A polyamorous relationship is one in which one or more of the participants are involved romantically or sexually with more than one individual at a time.[2] Each person involved in the relationship consents to the situation and is aware of the non-monogamous nature.[3] The concept of polyamory as a queer identity is controversial on the basis of polyamory alone rather than other aspects of identity, such as sexual orientation. Being polyamorous is not specific to LGBTQIA+ people; cisgender and heterosexual people can be polyamorous, and LGBTQIA+ people are not necessarily polyamorous.[4]

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'Poly' comes from the Greek word meaning "many", and "amory" comes from the Latin word meaning "love". The combination of Greek and Latin roots, which is against traditional language rules, emphasizes how polyamory relationships go against typical romantic and sexual norms. Morning Glory Zell Ravenheart, who was a member of Oberon Zell's Church of All Worlds, coined the word "polyamory" in print in the late 1980s.[5]


The first symbol for the polyamory community was the poly parrot, created by Ray Dillinger in 1997, which was the familiar logo for the alt.polyamory Usenet group. He called the image the "Parrot Club Mascot" and said he created the image specifically for use on polyamory sites.[6] The infinity heart as a symbol for polyamory arose in the mid-1990s and was first created by Brian Crabtree. As new versions appeared throughout the 2000s and 2010s, the popularity of the poly parrot faded out.[7][8]


A polyamorous flag

19th Century

The roots for modern-day polyamory can be traced all the way back to the 1840s. From the 1840s to the 1870s, Oneida Community, a Christian commune in upstate New York, practiced what was referred to as 'complex marriage'.[9] In this practice, everyone in the community was considered married to each other, and abandoning traditional marriage was seen as the way to avoid sin. Although the community had its shortcomings, Oneida was so far ahead of its time that it has continued to be a model for polyamorous innovators today.[5]

1960s and 1970s

In the 1960s and 1970s, a second wave of polyamory occurred among hippies in what is known as the 'free love movement'. In this time, fringe groups around the country experimented with non-monogamy in what was termed 'group marriage'.[9]

At the same time as these intentional communities came to exist, support groups and publications positively portraying polyamorous relationships began to crop up. Some of these were short-lived, and others lasted long enough to have an impact on the form of modern polyamory. One, inspired by Heinlein’s Stranger In a Strange Land, was Oberon Zell’s Church of All Worlds. A member of this group, Morning Glory Zell Ravenheart, coined the word polyamory in print for the first time in the late 1980s.[5]


During the 1990s, the Internet sparked a third wave of polyamory, after AIDS had driven it underground during the 1980s. A Usenet newsgroup called alt.polyamory helped build a community.[9]


The original polyamorous flag was created by Jim Evans in 1995.[8] He made it in Microsoft Paint using websafe colors.[10] This flag displays stripes of blue to represent openness and honesty, red to represent love and passion, and black to show solidarity with those who must hide their polyamorous relationships from the outside world.[11]

There have been many interpretations for what the pi symbol represents. Some people think the pi symbol represents polyamorous people having “infinite love", as pi has infinite decimal places.[11] Others say the pi symbol references how “polyamory” also starts with “p”.[8] It is also possible it was chosen in part because it was one of the few symbols available to Evans in Microsoft Paint.[10] However, its gold color is widely accepted to represent the value that we place on the emotional attachment to others, be the relationship friendly or romantic in nature, as opposed to merely primarily physical relationships.[7][8]

As time went on and it peaked in the summer of 2020, the flag was recognized by many in the community as undesirable.[12] People wanted to move away from the garish colors of the original and use symbology that was easier to comprehend.[10] Of all the alternatives proposed, the most common was made by Molly W.

The flag is comprised of four stripes, all of equal height. The colors of this flag include lime green for growth, kelly green for balance, sky blue representing freedom, and royal blue for trust. The infinity heart represents the concept of infinite love. The infinity heart in this flag touches every other color on the flag, unifying the concepts that the colors represent. The infinity heart is white, for two reasons. First, not many colors looked good against the other colors I selected, and I wanted something that was easy on the eyes. Second, in the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) color spectrum, white is the color you get when red, green, and blue are combined, and thus represents the combination of all the colors. Philosophically, that made sense to me when viewed through the lens of polyamory: it represents many uniting to create something new and different.


Although polyamory challenges social norms related to monogamy, polyamorous relationships do not necessarily challenge other sexual or gender norms. A cisgender straight man in relationships with multiple women upholds patriarchal and cisheteronormative beliefs that it is "natural" for men to want multiple sexual partners and for those partners to be women. Polyamory does not necessarily include relationships between people of the same gender. It thus is not generally viewed as a societally oppressed group identity or a marginalized identity comparable to being LGBTQIA+.[4]

Polyamorous is often an identity term, but whether or not polyamory is a sexual orientation has been debated. Some polyamorous people regard it as a choice or lifestyle that they may not practice throughout their lifetime. Others regard polyamory as an innate desire that they have experienced throughout their lifetime and are unable to change, comparable to the mainstream understanding of sexual orientation, or identify their sexual orientation as polyamorous.[13][14] Some have proposed defining polyamory as a "relationship orientation".[13]

Perceptions and discrimination

Some polyamorous people have experienced discriminatory treatment on the basis of their polyamory. Since polyamorous relationships are not legally protected in most Western jurisdictions, they may be discriminated against in employment, housing,[13][14] and child custody.[14] In the United States, state laws regarding bigamy prevent marriage between more than two people, while zoning laws can restrict the number of unmarried adults who can share a home. The push for legal recognition of polyamory has sometimes been accused of co-opting the language of gay liberation.[13] Despite this, some jurisdictions have begun allowing greater legal freedoms for those in polyamorous partnerships.[1]





Public Figures

  • Leanne Yau of Poly Philia


Here you can place useful resources relevant for the described topic.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Klein, Jessica: "Ethical non-monogamy: the rise of multi-partner relationships" (2021-03-26). BBC.
  2. Bass, Lianna: "Greatest Guide to Polyamory: Myth vs Fact" (2021-12-22). Greatest.
  3. Geldean, Amy: "Types of Polyamorous Relationships" (2021-07-19). The Relationship Place.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hole, Morgan Lev Edward. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019. ISBN 9781784506636.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Anapol, Deborah. Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. ISBN 9781442200234.
  6. "A List of Poly Symbols".
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The polyamory flag is a grim, confusing failure. Let's do better.".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "What is the Polyamory pride flag and what does it mean?".
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Libby Copeland: "The surprisingly woman-friendly roots of modern polyamory".
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Molly W.: "New Polyamory Pride Flag".
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lauren Pineda: "Polyamory: What Is It and Why Does the Flag Have the Pi Symbol on It?".
  12. "Polyamorous Flag".
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 McArthur, Neil: "Why People Are Fighting to Get Polyamory Recognized as a Sexual Orientation" (2016-08-17). Vice. (Archived on February 3, 2022).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Sheff, Elisabeth: "Is Polyamory a Form of Sexual Orientation?" (2016-10-04). Psychology Today. (Archived version).
  15. "Willow Smith opens up about being polyamorous".