Welcome to a new series I’m calling Good & Plenty Role Models! In this series I will be highlighting other fat, non-monogamous people who are finding the best ways to navigate their lives in their big bodies and with their big hearts.
Meet Myles. He’s a therapist, graduate student, and gay trans man in his late 20s living in Long Beach, CA with his tortie cat and thriving indoor garden.
How long have you been fat (or fat positive)? How did you come to fat positivity/liberation/etc.?
I didn’t grow up fat. I’ve struggled with anorexia for about 15 years and was severely underweight for a good chunk of my adolescence. Eventually, the long-term anorexia contributed to me becoming fat in adulthood. I was in my early 20s when I started experiencing sizeism, identifying as fat, and coming to fat positive community. I think Tumblr was my first introduction to fat positivity and it was really mind-blowing for me as someone who had grown up in Southern California where the culture is all about beauty, being thin, and being “healthy”. I was lucky being in the Bay Area at the time that I was able to find a lot of fat positive community events that really cemented that positive experience for me.
What’s your flavor of non-monogamy? How long have you been practicing it?
I guess the most accurate term for me is “solo polyamorous” and/or “relationship anarchist”. I’m most happy being the “side boyfriend” to a man who has a primary live-in boyfriend or husband. I date a handful of men at the same time and devote as much time to them as I do to any other relationship in my life including friends, family, work, school, etc. I’ve practiced different forms of non-monogamy throughout my life, but this particular version has been my norm for about 4 years now. The boyfriend I’m closest with I’ve been seeing for about two and half years now.
Does your fatness inform or impact your experience of non-monogamy? If so, how?
Fatness has actually been a really positive part of my experience of non-monogamy in the last few years. At first, being fat and being trans felt like this extra cross to bear (no pun intended) in the gay dating world. Almost like I had two marks against me before I even started talking to someone. So I would let men treat me poorly because I thought the pool of gay men who would be interested in me was small. Working from that place of scarcity just led me to make really unsafe decisions.
But then I got introduced to the bear community and everything changed. A date took me to my first naked bear pool party. I was terrified because I had always thought of the bear community as this very macho muscle-focused space, so the idea of walking into a space like that being fat and naked and trans was…. a lot. But no one batted an eyelash. There were men with dicks the same size as mine and breasts larger than mine had ever been. And pretty much everyone was fat. So I felt like I had found a gay space where being myself was not just tolerated, but was desirable. And non-monogamy is a cultural norm in the bear circles I run in, so it’s made it really easy to find non-monogamous lovers who appreciate but don’t fetishize my fatness.
What other aspects of your identity play a part in your experience of non-monogamy? How so?
Being disabled plays a big part in my choosing non-monogamy to be honest. Certain aspects of living with a partner or being each other’s primary daily support are difficult for me because of mental illness and chronic pain. I prefer being able to give and receive support from a bigger network of friends and lovers, while also having the privacy and independence to use my alone time as needed to recover and recharge. I also think that white privilege and desirability politics, as well as “passing privilege” regarding gender, impact my ability to date in the bear world.
What do you like about non-monogamy? What parts are hard for you?
I like not feeling so enmeshed in the lives of my lovers. It lets me give them more freedom to be who they are and make their own decisions and mistakes without feeling like any of those things are inherently tied to my future with them. I also experience compersion really intensely, that vicarious joy of seeing a lover enjoy themselves whether that’s with me or with a friend or with another partner. I also feel like dating is this experience where we all grow as people and learn in that intimate environment. I’m always growing and changing as a result of those relationships, and so are the men I date, and we get to bring the richness of that experience back to our relationship in a way that deepens it.
What are some myths about fatness, non-monogamy, or both that you’d like to debunk?
Sometimes when I tell straight people or skinny people that I have multiple partners they give me this look that implies their shock that I could get more than one partner. Because in their world, someone who looks like me is undesirable. So I guess I’d just like to debunk that idea that fat people don’t have rich, beautiful, complex love lives that include our fat bodies as a site of joy and pleasure and not as an impediment to love or connection.
Do you have any advice for folks who are new to non-monogamy?
Oh so much haha! I mean I think more than anything, trust that you have value and deserve respect and don’t waste your time with anyone who isn’t worth your time. If jealousy comes up for you, try to investigate it and see what unmet need might be lurking underneath. Be honest about your feelings. Listen to your lovers’ feelings, but don’t think you always have to fix things or change things to accommodate those feelings. Sometimes the most important thing is just listening to each other and feeling heard. Allow yourself to have privacy and keep boundaries between relationships, but if you find yourself sneaking around at any point or hiding things, check in with yourself. Try to figure out what you’re so scared of and who you might be hurting.
Who are your fat positive role models? Your non-monogamy role models?
I tend to have role models from my own community more so than celebrities. I have tons of fat positive friends who’s tenacity and resilience and beauty inspires me every day. I don’t honestly have any role models for my kind of non-monogamy though. Not that I can think of.