By Kendra Holliday | September 8, 2017
There’s a new non-monogamy book coming out October 6, and guess what? I wrote the Foreword!
It’s Called “Polyamory”: Coming Out About Your Nonmonogamous Relationships, by Tamara Pincus and Rebecca Hiles (Thorntree Press).
Below is my Foreword. You can pre-order the book now.
The year I came out was one of the most challenging in my life.
I was a divorced, white, bisexual cisgender woman who shared custody with my ex-husband. It was 2010 in St Louis, MO, the belt buckle of the bible belt. My daughter was 10. I owned my own home in a quiet suburban neighborhood. I had just gotten a new job at a non-profit organization.
I thought I had the best of both worlds – by day I was a dutiful employee with good posture, proper grammar, and dressed from head to toe in layers of conservative clothes. By night, I was a live nude sex blogger, anonymously documenting my polyamorous life, never putting my face or name to the blog that’s motto was: “Be open and honest.”
I was already out to my partners and daughter, but not to my family and the community.
Through a technology glitch that connected my identity to my blog, my employer discovered my online musings, and it inflamed them. The top blog post at the time featured a threesome story with our girlfriend.
When they fired me, it was swift and severe. I hadn’t even had a chance to take off my coat when I walked into the office before the boss summoned me, her face a mask of fury.
Alarmed, I followed her to the room, where she closed the door and turned on me, icy eyes ablaze.
April 27, 2010 was the last time I was successfully slut shamed.
“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” she hissed. “You’re acting like a 14 year old!”
I left the building, cheeks flushed, heart racing, completely stunned and cut loose. In an instant, I went from being a model employee to a monster.
Later, my employer emailed me:
“We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one’s sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private.”
For months, I searched my soul, unable to decide whether I wanted to legally change my name and get a job at Target or Starbucks, or fully own my sexuality and mission and put my name and face to my sex-positive activism.
By the fall, I had made up my mind. National Coming Out Day was Monday October 11, 2010, and I was going to come out nationally, irrevocably, with no turning back.
The month leading to my coming out was full of anxiety and planning. My teeth hurt from constantly clenching my jaws in my sleep.
I collaborated with an adult toy company I had been doing reviews for, as well as the local alternative weekly newspaper.
Amidst interviews and photoshoots, I struggled financially. I was out of work and aimless.
Before the local story came out, I went to my daughter’s school and informed them of the upcoming publicity. They assured me that they would never punish a student for a parent’s behavior.
When my story was released, the shit hit the fan.
I was on the cover of the magazine, nude and draped like Aphrodite on the half shell.
For two weeks, everyone around me freaked out.
And then, it got worse.
Parents at my daughter’s school were horrified with me, so I was kicked out of my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. One of the leaders wrote me: “I’m sure you’ll understand that in light of recent events you will not be invited to participate in Girl Scout programming, and somebody else will assume the role of Cookie Captain.”
I was not fit to be around cookies, much less children.
And then my daughter was expelled from the school. We were told it was because they didn’t have the proper resources for her.
Rumors swirled. My social media posts were reported and censored. PayPal banned me for having adult content. Detractors claimed I had sex with animals, was an attention seeking whore, and that my child was in danger.
My ex-husband was beyond furious and shamed.
He sued me for full custody.
I was broke, desperate, and now had to hire a lawyer and invest thousands of dollars to protect myself. And then I had to educate my lawyer on polamory and sex-positive culture.
On the verge of losing my daughter, my house, my reputation destroyed, I was told to move out of town – I didn’t belong here.
Running out of options, I shaved my head bald as a performance art legal defense fundraiser.
I was invited to tell my story at ideaCity, a Toronto based speaker series. My topic was motherhood and sexuality. My story tanked – there were people in the crowd of 700 who gave my talk a resounding thumbs down. Other people pitied me.
Unemployment ran out. I was going to a food bank weekly for a grocery bag of expired canned food to eat and cleaning houses and figure modeling for cash.
As the Winston Churchill quote goes, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Or, a page from Samuel Beckett, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
Life got very dark for me. I almost lost everything. But I wasn’t alone. Throughout the entire ordeal, my partner remained loving and supportive, as well as my lovers and sympathetic friends.
And then, in 2011, I found a job with a company that cared more about my work abilities than my personal life.
Soon after, my ex-husband dropped the custody case, a week before it was to go to trial.
My daughter was enrolled in a school system that did not judge her and provided the resources she needed.
I co-founded a local organization called Sex Positive St Louis with three other people.
Now, my organization has more than 3200 members.
In 2015, I was able to quit my day job and focus full-time on sex and relationship consulting.My daughter is 16 now, and identifies as panromantic asexual polyamorous. She is a peer counselor among her LGBTQ friends. We have an amazingly close relationship.
My family accepts me for who I am. They are proud of my accomplishments and attend my events.
Incredibly, my ex-husband and I are active co-parents and on good terms. We hold family meetings and attend school functions together.
I’m self-employed and able to travel and buy anything I want at the grocery store.
I’m hired to speak at local universities on non-monogamy. I’ve been featured on several sexuality podcasts. Local therapists refer their clients to me. I host spectacular play parties and educational talks. People travel from all over the country to spend time with me and enlist my services.
I am fully integrated and respected. My relationships are thriving. People admire my courage and look to me for guidance. What used to be a detraction – a polyamorous sex goddess – is now an ATTRACTION.
My award-winning, creative sexuality blog is a source of PRIDE. Now, I can TRULY be open and honest.
And now I REALLY have the best of both worlds – a rich and beautiful life, full of comfort AND exciting adventures.
When I’m out and about, people will approach me and ask, “Hey, are you the sex-positive lady?” And then they thank me for my courage.
But wow, what an uphill battle!
Back then, there was no book like this when I was in the process of coming out. I wish there had been! I took a leap against all odds – but you don’t have to.
You have this resource, this guide to coming out, on your own terms, at your own pace. No need to cut off your hair to spite your face.
Co-authors Tamara Pincus is an AASECT certified sex therapist who will show you the way and Rebecca Hiles is a Sex and Relationship Coach.
To be sure, all our actions have consequences. The reason why people hold back is because they are afraid of change. They are afraid of rejection, of punishment.
I am here to tell you that if you forge a path into the unknown, you might face adversity, but if you keep true to yourself, if you keep going, you will get past the valley of darkness and come out on top.
We all have a choice to be honest with ourselves. It takes courage.
Courage is doing the right thing, even when we’re scared.
Replace the fear with love.Read on for talking points, different perspectives, and the tools and resources you need in order to successfully come out on your own terms as polyamorous.
Let this book be your guide, your voice of reason.Your ticket to freedom.
– Kendra Holliday, Writer & Editor of The Beautiful Kind, Co-Founder of Sex Positive St. Louis, Passion Midwife, Hardworking Lady of Leisure, Lover of Many