A UK tabloid stalked down Anderson Cooper's boyfriend, Ben Maisani, and snapped a picture of him kissing another man. The public has responded in one of two ways - "How dare anyone cheat on Anderson?" or "Gay man = open relationship."
I would like to start with saying I have no clue what agreement exists between Mr. Cooper and Mr. Maisani, but the reactions have much more to say about our views of sexuality and what constitutes a committed relationship than the strength of their bond.
First off - I am slightly offended by both reactions.
When we see one half of a couple having some fun on the side - we immediately think "cheating," and bad bad man, and liar - and often this is the truth. But sometimes the action of kissing (or more) some one else is a perfectly acceptable action within a couple without it in any way weakening the relationship. Sometimes it even makes the relationship better.
However, assuming they have an open relationship BECAUSE they are gay is just as fucked up. Stereotyping? Of course. Ammunition for the right wing as proof that gays will destroy the institution of marriage? Absolutely. But this is ignoring the fact that many gay couples are completely monogamous, and many straight couples are not.
Whatever view you take, an open relationship in-and-of itself is not a bad thing.
Stereotype or not, at least 75% of the gay male couples I know have an open relationship in some form - including myself. Sometime it is limited to playing together - but other times the couples are completely open.
However the thing I also notice is the requirement of complete honesty and trust. Jealousy still happens, but that is when there is a break in trust. And because of the important role of trust, I know very few couples who are open at the very beginning of their relationship.
For the first two years of my relationship, monogamy was the norm except for a few times inviting people in together. There were fights over when what most would call "cheating" happened, and there were some major test - the same as any couple, new or not, closed or open. But in my case at least, it was something that was easy to get past - because we trusted each other and knew each other well enough to know that we could both separate sex from love.
I know I am going to get negative comments, mostly in the direction of "giving ammo to the right-wingers." But part of our struggle for equal rights has also been a struggle for sexual freedom. Long before marriage entered the picture, we had to fight to make sex between gay couples legal - which sadly took a Supreme Court ruling less than ten years ago. I think we do ourselves a disservice to hide this as a way to sell marriage equality.
If Anderson Cooper's desire to maintain privacy in his life has continued even after coming out, I am doubtful we are going to get a response to the allegations. Unless he moves out, we are not going to know if this was "cheating" or within their rules. The story will be, "We are working on things," not a special episode of Anderson's show on the ups and downs of an open relationship.
What are your experiences with openness? Helpful? Hurtful? Hot?