Long-Winded Profile

Extremely easy going, I don’t keep grudges because life is too short, and also because I literally can’t remember what the grudge was about. Sometimes this annoys people because they are determined to be annoyed but I don’t get it.

That said, although I am easy-going, if you push me the cat claws will be drawn. 

I am partnered but ethically polyamourous. Strictly anti-monogamous on the principles of non-propriety and self-determination. That now forms a big part of my identity along with my secular humanism, queerness, negritude and veganism.

Looking for either:

  1. a platonic friendship
  2. a casual sexual relationship
  3. a romantic friendship
  4. a partner

I am:

  • Poly (polyamorous) and vigorously anti-monogamous by principle, if not always in practice.
  • I find that on an almost day-to-day basis I hover up and down the (admittedly wildly inaccurate) Kinsey Scale usually averaging about 4.5. Gay-bi-pan mixture.
  • Grey-cupiosexual, aromantic, pansexual, skoliosexual… kind of somewhere in between all of those definitions…
  • Green & learning. Member of the Green Party, been disappointed with Labour since 1997 and would only switch back if they get their act together. Supporter of a Progressive Alliance (led by the Greens of course)
  • Strict vegetarian and oft-lapsed vegan/”vague-an” & learning
  • Atheist / secular humanist, EX-Jehovah’s Witness (I run a support group for ex-cult members) 
  • Queer politics, trans-friendly, femme-friendly, poz-friendly, anti-stigma, non-judgemental.
  • Open to friendship or relationship with gay men.
  • I’m FTM-friendly. Attracted to men, whether you’re cis or trans doesn’t bother me at all (not a chaser, I just feel it’s important to show openness and solidarity)
  • Self confessed language geek, linguist, teacher, translator/interpreter

(if you don’t know what any of those involve, or actually, even if you THINK you know what these involve, please ask me, we may learn from each other.

The following sections include more detailed explanations of what makes me tick. Extra Brownie points if you read on.

My name

My name is Ste pronounced /sti:/. Its not my full birth-name, but only my closest friends know that. In Jamaican folklore (also called Obeah, a sister religion of Vodun or Voodoo), giving someone ones full “passport” name gives them power over you. Of course I don’t believe that it literally the case, but I love to use it as an excuse not to tell people my name.

My username “ownlifeful” is a word from the Orwellian language “Newspeak” meaning solitary or individual. I love to be with people but I also appreciate my own “Lebensraum”, for want of a better word. Being an only child is probably the root of that particular proclivity.

Job

I’m an academic director in an International private college. I’m also a part-time teacher of English to non-native students and a translator/interpreter of French and Japanese. 

Activism

I organise a meetup.com support group for former Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religious cult I was brought up in. I also volunteer in several ways to help former members of high control religious groups (ex-cult members) as the effects of growing up in a cult can be very similar across groups.

Personality

Not to be too self-congratulatory, but I would say I’m a pleasant and intelligent person, self-aware and thoughtful.

On the negative side, I can occasionally be an antisocial and uncommunicative misanthrope. I tolerate living with other people, even my most beloved partners and friends, I need my own space (stemming from only-child syndrome). My pet hates are (1) overly earnest or excitable people, (2) people who constantly state the obvious, (3) people who ask stupid or unnecessary questions and (4) people who are constantly sickeningly positive and/or post motivational memes on social media… ugh! (5) I also hate…. SUNGLASSES 😱😱😱

I have a profound aversion to certain clichés, “deepities” and people who unwittingly live up to stereotypes. This can make me seem slightly misanthropic at times, especially when the eye-rolling and face-palming start. Someone with whom I can share a knowing glance about such matters would be wonderful.

I am a grognard. I’m very good at complaining. I seem to have picked up that from my Jamaican heritage, and it comes out whenever I hear people on the Tube/train with friends or on the phone, inadvertently and loudly telling everyone about their husband’s affairs or their wife’s escapades (*eye roll @ monogamists*)…. Tube announcements really piss me off. Why does TfL need to scream into my ear that “there is a good service on all London Underground lines” when that claim does not match the reality of my experience. 

After having lived in Japan and then coming back home to Old Blighty, the cacophonous shrillness of London became conspicuous, and I’ve never quite got over it.

Where it didn’t before, London now annoys me profoundly in an array of #firstworldproblems which really shouldn’t bother me, but do. So basically, my life revolves around moanig about public transport in London.
Hobbies

I’m an avid cyclist/rider/velocipedarian and have a vintage Francesco Moser cycle that needs a bit of work. I’ve been doing yoga almost once a week for a few months and I need to bite the bullet and get a season ticket for a local swimming pool. Lately I can be a bit lazy and stuck to computer/TV/mobile phone screens on my days off. I also don’t mind walking, but an old sports injury leaves me feeling achy and tired quickly.
I like to read, although I tend to go for non-fiction. I’m often reading books on science, biology, languages & linguistics, atheism, philosophy and psychology. If I do read fiction, I gravitate towards surreal or dystopian fiction; 1984 – Geroge Orwell, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, or anything by Fyodor Dostoyevsky or Murakami Haruki. Also The Handmaid’s Tale, Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, Parable of the Sower. 

I like watching TV, and have been addicted to Black Mirror, Utopia, Breaking Bad, Les Revenants, Orange is the New Black & Unbreakable Kimmy in the past year or two. Sci-fi geek. H2G2, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Dr Who, Red Dwarf fan. I like classic series like The Twilight Zone as well. I own loads of David Attenborough’s documentaries, Planet Earth, The Blue Planet, Life, Frozen Planet, Africa, and I never get tired of watching them over and over again.

I also love independent film as well as Hollywood movies and have a large collection of European and Asian cinema. I’m a member of the BFI. Very much into the directors Ozu, Tati, Miyazaki, Kaurismaki, Kieslowski and the films Dogtooth, If…, Brazil, Noone Knows About Persian Cats, District 9. Recently begun to appreciate African film, and I’d highly recommend, U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, Umkhungo, A Boy Called Twist, Soleils and Hasaki ya Suda.

I have a good memory for language-learning and linguistics is my most defining passion. I speak fluent English and French, near-fluent Japanese, intermediate Italian and lower intermediate German. I’ve attempted Russian and Norwegian and I’d love to learn every language on Earth, but nowadays I’m mainly working on improving the ones I already know.

I love travelling, and have spent several years in France and Japan and much shorter amounts of time in Germany, Thailand, South Korea and China. I particularly enjoyed epic journeys by train and one of my future plans is to go across Russia and Central Asia on the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian express.

That said, I don’t follow the “cult of YOLO” (a poorly thought out and clichéd rehash of “carpe diem” often used to excuse stupid behaviour; there truly is nothing new under the sun). I believe that one can have as much enjoyment in simple pleasures as by going out of your way to, say, jump out of planes.

Some of the simple delights I take pleasure in are music, reading and film. So if you enjoy film and cinema please message me… I tend to prefer independent and foreign films to Hollywood blockbusters. I’d love new attendees to my film club.

Most popular culture and celebrities bore me immensely. I believe most TV “reality” shows are actually evil incarnate (I’m not even joking). So if you watch them or talk about them I’ll just smile, nod and silently judge you…

In the autumn/winter, I often knit on the tube, which gets a lot of attention because I present as a man, but who cares about tired gender roles?

I have a few blogs which I run:

Love singing karaoke… and on a daily basis, suddenly bursting into a rendition of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas at random moments.

Race
I don’t chat with people who say “I like black guys” thinking that it’s a compliment. You either like ME as an individual or you don’t. With me you don’t get to put me with a large group of people in a box and exoticise me, this is not the 19th century and I’m not your “Hottentot Venus” to be paraded around to show how multicultural you are.

Sex and relationships

Polyamourous/panromantic/homoflexible/greysexual. Somewhere between all of those labels, lies me. I’ve still not found the right labels to sew onto myself yet. Perhaps they don’t exist.

I mostly date men (gay men, trans men, queer men), but I have dated women so I don’t automatically dismiss people based on superficial characteristics like man/woman, cis/trans, white/black, old/young. I prefer to take people on an individual basis rather than by specific types.

I have eliminated most things with the prefix mono- from my life (with perhaps the exception of monocles and monotremes, both of which I love). Mono- prefixed words I avoid are:

  • monoglottism
  • monotheism
  • monounsaturated fat
  • monotony
  • & monogamy

Sex is not dirty, I can’t understand how sex with a single person is considered “clean” and sex with two or more suddenly becomes “promiscuous”. We are large-brained animals, not fallen angels made in the image of God, sex is natural #dealwithit and enjoy it.

As a secular humanist, I believe in empirical rather than emotionally-based morality, therefore, I won’t judge you on sexually-related criteria such as number of sexual partners, level of promiscuity, HIV-status, current or previous escorting/prostitution, consensual fetishes or kinks. These things simply have no bearing on whether you are a good person. Promiscuity is a good thing of you are in control. Never lose control of your sex life.

Morality

Things that do matter are racial prejudice, biphobia, transphobia, animal cruelty. Although vegetarianism and veganism are preferred, just an awareness of the importance of empathy for fellow sentient beings is necessary to be my friend, droog or partner.

Sex

I love full beards/moustaches (or the clean shaven look)… I dislike goatees/van dykes/soul patches. I often cannot define the fine line between an acceptable beard and a van dyke, but I’ll know it when I see it. I think redheads are hot.

As a (not totally irrelevant) side point, I’m mostly top. Sexually there are a few things I find annoying, one of my bugbears is 69… what’s the point? Just take turns. All that upside-down shit is totally anathema to my enjoyment.

Please do not use the word “straight-acting” to refer to gay people who have more masculine mannerisms, fucking or being fucked by other men isn’t “straight-acting”, and in any case, the stigma around more feminine guys needs to end. I’m femme-friendly too.

If you’re one of those “black guys only” or “no black guys” people, then I’m unlikely to be interested even though I am black (or rather I have characteristics of the “black” phenotype). They’re just as bad as one another. Yes, everyone has a type, but it’s rude & prejudiced to dismiss everyone from a certain background without considering the individual. It’s better and more polite to just say “sorry you’re not what I’m looking for” & move on.

For example, I love short guys with ginger hair, moustaches & natural, unshaped beards, but I’m not going to state “short bearded gingers only” because it limits my horizons and I might find I like an individual who doesn’t have those features.

In addition, rejecting someone because they are not a short bearded ginger surely has an effect one the rejectee’s self-confidence and self-image.

Polyamory

I’m almost militantly anti-monogamous and I’m also not into polyfidelity; it reminds me too much of religious polygamy; the idea of “coupling up” is actually anathema to every fibre in my being. Commitment is of course commendable, but it isn’t something you can just decide on in one moment and then follow religiously for the rest of your life, no matter how much you like/love a person. Needs, wants and desires change and I believe a relationship should be flexible enough to change according to the needs of all involved without getting jealous or resentful.

As a poly “relationship anarchist” (which isn’t as scarily ruleless as it sounds), my relationships aren’t bound by having a “formal distinction between different types of sexual, romantic or platonic relationships”. Dictionary definition and practical reality tend to be different though and in reality it means I’m very open to discussing the direction of my relationship with a person and shifting back and forth along the “platonic-romantic-sexual” continuum as needs, desires and winds change. I can be quite shy about talking about my feelings and sex, but forcing myself to change. Just be open and I will be too.

I’m greyromantic to a certain extent, and have an unusual relationship with sex. I don’t need it and can survive for months without it, but when it is there I can enjoy it immensely. (I don’t know if that even has a name, I’ve looked up scores of definitions of terms and none of them seem to fit me)

Polyamory – My Definition and Experience

I’ve added this separate section on polyamory as I’ve had a lot of people asking me what it is.

In case you’re not familiar with it, a glossary of poly terms can be found here: https://www.morethantwo.com/polyglossary.html

Polyamory is a relationship style that involves an openness to being involved with more than one person at the same time rather than accepting social norms that dictate monogamy as the only acceptable form of love. The word “polyamory” means “loving more than one”. It is a non-possessive, honest, responsible ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. This love may be sexual, emotional, platonic, romantic, or any combination thereof, according to the desires and agreements of the individuals involved. It is is not about cheating, or dishonesty, it is responsible non-monogamy which pre-supposes that all people involved consent to this arrangement, and are honest about what is going on.

In many models, a primary partner is a person or persons with whom you share the bulk of your life, and secondary partners are those with whom you may have romantic or sexual friendships and who may or may not also be secondary partners to your primary (triad/delta vs. “V”).

Open polyamory is to closed polyamory as an open relationship is to a closed relationship. With open polyamory, you can engage in a particular casual sexual encounter as long as you are honest about that with any sexual partners (especially someone who has become your primary partner)… but the difference is emotional exclusivity is not required.

Many people have misconceptions about polyamory:

  • It isn’t polygamy as it doesn’t involve marriage.
  • It isn’t a harem as you don’t all live together in a commune and have a leader.
  • It isn’t an orgy because it isn’t defined by sex.

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.

A glossary of poly terms can be found here: https://www.morethantwo.com/polyglossary.html

I identify mostly with the “solo poly” and “relationship anarchy” style of poly (which is often misunderstood because of the negative connotations of “anarchist”). My personal model emphasises free agency and autonomy. I don’t like my relationships to be exclusively couple-centric and I value my freedom to choose my own relationships without seeking permission from others. I also believe in the flexibility in form of relationships take so there is not necessarily a clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner” in my view. In fact, the 4 categories (platonic friendship, sexual relationship, a romantic friendship, partner) are a fluid continuum for me. Therefore, I’m not “looking for” anything, I prefer if someone fits naturally into the role they wish to play in my life.

This doesn’t mean that I am opposed to having domestic and financial commitments with a primary partner who becomes so naturally, but that I will not make a rule from the outset saying that this person is to play, and will always play a particular role in my life.

I identify mostly with the “solo poly” and “relationship anarchy” style of poly (which is often misunderstood because of the connotations of “anarchist”). My personal model emphasises free agency and autonomy. I don’t like my relationships to be exclusively couple-centric and I value my freedom to choose my own relationships without seeking permission from others. I also believe in an almost infinite flexibility in the form that relationships can and do take so there is not necessarily always a clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner” in my view. Friendships, sexual relationships, romantic relationships and partnerships exist on a fluid continuum for me. I’m not “looking for” anything, I prefer if someone fits naturally into the role they wish to play in my life.
This doesn’t mean that I am opposed to having a mortgage or financial commitments with a partner with whom I come to cherish naturally, but that I will not make a rule from the outset saying that this person is to play, and will always play a particular role in my life. In addition, even if someone became my partner, I’d still want to remain open to forming new friendships and/or relationships. I don’t believe that love diminishes if you find someone new to love.
I don’t feel “polyfidelity” fits in with my model because it seems to engender the same sense of propriety as monogamy, but just with more than two people. That defeats the purpose of polyamory for me.

HIV & Stigma

I am HIV+ and have been undetectable for 4 years. I am extremely intolerant of people who show ignorance about this.

We are not living in the mid-1980s, so you won’t get a reply if you say you’re “clean” if you really mean “HIV-neg”, especially if you have bad-breath and a smelly crotch.

The mid-1980s was 30 years ago and we have moved on considerably medically and socially since then.

Undetectable means that it is practically impossible for someone to pass on HIV and the virus is at such low levels that it is not even detectable in someone’s bloodstream or other bodily fluids. The most accurate tests can detect 20 copies of a virus in a millilitre of blood. Putting that into perspective, the average viral load of a newly diagnosed person is 40,000,000 copies per millilitre.

Know your status (KYS), means be regularly tested, especially for HIV and Hep C and other STIs. I don’t care if you’re negative or positive, just be tested, and don’t be ignorant.

Even if you know your status, even if you’re undetectable/negative even if you’re on PrEP or TasP (“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis” or “ARV Treatment as Prevention”) I won’t have bareback with you, so don’t ask. When the pill came in, women didn’t stop using condoms just because there was no change of conceiving. There were other factors to take into account. Similarly, with the advent of PreP, there are other factors such as other STIs.

This is a “copy and paste” from the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV / AIDS

“An HIV-infected person on antiretroviral therapy with completely suppressed viraemia (“effective ART”) is not sexually infectious, i.e. cannot transmit HIV through sexual contact”. The Commission “realises that medical and biologic data available today do not permit proof that HIV-infection during effective antiretroviral therapy is impossible, because the non-occurrence of an improbable event cannot be proven”.

This does NOT mean that we should not always use condoms, but that we should think ourselves safer with a person under treatment than with someone who is not tested and ignorant of their status.

Sexually transmitted infections are mostly transmitted, not by people who have been tested and are on treatment, but by people who are ignorant of their status. If for example, you are HIV+, on anti-retrovirals and undetectable (under 20 viral copies/ml), the chances that you can pass on the infection are actually close to zero. If however, you are newly-infected and unaware of this fact (average 40,000,000 viral copies/ml) then the chances of passing it on are high.

Stigma makes people fearful of going to get tested, so paradoxically, the stigma surrounding HIV actually encourages its spread in the gay community.

Being HIV negative has no bearing on how “clean” you are, being HIV positive is not “toxic” or “poz” or any other stigmatising or glorifying words that people use.

Stop the stigma, get tested, know your status!

More information available here:

http://www.aidsmap.com/No-one-with-an-undetectable-viral-load-gay-or-heterosexual-transmits-HIV-in-first-two-years-of-PARTNER-study/page/2832748/ 

http://www.aidsmap.com/Swiss-experts-say-individuals-with-undetectable-viral-load-and-no-STI-cannot-transmit-HIV-during-sex/page/1429357/

http://www.poz.com/articles/hiv_meds_not_sexually_infectious_1_13922.shtml

http://www.aidsmap.com/March-2014/page/2842945/

http://www.poz.com/articles/hiv_condoms_virus_761_14010.shtml (video interview with an HIV specialist).