Polyamorous People #2: “Once You Start Questioning Gender, Other Things Fall Down Like a House of Cards”

A transgender New Yorker on life in an all-queer, all-poly Brooklyn group house, and on the alarm spreading through their community as Trump takes over.

Polyamorous People #2: “Once You Start Questioning Gender, Other Things Fall Down Like a House of Cards”

Each month,  Narratively’s People of Interest” series offers an up-close look at one New York community or subculture. Poly CocktailsPOLYAMOROUS-People-Icon-Black is celebrating its tenth anniversary this Valentine’s Day. The monthly New York event is a hub for people who are polyamorous, meaning they have multiple romantic partners with the consent of all parties. Narratively’s Daniel Krieger headed to the rooftop lounge at The Delancey on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to hear some of their stories. Each Wednesday this month, we will share one in Polyamorous  People.

Who: Andy Izenson; 28; Lawyer; ProspecLefferts Gardens, Brooklyn

I was accidentally in a triad in college with these two women. The three of us were really close. We slowly realized, “Wait, these times that the three of us are going to the movies together and holding hands all in a row, or that two of us are showing up with flowers to the third’s dance performances…these are dates! This is a relationship!” We had a lovely time trying to figure out what it could look like to have a relationship that wasn’t dependent on one person being everything for you. We thought we were being very innovative and clever in the way that college kids always think they totally reinvent wheels. We didn’t know it was already a thing.

When I moved to the city I discovered the poly community and found all of this support. That was about seven years ago. I only know like one trans person in New York who’s monogamous. Once you start questioning gender, sometimes a lot of other things fall down like a house of cards. If I’ve been told my entire life that I have to be a girl, and if that’s not true, then what are the other things I’ve been told I have to be that might also be fake or not applicable?

Andy Izenson in front of the DeLancey bar

I date the occasional cisgender person, but I’m mostly T for T (trans for trans). I have a partner I live with, my statistically significant other, but I don’t use hierarchical understandings of relationships. We live together in a collective house in Brooklyn that’s all queer, all trans, all polyamorous, all very political. I also have a partner who lives in Boston, and another who lives in New Hampshire who I get to see about once a month. I’m just googly-eyed over them right now. I also have a few sweethearts or “comets” in D.C. who I get to see a couple of times a year. “Comet” is a term I heard recently for the type of partner who you collide with occasionally when they come through your orbit in this little burst of brightness that’s brief and beautiful, like a comet.

Most of the people that I’m in a relationship with are alarmed and destabilized by the current political climate. There’s a level of fear and danger that didn’t previously feel real in the way it does now. I think about my sweethearts who are geographically distant from me, and I worry about them a lot, like my sweetheart who lives in New Hampshire, who is a visibly gender nonconforming brown person. The amount of time that I can go between receiving texts from them before my brain starts to go – ‘this is it, this is the time that something bad has happened to them’ – has diminished to like ten minutes.

We’re holding onto the idea of a future where we can all be together and we can all be safe. We have this idea we’ve been talking about – we call it “next year in the forest.” We imagine a time we can all homestead, and have a place with solar panels and a wood stove and dogs and none of us have to worry that the others aren’t going to come home at night.

* * *

Come back to Narratively next week for more Polyamorous People.