My Best friend, Andrea, is a successful journalist. She writes for places like the New York Times and Huff Post and other big name venues. She gave me one piece of advice when I told her about my Vice article, “Don’t respond to the trolls who are going to attack you in the comments section. Read it if you want. Read all of it if you want. But don’t respond.” She told me to stay out of the conversations that were going to arise. On Facebook and elsewhere. If someone wrote me personally, or on Twitter, and they were being nice, or at least trying to be nice, respond. “But ignore the assholes. They aren’t talking to you anyway.” Andrea has a lot of experience in this. She’s waded into some pretty controversial territory. I trusted her.
And she was right. There have been some assholes. People who want to tell me why my relationship with Alex and Jon can’t work. Why it is wrong. Some talk about Christianity, some talk about exploiting gay marriage. Everyone has an opinion and they feel those opinions intensely.
When I wrote the piece for Vice my goal was not controversy. I was naïve. It didn’t even really occur to me that this piece, about love and friendship: about learning to be happy could possibly be controversial to anyone. I mean fine, besides the gay aspect, which is always controversial to someone, I just didn’t think most people would care.
I was wrong.
There was one scathing comment from a gay guy who lives in LA, someone I kind of know indirectly, who told me I was being selfish. That it was hard enough for him to find one decent gay guy in LA to date (he’s single) and that here I was taking two, and in the process ruining my marriage because there was no way this could work, as well as ruining his chances at finding true love. He told me my whole article was just selfish justification. Another woman said that no one will take gays seriously now. I was proving everyone right: that we were over sexualised, promiscuous, etc. Some people wrote, Ewww, or just Gross.
I was surprised at how mostly these people didn’t bother me. I felt sorry for the gay guy. He seemed really sad. I thought it was strange that he made my being happy about his being sad. But I could almost understand what he was saying. He was lonely. And the woman: well, I don’t really know what to say to her. Yes, I have fucked a lot of guys. Yes, the three of us have fucked A LOT of guys and honestly, I hope we fuck a hell of a lot more guys. Fucking is fun. I don’t know why anyone should feel ashamed of enjoying sex. It’s one of those rare win-win situations as far as I can tell. I’m also not a fan of slut shaming. If you want to be a slut, go be the best fucking slut in the whole world. I am incredibly grateful to some of the sluts I’ve met. I’ve really enjoyed them.
Monogamy is not bad. Trying to build that kind of deep, intimate, relationship is amazing. And I support that. I’m just not sure it’s right for me. I have been in enough relationships where I failed at it, or the guy I was with failed at it, and we all felt betrayed and sad and it hurt. We lied to each other. I became someone I didn’t want to be.
I’ve decided I’m no longer willing to be that person. I know who I am and I can accept that and be happy with it.
When Alex and I first started talking about all this stuff, he said to me, “I really want to honor your sexuality. I don’t want to make you be something you aren’t. I want to share in it.” And that is what we did. We aren’t open. Necessarily. Our goal is a version of monogamy. We fuck other guys together. We have fun. We share our sexuality, the three of us now, together. We explore together. Sometimes, based on circumstances, the rules are looser and sometimes they are tighter. We are fluid. We try to take everyone’s needs into consideration.
Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes it is fraught with peril. But mostly we have found it works, for us.
What amazed me about the negative comments wasn’t that they disagreed with me, or that they were uncomfortable with my choices, but that they were so sure I was wrong. They wanted to hurt me. Tell me we would fail. That I was gross. That my choices, Jon’s and Alex’s choices, weren’t acceptable.
Instead they could have just been happy because we were happy. They could have just believed what they believed but hoped for a better outcome.
But we are all fragile and hurt. We are all scared. Life has a way of breaking us down.
At first I was mad at the comments. Hurt. I thought, shit, if this upsets them wait till I write about being HIV positive, I’m going to prove them all right: Slut gets AIDS. Than I thought, this isn’t about me. What they are saying isn’t about me. I’m happy. This is my life. And look at how amazing it’s turned out. I got to marry the man of my dreams. I got to date this awesome fucking brilliant guy. The three of us get to live together in this amazing home in this amazing city and we get to share each other’s lives and be best friends and lovers and to explore the world and to grow together, not to cage each other, but to really support each other.
I suddenly realized: I am the luckiest fucking guy in the world.
And I got to do what I love best: I got to write and get paid for it and thousands of people read it. And the most amazing thing, besides the few negative comments, was the outpouring of love and acceptance and wonder. I woke up this morning to 57 emails thanking me and congratulating Alex and Jon and I. Asking me questions. Telling me their stories. Yesterday was 196! On twitter my account has 234 notifications at this moment. These are all wonderful, amazing stories, people saying the most incredible things.
A whole world of other happy people!
I am completely blown away. Straight people, gay people, young , old, people from all over the world. I met a triad who’s been together 11 years. Another who met in high school, all three of them, and they are still together 8 years later. They’ve shared their stories with me, their experiences and their truth: that this does work. That love does actually win if you want it to.
There is so much to hate in the world. And there is a lot of fucking pain and misery. It’s amazing to read these emails and think, Look, these people have found happiness, they found joy, they found a way to carve out a life of their own. Because this is our life. This is fucking it. And man, terrible things will happen. I talk to my mother, who has stage IV Cancer every day, and every day I get off the phone I sob. I literally sit there and cry almost hysterically. It isn’t fair, I think. That this amazing woman, this beautiful person, should suffer.
And then I think about all the amazing friends she has. About her partner, and all the people who come together and visit her and take her to lunch. All the love she has in her life. My mother would never say that it wasn’t fair. She says she’s lucky. That her life has been filled with love and friends and happiness.
She loves to ask me questions about Jon and Alex. My mother has no problem asking me intensely personal questions about our sex lives. She likes to hear me tell stories.
When I found out I was HIV Positive my friend Kevin drove me straight to Alex. I walked into the house and before I could even speak I was sobbing. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. To him. To us. To the world. And he held me. He wrapped me in those big arms of his and just held on, keeping me safe. And he cried with me. And he told me, over and over, “This is okay. We will be okay. We can do this. Together.” And he was right. We did. He went with me to my doctors appointments. He reminds me to take my meds. And he still loves me. I was safe. Even in all that fear about what was going to happen now: I was safe and he was with me, and together we were going to be fine.
There are no guarantees in this life. Life is exactly what it is. Maybe I just got a bigger, sweeter piece of the pie. Maybe Alex is right and I am eternally optimistic.
But one thing I do know, it’s something my mother once said, “You can’t control the shit storm that life is, so you might as well have as much fun as possible while dancing in the middle of it.”
I am definitely having fun. I got the biggest, sweetest piece of pie ever. And I have two fucking incredible men to share it with. And this whole thing, all of you out there, have just reaffirmed that for me.
Thank you for all the amazing emails and letters and comments. You have made my life just that much better. We are all fucking awesome.