Will and Jada: The Poster Couple that Polyamory Needs?

William Costello
9 min readJul 7, 2020

It wasn’t until I moved from Ireland to England at the age of 22 that I realised that not all gay men were stereotypically camp. Regretfully, I had an erroneous vision of gay men as effeminate, flamboyant, limp wristed and somewhat…silly. I was happily surprised to encounter masculine, sophisticated and mature men…who just happened to be gay.

This was not out of some homophobic Catholic Irish upbringing either, Ireland has proven itself to be one of the most progressive countries in the world on this front. In 2015 we became the first country in the world to vote, by way of referendum, to legalise same sex marriage.

My limited knowledge was simply because the only representation of gay men I had experienced in my relatively sheltered life was the caricature presented to me through media. I was just 15 when Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal ‘scandalised’ cinemas by ‘controversially’ depicting a gay couple on the silver screen in Brokeback Mountain. The fact that it is now laughable that this was once considered controversial is indicative of how far we’ve come in terms of visibility/representation for gay people.

However, my perception of what it meant to be gay could not change until I was presented with different characters around whom to build new stories.

Stereotypically Polyamorous

This brings us to our current perception of polyamorous or consensually non-monogamous couples, which is tritely stereotypical. Polyamorous people are invariably presented to us as overweight, unsuccessful, often with pink/blue hair and child-like eccentricities. They are held up as something to be poked fun at as symptomatic of an uber progressive political leaning. They are depicted as intellectually and sometimes even morally lacking. Louis Theroux, often championed for his ability to show empathy with even the most bizarre of lifestyles, still somewhat lampoons and derides the couples featured in his most recent documentary, Altered States: Love without Limits, albeit with his trademark subtlety.

Poly couples featured in Louis Theroux documentary were not presented as aspirational

It’s worth examining whether this is any more accurate a stereotype than my limited perception of what it meant to be gay. Firstly, we need to look at how common non-monogamous couples are.

William Costello

Psychology PhD Student University of Texas at Austin. MSc Psychology, Culture and Evolution from Brunel University London 2020/21. Bylines: Areo and Quillette.