“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1736
It’s October 2020.
As of this writing, there are 8,312,667 cases in the United States of the virus COVID-19. The death toll from that number is a staggering 221,438 lives…and climbing.
I’ve gone through two rewrites to this piece only because I wanted to find the right words to say regarding where we are at in this moment of history and how it impacts people (like me) who identify as ethically non-monogamous and who practice it as a Swinger (or in the Lifestyle).
My first attempt had me writing for what seemed like days of verbiage that even for me was too much to inflict on you, the reader. The next was how I saw how the Lifestyle community’s reaction to COVID-19 showed parallels to another deadly virus that inflicted millions of people in my/our lifetime: HIV/AIDS. How doctors and scientists responded, how the government responded, and how the general public reacted to all this news wasn’t too far from what we are seeing right now with how the general public is responding to this new viral intruder. I even thought about using the early 20th century’s response to the virus that generation faced in the Spanish Flu. Here’s a clue: No different to our current response except the technology today is way better than it was previously.
But sitting here at my kitchen table at 5 a.m. made me realize I’m rehashing all the past instead of focusing on the present. Presently, I am adding my voice to the many in the ENM community who (like me) realize if we ever want to get back to the way things were we’re going to have to accept that we will have to change our behavior to get there. It will not be easy nor should it ever be easy to do. It will take work and diligence, but we already know what is expected of us to do.
Think of this moment of reflection of our lives as a human budget check, of sorts; a time to assess the cost of being a human being on this planet and the things we need to value more than others. Work, rest, sleep, eating, etc. are things that are essential for us to survive day-to-day. Taking vacations, splurging on new furniture, taking part in hobbies, and the like are non-essential things we could live without and still survive as human beings. We like them enough, but it isn’t a life or death thing we need to survive our day-to-day lives. If we could be honest with ourselves, then let’s just admit being in the Lifestyle is a luxury item. It is not necessary to survive (although we like to think it is), but it is an extension of our sex life and how we express it. We could do without it for a time, but it won’t kill us. I can imagine for some of you reading this the knot in your stomach is forming by just suggesting Swinging is “just a luxury”. I imagine you are resisting such a suggestion I put on the table.
This same social resistance to change behavior to prolong our life is normal to feel. We had the same resistance in the past when condoms were the item suggested to use in the Gay community and with all ENM communities as well. This time around the face mask is the new condom. For those who hate the idea of wearing a mask, we see it as an attack on the intimacy of face-to-face connection with other human beings. This attack is happening now forcing all of us to keep our distance from our family, friends, and neighbors in every aspect of human socializing. Gatherings we’ve taken for granted all our lives are affected by these new changes in how to keep from acquiring the virus.
As a person who practices ethical non-monogamy, this truth has a huge impact regarding what I do, what my better half and I do together with others, and the entire scene as a whole. Small gatherings like House Parties, camping, boating, etc. are now vectors of the potential spread of the virus. If the threat on that level is scary enough, then imagine when you take it from small gatherings to on-premise clubs (where sexual encounters are allowed), hotel takeovers, cruises, and resort vacations in prime travel areas. Every one of these places is now potential vectors for the virus to spread delivering a huge blow to the community.
Right now, the 2020 Lifestyles calendar is a wash.
However, 2021 is now the focus to reopen some Lifestyle where event organizers are banking that next year is when they can recoup their losses, bring the community back to the partying ways, and make its beachhead to return in the state of Florida. Why Florida? Because Florida is one of several states not making face masks wearing a mandate. Florida is one of the leading states in the nation in COVID cases both with infection rates and deaths.
I love this community.
I love the fun and camaraderie swinging brings for consenting adults. But ignoring the possible infection and death of COVID is not just reckless but will impact many more people outside of the Lifestyle. Family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances may be exposed to the virus. Those who may go to these events will bring it home when they head back to their communities. Plus, planning these events in Florida so that you can avoid having to institute safeguard measures to protect your customers is both immoral and irresponsible.
Non-monogamous voices (bloggers, podcast hosts, and writers) have chimed in on this issue including writer K-Ghislaine with her latest blog post Swingers: Please Stop Swinging calling on the Lifestyle community to forgo events and gatherings for the sake of preserving the lives of everyone involved. To me, she is right in her assessment. Just like bathhouses and parties were the lifeblood of the Gay community before AIDS impacted their lives we must put a halt in how we gather together for the sake of stopping the spread of Covid-19 and do our part to curb the impact of the virus. As much as I want to continue enjoying our Non-Monogamy (in its many forms) the point is doing so is a luxury I can do without.
We will not live or die if we don’t have swinging in our lives for a brief time. The world will not stop because we can’t be at our favorite swing club or be able to meet new people. We can put it on hold for till the bigger issue of tackling COVID-19 is either subdued or a vaccine can protect the populace if or when we’re exposed.
Even though I am making a logical assessment to subside our Lifestyle enjoyment for a brief time we adults revert to our childhood not wanting to accept the truth. We want to go to the amusement park. We want to have that big birthday party. So when reasonable people explain why this can’t happen based on a health threat it is disheartening because “other kids get to have their fun, why can’t we?”
I understand adding my voice with others in the Lifestylers to use caution and put Swinging on hold will not sit well for those who want to get back to “normal”. But under the current circumstances, we need to face facts. Swinging must be put on pause till we get an all-clear from our medical and scientific communities. I don’t like it either, but we can’t take lightly this virus or think it could never hit our shores.
And yes, this virus cheated many of us from being able to see our friends, experience new moments in our lives. But we cheat ourselves by not taking the recommended actions to help stem the spread of Covid. These three things we need to do are:
*Wear Your Mask
*Wash Your Hands
*Practice Social Distancing
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control recommend these measures to help curb the spread. It is proven in various countries and communities that do this drives the number of new cases from increasing.
No, it doesn’t bring back lost revenue, the possible closure of on-premise clubs, put a damper on the Lifestyle travel calendar, and lost jobs. What we do gain from all this is time to do our part to help put the brakes on Covid. From there, we can then begin again and make sure each rebuild process is done with the best interest of everyone in the picture and healthy precautions to ensure safer experiences.
It is foolhardy to think we can get back to normal once a new year comes upon us. COVID-19 will still be with us until researchers and scientists either find a vaccine or we find ways to do our share to keep the virus at bay. As much as curtailing the party life will suck now, and however long it takes to get there, I will do my part to keep the virus from spreading among my friends and family. If not participating in Swinging for the foreseeable future means we all have a chance to enjoy life and live it abundantly then so be it.
My motivation is when the virus’ spread subsides, our approach to treatment works, and we don’t see the death toll increase any further what a party we will have overcome this moment of hardship. I look forward to the first party where we all feel safe enough to meet. Imagine the gratitude for the sacrifices made to get to that point. Imagine the celebration of life and love when that party happens.
Budgeting our lives for better gains is a painful process, but a necessary one. Keeping the things we do in perspective helps us make wise decisions that will help us get to where we want to go and do with our lives. I hope in the light of Covid-19 those who are in the Lifestyle will make these same assessments and do the right thing for yourself, your partners, and the community as a whole.