My Dating Life Does Not Determine My Blackness

I wanted to create a digital space for ethical non-monogamy folx, but my self-disclosure came with the trolls

Gabrielle Smith
ZORA
Published in
5 min readDec 7, 2020

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Multiracial couple embracing while watching a sunset.
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

This past August, I started making resources on Instagram for folks interested in practicing ethical non-monogamy (ENM). The face of polyamory and ENM is overwhelmingly White and typically displays structures that replicate monogamy or coupledom. In this, I wasn’t really represented as a queer Black person who practices solo polyamory (meaning I am essentially my own primary partner). So I began working on ways to expand that. I’ve cultivated a humble following, but with that, naturally, comes the trolls.

Even though my work is about relationships, I try to stay vague about my own love life, though I occasionally show my partner and some of my friends in my stories. Because the approximately three people I’ve chosen to show my followers are White and I am loudly pro-Black on the internet, I was suddenly dubbed a fraud. I was pestered about whether I dated Black people, the number of folks I date, the race of my partner(s), along with a litany of other invasive comments on multiple posts. I decided not to answer directly, because I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation.

However, I wonder if these trolls, who are often Black men, see my choice in friends and lovers as hypocrisy. If I’m claiming to further the representation of people of color in the community, why does it look like I only spend time with White people?

The answer to that question is multifaceted and relies on proximity and coincidence, not intention. Ultimately, the folks I’ve chosen to show are the few people I currently spend time with. Why? We’re in a pandemic, and few people can agree to the strict guidelines my bubble follows. I do have other partners within my bubble, but I don’t show them because the relationship isn’t there yet. When I do spend time with people outside my bubble, it’s infrequent. Sometimes I post when I’m with my friends. Other times, I don’t because I’m more preoccupied with catching up on much-valued time with my non-White friends and lovers. I know that I have non-White partners, but I didn’t realize I needed to display them in order to reaffirm my commitment to my community, as well as my…

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Gabrielle Smith
ZORA
Writer for

Brooklyn based poet and essayist. Queer & Afro-Latina. Writing about love, sex, mental illness and intersectionality. // bygabriellesmith.com