave me a flat out "No thanks, I don't go to *those* type of things." or "Oh no, I couldn't go to THAT!" without asking me any questions about the festival at all.

Although I haven't explored this much yet I am very curious about it. I wonder if many of my non-poly friends assume that because I am poly most of my life is poly focused. If I have a BBQ on the 4th of July will they assume it to be all poly folk? If I have a dinner party will they expect it to turn into an orgy after 8pm if they have those kind of assumptions about poly? Do they think that everything in my life in which I participate and initiate is poly focused?

What about you? Have you had these type of assumptions from your non-poly friends before? What about casual acquaintances rather than familiar friends? Do you see more of an assumption about your lifestyle from them?

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