I managed to go to the Rainbow Lunch at work. It's every Monday. I tried before but failed because I did not recognize which people hanging around the canteen entrance might be the queer folk.
I am still nervous about this. I imagine the other people (not so many, about 6 people come to each lunch) are probably all gay or lesbian (well actually all gay as they are all men) and not bi, even though I have no evidence for this. So what will they think about the fact that I am married to a man? Or that I am poly?
Today during the Rainbow Lunch I took the opportunity to mention that I have a husband and a girlfriend. It went reasonably well.
It started with one of the guys telling another one that colleagues had been talking about him (because they needed to get him a present because he was going to change the department), realized they know not much, and wondered if he has a girlfriend. Much laughter ensued. That guy was also pretty surprised as he had not been keeping his boyfriend a secret at all.
The difficulty in German is that there are no words for girlfriend and boyfriend (however, like almost all words, the word for friend is gendered: Freund for male friends, Freundin for female friends). The way this is usually handled is to say "my/your/his/her friend" to indicate an intimate friend, so what would be called boyfriend or girlfriend in English. When meaning a non-intimate friend one would usually say "a friend of mine/yours/his/hers". However, this is not a definite rule. One could refer to a non-intimate friend with "my friend", too. Just when the gender of this person is opposite to yours people will assume you are dating ... and apparently if the two of you are the same gender they will assume you are not
. The guys called it "hetero deafness".
Then the topic went to how to express "boyfriend" to make it clear to heteros, too. E.g. one of them says "mein Mann", which would mean both "my man" and "my husband".
So I took the chance to say: I am married to a man and I have a girlfriend, and it would be difficult to communicate this to someone who is not polyamorous and does not have the same vocabulary like "primary" and "secondary relationship".
So the guy right to me says (and laughts): Hey, there are words for this, e.g. "cheating" (there is a word in German that literally means "side-jump" and is not quite as negative as "cheating" is in English). He said something else along the line, but I forgot what it was, or maybe it was "open relationship".
I tell him it's not cheating, my husband knows I have a girlfriend and he is completely okay with this.
The guy to my left asks how this works, how do they get along? I tell him they haven't met, yet, but they might eventually, if they decide so. And I mention she has a husband, too.
The guy to the right says now (and still laughs): Oh, Swinging! I tell him no, that's something completely different, because we don't meet together.
Others ask other question: "But how does this work? How do you arrange the time?" I tell him I don't see my girlfriend very often, only once or twice a month and in some months not at all; but that other people might see their secondary partners more often.
Now the guy to the right who had been joking tells he is in an open relationship. That faithfulness (Treue) got a completely different meaning for him since then. He would never leave his boyfriend, they will spend their life together. But originally he went and met other guys alone and now they often do it together and have fun.
Now the a bit older man who calls his boyfriend (they are not legally "partnered") his man/husband says this would not be for him (neither open relationship nor polyamour).
This time there is also another woman finally and she says for her this would not work either, but right now it doesn't matter because she is single anyway.
BTW the woman is the one who I re-met at the LGBT event in October, who was my student at university while I was a teaching assistant (I think that position would be called teaching assistant in English, but I am not completely sure ... something that can be done by undergrads, too.) And we have to wear name tags now (since last April). So she noticed my changed last name. She commented on this later, that she had been wondering how come. However, not just in an (opposite-gender) marriages it is possible to adopt the partner's last name, this is also possible in (same-gender) "registered partnerships". But it was good I happened to mention it before, otherwise she would have asked later.
So all in all it went quite well and I am happy about it.