Why Flags Matter (and Why Polyamory Needs a New One)
We at PolyamProud have the goal of establishing a definitive polyamorous pride flag, with the aim of advancing the rights of our global and diverse community. With the vote in November, the winning flag will be one that we choose together as a community, that we feel proud to claim, and that better represents all of us.
But why have a flag at all? And why just one? (Polyamorists and consensual non-monogamists being somewhat known for wanting to have, well, ‘more than one’.)
As we wrote in Why Do We Want to Create a New Flag?: “A flag is a symbol - and much like other symbols, not everyone is going to strongly resonate with or feel the need for one. But it marks out a group of people: sometimes a country, and sometimes a movement (whether formally or informally). That symbol not only gives the people who are a part of that population something to connect them (think of international travellers with little flag patches on their backpacks - kiwis often identify other travelling kiwis this way), but also gives those who are not part of that group an identifier. Not everyone is part of the rainbow community, but everyone recognises the pride flag.”
Before we get into the specifics on why we feel polyamorous and consensually non-monogamous individuals, relationships and communities around the world would benefit from a (new) flag, it’s important that we acknowledge that, on the whole, polyamorists are a privileged group. Those who identify as polyam/CNM - particularly those who are white, cisgender, straight, and male - are fortunate, and generally don’t face the same level of discrimination and violence perpetrated against BIPOC and the queer, trans, and broader LGBTQIA+ communities.
That said, many polyamorists around the world do face stigma and discrimination, in a whole variety of areas. Just some of them include:
Adoption - being prevented from adopting when one’s relationship/s looks different than the monohetero norm; or prevented from adopting a child that, as a committed partner, one is helping to raise
Marriage - being unable to legally marry more than one partner at a time, or have more than one relationship legally recognised as being as valid as another
Child custody - potentially losing access or custody to one’s child, if one’s non-monogamous relationships are used as an argument for being unfit
Access to insurance - not being included on a partner’s insurance, if how partnership is defined by the insurance company excludes them
Access to family and bereavement leave - again, if being a partner is not recognised, or losing a partner or metamour is not recognised as being a loss
Difficulty obtaining professional, or social, support - whether due to stigma, feeling unsafe to disclose, or other reasons
Difficulty having relationships recognised for visa and immigration purposes (full disclosure - I am quoted in this article in my professional capacity)
Housing and workplace discrimination - being refused for loans if a relationship isn’t recognised; refused the opportunity to rent; losing money sunk into property if the ended relationship isn’t legally recognised as valid
Minority stress and negative internalisations of self - micro and macroaggressions can impact how one perceives themself, particularly when living in a mononormative society
STI stigma and slut shaming - from health professionals, or from families and friends
We have seen the ways other marginalised communities use flags as tools to unify and grow their visibility. Wendy Curry, co-creator of the bisexual pride flag, said: “We wanted to let the larger world know that we’re here, we’re proud, and we demand respect. The flag…was something we could rally behind as we demanded equality. It gave us a sense of power and strength.”
By refusing to agree on one flag, we refuse our own visibility. So, if you haven’t already, sign up to get the email when voting opens, and join us in both choosing a flag and helping to advance our rights around the world!