Editor's Letter #152 | by Ian Howley | @ianhowley

A couple of weeks ago I sat at my work computer and watched in real time some Twitter followers have a debate about open relationships. Their debate may or may not have arisen from seeing the FS open relationships survey that was doing the rounds online at the time. What struck me was just how heated this ‘debate’ became in a matter of minutes. The person who initiated it asked the question: “Can you love someone but fuck another guy?”

The answers that came back to him were mixed. Some straight away called gay men in open relationships greedy and selfish while others said that it’s up to people in relationships to define what their relationships are. Some stated that being open to open relationships comes with age and experience and pointed out that the guy who asked the question may not have experienced life enough to fully understand what open relationships are about.

This ‘debate’ went on for a good hour, though it didn’t take that long before it went downhill and name-calling was introduced on both sides of the argument, which eventually resulted in the end of the conversation.

I’ve been with FS for nearly six years now and in my experience there are only two subjects that get men as heated as this. One is sexual racism and the other is open relationships. Now I can understand why sexual racism gets a discussion going. The other I don’t really understand.

Why does someone else’s personal relationship get you so angry? Why does the idea of two grown men developing a relationship that suits their needs make you feel the need to tell them their relationship is not ‘a real relationship’?

Now many would argue that someone’s anger towards gay men in open relationships is probably a reflection on themselves, their insecurities, age or experience. That’s not for me to state. However I feel the time is right for us, as a community, to have an (excuse the pun) open and honest conversation about open relationships. To break down the stigma attached to them we need to explore and educate.

And why do we need to educate? We have heard from so many gay men, over and over again, that they thought they were in an monogamous relationship only to find that their partner has passed on an STI or HIV to them. Did you know that according to a study done in the United States, most gay men who become HIV-positive do so while in a relationship or from a regular sex buddy.

If we can break down the stigma and stereotyping of open relationships, then gay men who are in monogamous relationships and may be thinking about having sex with someone who is not their partner, might be more open to having an honest talk with their partner about their needs and desires. If you are so anti-open relationships but your partner is not feeling the same way, do you think he’s going to discuss something like this with you? Think about it.

So that leads me to this issue. We surveyed over 1,000 gay men about their opinions on open relationships and broke down the results. The outcome is a fascinating snapshot of just what gay men in 2016 think about open relationships. Please have a read, think about it and if you are one of the many ‘anti-open relationships’ guys we hope this feature gives you some insight into the real lives of gay men in open relationships. Every gay couple should be allowed to have the relationship that works for them. Judging from the outside isn’t helping.   

Until next time,

Ian Howley, Editor, FS