Expanding the Rainbow

Exploring the Relationships of Bi+, Polyamorous, Kinky, Ace, Intersex, and Trans People


Expanding the Rainbow is the first comprehensive collection of research on the relationships of people who identify as bi+, poly, kinky, asexual, intersex, and/or trans that is written to be accessible to an undergraduate audience. The volume highlights a diverse range of identities, relationship structures, and understandings of bodies, sexualities, and interpersonal relationships. Contributions to the volume include original empirical research, personal narratives and reflections, and theoretical pieces that center the experiences of members of these communities, as well as teaching resources. Collectively, the chapters present a diverse, nuanced, and empirically rich picture of the variety of relationships and identities that individuals are creating in the twenty-first century.

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  • Introduction
Brandy L. Simula, PhD (she/her/hers), is a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow at Emory University. She has published on gender, sexuality, and identity in Sexualities, the Journal of Homosexuality, the Journal of Bisexuality, Sociology Compass, and a number of edited volumes.
J.E. Sumerau, PhD (she/they), is an assistant professor and the director of applied sociology at the University of Tampa. They are the author of over 70 articles, chapters, and monographs at the intersection of sexualities, gender, religion, and health related to societal patterns of violence and inequality.
Andrea Miller, PhD (she/her/hers), is a Full Adjunct Professor of Sociology and a Fellow for the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Webster University. She has published in the area of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her most recent article is “The Mis-education of Lady Gaga: Confronting Essentialist Claims in the Sex and Gender Classroom” which she considers a primer for teaching the social construction of sexualities.
"Altogether an important contribution, Expanding the Rainbow provides not only valuable information but also insight into the lives, relationships, and identities of people who are sexually marginalized." – C. Apt, South Carolina State University, in: CHOICE Magazine
"If you want to understand the identities, relationships, and family forms in the contemporary US, you need this book. Too much in the sociology (often unconsciously) treats the terms that define what’s largely considered ‘normal’ as essential to humanity and society: that sex and gender are binaries; that true love occurs only in sexual pairings; that intimate relationships, while usually full of power relations, only work when that power remains invisible; that there’s something wrong with the people who reveal how wrong these assumptions can be. Expanding the Rainbow shows us how the world works from the perspectives of people who are bi/pan+, asexual, polyamorous, intersex, trans, and into BDSM—the very people whose experiences, because they have been marginalized, stand to teach us the most about what it means to relate intimately to others, to form families and communities, to be human." – Dawne Moon, Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender/Sexuality Studies, Marquette University
"This book is the urgently needed next step in examining relationships and families, as well as the lives of LGBTIQ+ people. Through theoretical, empirical, and personal pieces, the authors in Expanding the Rainbow push sociological work on ‘the family’ to take seriously types of families that are systematically ignored by researchers. They push us past the mainstream (even normative) profile of ‘same-sex families’: two middle-class white cisgender gay men (sometimes lesbian women) who are married and have 2.5 kids. The text introduces readers to relationships and families that are hardly ever visible in the mainstream, even in this time of ‘marriage equality.’ It also does the important work of pushing us to stop viewing trans and intersex individuals as just ‘individuals,’ as though these members of the LGBTIQ+ community are perpetually single, sexless, and lonely. As a Black queer non-binary person, I’m so happy to finally encounter a book that reflects me, my identities, and my family." – Eric Anthony Grollman, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Richmond
"Expanding the Rainbow is a breath of fresh air in the field of sexualities and gender. The current lack of scholarship on bi+, poly, kink, asexual, intersex, and/or trans presents a challenge in the classroom when discussing the intricacies of these relationships and identities. Now, Expanding the Rainbow offers a comprehensive review of the LGBTQQIAP spectrum that´s accessible to academic and non-academic audiences alike. The insightful and deeply personal narratives of members from these diverse communities, including activists and scholars, help readers to better relate to experiences outside their own purview. This timely volume would make a great addition to undergraduate courses addressing sexualities, gender identities, relationships and the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and nationality." – Mandi Barringer, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of North Florida
"Expanding the Rainbow illuminates complexities of sex, gender, and sexuality that remain largely overlooked and underemphasized within sociology. Editors Brandy L. Simula, J. E. Sumerau, and Andrea Miller begin this volume with great care, introducing readers to the marginalized identities and corresponding terminology that the content showcases: bisexuality, polyamory, kink, asexuality, intersex, and transgender. The ensuing content is carefully curated, featuring the research and personal experiences of established scholars alongside the innovative perspectives of emerging scholars. The diverse standpoints, methods, and theoretical insights of these writers highlight complex hues of the rainbow that many people struggle to see." – Helana Darwin, Doctoral Candidate, Stony Brook University
"The collection is an accessible read and useful for readers who want to know more about people on the sexual fringes of society, as it considers a seemingly exhaustive list of sexual orientations and identities. Altogether an important contribution, Expanding the Rainbow provides not only valuable information but also insight into the lives, relationships, and identities of people who are sexually marginalized." – C. Apt, South Carolina State University, in: CHOICEconnect
R. F. Plante Preface

Brandy L. Simula, Andrea Miller and J. E. Sumerau

Part 1: Bi+ and Plurisexual Relationships

1. “By Definition They’re Not the Same Thing”: Analyzing Methods of Meaning Making for Pansexual Individuals
Ashley Green
2. You Cared before You Knew: Navigating Bi+ Familial Relationships
Nik Lampe
3. Sibling Relationships and the Bi+ Coming out Process
Lain A. B. Mathers
4. Autoethnographic Insights on Media Representations of Bi Narratives
Brittany M. Harder

Part 2: Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships

5. Polyamory and a Queer Orientation to the World
Mimi Schippers
6. Monogamy vs. Polyamory: Negotiating Gender Hierarchy
Michelle Wolkomir
7. Margins of Identity: Queer Polyamorous Women’s Navigation of Identity
Krista L. Benson
8. Race, Class, Gender, and Relationship Power in Queer Polyamory
Emily Pain
9. Relational Fluidity: Somewhere between Polyamory and Monogamy (Personal Reflection)
J. E. Sumerau and Alexandra “Xan” C. H. Nowakowski

Part 3: Kinky/BDSM Relationships

10. BDSM Relationships
Robin Bauer
11. Kink Work Online: The Diffuse Lives of Erotic Webcam Workers and Their Clients
Angela Jones
12. BDSM Disclosures and the Circle of Intimates: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Identity and Disclosure Audience and Response
Katherine Martinez
13. Finding Yourself in the Dark: On Submission, Healing, and Acceptance (Personal Reflection)
Mar Middlebrooks

Part 4: Asexual Relationships

14. Asexualities, Intimacies and Relationality
Tiina Vares
15. At the Intersection of Polyamory and Asexuality
Daniel Copulsky
16. Asexuality and the Re/Construction of Sexual Orientation
C. J. Chasin
17. Queering the Nuclear Family: Navigating Familial Living as an Asexual (Personal Reflection)
Katie Linder

Part 5: Intersex Relationships

18. Understanding Intersex Relationship Issues
Cary Gabriel Costello
19. Not Going to the Chapel? Intersex Youth and an Exploration of Marriage Desires and Expectations
Georgiann Davis and Jonathan Jimenez
20. Shifting Medical Paradigms: The Evolution of Relationships between Intersex Individuals and Doctors
Sarah S. Topp

Part 6: Transgender Relationships

21. Trans Relationships and the Trans Partnership Narrative
Carey Jean Sojka
22. “I Try Not to Push It Too Far”: Trans/Nonbinary Individuals Negotiating Race and Gender in Intimate Relationships
alithia zamantakis
23. Generational Gaps or Othering the Other? Tension between Binary and Non-Binary Trans People
stef m. shuster
24. Research on Gender Identity & Youth: Incorporating Intersectionality
Griffin Lacy
25. Symbiotic Love: On Dating, Sex, and Interpersonal Relationships between Transgender People (Personal Reflection)
Shalen Lowell

For Use in the Classroom: Notes on Teaching outside the Rainbow
Andrea Miller
Notes on Contributors
Scholars, students, medical and mental health professionals, and the general public interested in gender, sexuality, identities, LGBTQIA issues, social movements, health, social psychology, and relationships.
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