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This thought provoking article was published on Life on the Swing Set, a website for sexually open minded people. After you've read the article, check out the site.  There's lots more interesting information on the site for lifestylers, swingers and others who follow an alternative path.

What is to come of the “Lifestyle?” Whether you define the Lifestyle as polyamory, swinging, BDSM or any variation thereof, where do you see the future? These questions came after reading an interesting article,  “Out of the Mainstream” by Larry Gross. Within he talks about gay and lesbians portrayal in the media and “the common fate of relative invisibility and demeaning stereotypes.”

While reading I kept thinking about the relationship between myself and the facts of me being bisexual and in the Lifestyle. Neither of these paths are the “normal” way of life and hence why I use sites like Lifestyle Lounge and Kasidie to find like minded people.  I wouldn’t dare go to a regular bar down the street and try to find couples. It is almost a hazard to go outside of “safe zones” whether they be websites or special clubs. While there are success stories of meet ups at random local bars, for the most part it isn’t done that way.

The hazard of being in the “Lifestyle” is the negative consequences and portrayal of us in the world. This community thrives on collective secrecy. We all know the basic rule of what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. Meaning that names are kept only in the community and for the most part “vanilla friends” are kept separate from our Lifestyle friends.

What are the consequences of this collective secrecy within the Lifestyle? For the most part “we” do not want our families to know, our bosses to know or neighbors to know what and who we do. If we come out of the “closet” we are judged negatively and harshly.  We are considered dirty, no morals and unfit parents by the community. While we all want to say “who cares what people think,” but the reality is that it matters.

On Halloween your house is flagged as dangerous because you swing. You become the focus of gossip at work because you are into BDSM and lose your respect. In an ideal world we shouldn’t wouldn’t care about what people think about us. In this world however it is part of who and what we are. It affects the relationships we make and keep. Legally you cannot get fired because of this. It does not mean that you won’t be and then told it is because of something else.

This persecution is at a level where we are disrespected, harassed, and denied rights, just like the homosexual community. Homosexuals stayed in the “closet” to protect their jobs. If they were homosexual they were and still are treated as a second class citizens. Why? Gross said it best “those who are at the bottom of the various hierarchies will be kept in their placed in part through their relative invisibility.” The outcome of this is invisibility is “symbolic annihilation.”

“We” in the Lifestyle are not mainstream culture’s idea of “normal.“ It is because of this we are considered a threat. The Lifestyle is against or is different from them so it, and we, must all be bad, evil and ignored or abolished. The best example of abolished is the church down in Texas that is not only protesting outside of swinger clubs, but is also harassing couples. The harassment has gone to the point that people have lost their jobs and lives have been ruined. With this type of harassment couples avoid clubs because of fear. While this open harassment is frowned on the thoughts behind it are supported. By accepting and allowing this invisibility we are accepting our eventual annihilation.

How do we overcome this annihilation for our future? We have to bring the Lifestyle to forefront of the world. Show them that we are doctors, lawyers and teachers. Many within the community have children and are the best parents in the world. Many of us attend church, are on the PTA, pay taxes and do everything else ideal that society likes. The only difference is that they enjoy the Lifestyle.

It is difficult though for us to bring the Lifestyle front and center because of the dangers involved by being open. Once again one must consider family and work. How do we cope and deal with such negative stereotypes? Will Child Services remove children? How do we deal with family reactions? Ideally, what and who we do should only concern those participating. The problem is that because of this privacy lies are spread the Lifestyle develops extremely negative stereotypes.

As a sexually open and expressive community, we are all at edge of a battle field. The fight before us is our stereotypes and the unfair, negative consequences for us being in the Lifestyle.

A line is not being drawn in the sand. It is not a you are either with us or against us. This is a battle of choices with multiple paths. Every time someone asks you about the Lifestyle or about your involvement, your answer is your movement on the battlefield. Sometimes you block, other times you dodge and at times you attack.
As more people join the Lifestyle, no matter the type, I am hoping for us to unite. These stereotypes about sexually open community affects all of us and for us to stand against them we must stand together. There is no need for us to be against each other though our choices may be different. We all have one thing in common, we are all in a sexually open community. Let’s be the best community by not throwing stones and accepting all our lifestyles.


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