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Ask the Queer Resource Center!

Published: November 14, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.


Dear QRC,

I’m puzzled by the name “Queer Resource Center.” Isn’t “queer” an insulting term?

Sincerely, Confused in Cable

Confused,

Great question! You’re right in that “queer” began as derogatory and homophobic. However, the term has been reclaimed, and in a liberal environment like Brandeis it is perfectly acceptable to use. Unlike commonly used terms such as “gay” and “lesbian,” “queer” is an umbrella term, encompassing any person whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression does not conform to societal norms. The term unifies all members of the LGBTQIA community, and even some heterosexuals identify as queer once their point of view broadens. Of course, it is important to use the term with the same sensitivity and discretion that you would for any other personal identity.

Dear QRC,

My partner, “Taylor,” and I have been together for 7 months, and are very committed to each other. Lately, I have been interested in opening up the relationship, but I’m too embarrassed to bring it up. I’m worried that Taylor won’t understand that I’m still in love, and I just want us to be able to explore together. The last thing that I want is to hurt Taylor. Is it okay for me to want to see other people, while still keeping this relationship?

Sincerely, Eager Explorer

Explorer,

In the queer community, this is known as Polyamory, an identity based on consensual non-monogamy. Polyamorous people believe that love can be strengthened, not weakened, by participation in multiple (carefully negotiated) emotional and/or sexual relationships. It is perfectly fine for you to want further romantic involvement with other people, because expecting to get everything you want from only one person is often unrealistic.

Yet as long as you want to stay with Taylor, open dialogue and consent is key: without honest negotiation, this is infidelity, not polyamory. Therefore, it is important to be completely honest with Taylor before further exploration.

You might start out by telling Taylor why you value this relationship. Then explain why you think that Polyamory could be a liberating endeavor for both of you. Propose the idea of remaining “primaries”: in Polyamory, these are long-term partners who remain each other’s first priorities. Taylor and you could still share a crucial bond, letting other partners take second precedent. If Taylor seems interested, then you can negotiate rules and boundaries (the specific who, what, where, when, why, and how), making sure that all encounters are safe and consensual. Part of your agreement could be to report experiences and partners to each other in order to stay honest.

No matter what, communication is crucial. Whether or not Taylor is interested in Polyamory, be sure to talk about any relationship problems that arise.

Do you have questions about gender, sexuality, diversity, or acceptance?

Would you like anonymous advice from friendly peer counselors?

Check out the Queer Resource Center, the educational branch of Triskelion, the Brandeis LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/ally) group. We provide free, confidential peer counseling to people of all identities in Shapiro Campus Center room 328, Mondays through Fridays form 1 to 5 p.m.

To have your questions answered in this column just send a question to “Ask the QRC”

at qrc@brandeis.edu and put “Hoot” in the subject line.