Monika McQ ‘Grow’

Driven by her mission of “moving forward,” Monika McQ reflects on her various moves across the country and her relationship with polyamory. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview & Photos By Pema Baldwin

“I went to a private Christian school around here and from, like, kindergarten on, I knew that all of that was BS. I feel like that shaped my perspective on things and how some people are very stuck in their ways — not willing to observe and come to proper conclusions.

I got expelled. They kicked me the hell out of the Christian school. I’m pretty sure they’re still up and running, but I did not fit in there. They also liked capital punishment, throwing kids in the corner, and things like that. So it was not a good environment to be in. I was glad to be gone. 

Then I went to public school, and that’s a whole other world.

It was nice to be introduced to that completely different group of people. Being in a Christian private school that had kind of a high tuition at the time meant you only knew the upper echelon of people and, sadly, most of them are white.

So going into a public school and being a part of the general populace with that whole stratum of different people — it was really cool. It was really nice. It was a good change of pace and I knew it felt right. Y’know? It was interesting.

Then we went to Iowa for a couple of years, then Delaware for two more, and then I went to Ohio for a good decade. I was just following my family. My dad had a job with an analytics firm, so he was working with a bunch of different big banks and companies.

I was a super anime geek from middle school on: always wearing my Tripp pants and some sort of anime or band tee shirt.

I went to four different high schools, and at every high school that I was at, I started an anime or manga club with video games to compliment that. 

We’d meet every week or so for about an hour to play video games, watch anime, and exchange manga. It was a lot of fun. It’s a good way to meet a lot of different people.

I did five years of high school because I decided to go to my great grandfather’s funeral, so I failed the second semester of sophomore year, and I just didn’t have enough credits to graduate. It worked out, though. I met Hanna, one of my partners, and we’ve been together since then for the past 11 years.

I met her my first senior year, and then we started dating during that. We’ve always been super close. She and I immediately moved out, bought a place together, and it’s been perfect ever since. We’re a good team.

Billy is my other partner. We’ve been together for two or three years. Being poly is a little bit different. Hanna and I have been open for forever and ever, and we’ve been poly for the last four years or so. 

It’s nice to not only be open, but to date someone else and have them be a part of your circle, and be close to them, and enjoy their presence.

I think it’s purely a normal human thing. I feel like society, and especially religion, has really oppressed us into thinking that it’s not normal and that monogamy is a thing. For a lot of people that works. That’s what they were raised on. That’s what they’re used to. That’s what they see everywhere. But I don’t feel like people, or at least some people, work that way. 

I think that’s where a lot of infidelity comes from, actually: feelings of jealousy, complacency, or just being bored in your relationship and looking for something else.

It’s like eating food; you don’t want to eat oatmeal for the rest of your life. Occasionally you want some granola thrown in. As long as the granola and oatmeal are okay with that, then it’s all good.

I like to know that when I’m at work or out in the forest or something that Hanna’s not alone — that Billy is not alone. They’re spending time with each other. They’re watching TV and making sure they’re all good.

It really hinges on the main principle of compersion — of receiving joy from seeing other people be happy and joyful.

And I feel like if Hanna or Billy are kissing each other, it’s just like I’m getting kissed. I don’t know. It’s weird, and it’s really cool. Maybe I just sympathize a lot more with people.

I don’t get any sort of jealousy. If anything, it’s like, ‘Aw man, I’m going to have to watch that TV show on my own.’ Or, ‘I’m going to have force you guys to sit through it again so I can watch it.’ Because I like experiencing it with them, you know. It’s really just about getting scheduling down because I want to be with them.

We’re going on three, three and a half years now.

The LGBT community is fantastic here — hella better than Ohio, that’s for sure. I would get super stared at in Ohio just wearing normal clothes. I don’t know if there’s an influx of us or if we’re just more proud to be ourselves and open, but there definitely seems to be a whole lot of us here.

It’s such a conservative place … The rest of us have to be free to make up for it, I guess. They’re very constrained, but I feel like it makes sense. A lot of us come from those backgrounds.

Living underneath a mountain is great. 

I like riding my bike. I usually do 30 to 40 miles a week, and then I run around 30 miles a week — on a good week. Usually it’s around 20.

I’m doing pretty good and in the trail running divisions these days. In the last 10k that I ran I got first in my age range, and being a trans athlete as well — it’s really phenomenal that they’re letting me compete and that they’re not having any qualms with that. I did my second year of the Barr trail race, which is a half marathon halfway up Pikes Peak and then back down again. And then, also this summer, I did the Pikes Peak Ascent. I did that in four and a half hours. It was a lot of fun. I spent most of my summer just running.

My best time on the Incline is 30 minutes, 15 seconds. But my average time is somewhere around 36 to 42. I’m sure with the winter coming, it’s probably going to be more towards 42. But yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I get out there every other day. It helps that I’m two miles away, so I just ride my bike to the incline, do it a couple of times, and then come back.

The tattoo on my knuckle is ‘gallium, radon, oxygen, and tungsten,’ but it kind of spells out ‘Grow’ with the atomic symbols, and that’s just one of my main philosophies in life. You gotta keep growing. Gotta keep going.

On my right arm I have tiny molecules and things like that, like chocolate and capsaicin, and I have something called a Mulder’s chart here, which helps with lockout, with nutrients. 

Then on my left arm I’ve got all space stuff — large things. I’ve got Hubble and it’s looking at a picture of the Rose galaxy. It’s a couple of intersecting galaxies. 

We’ve got another nebula here and a mandala, just symbolizing the symmetry and the synergism between large and small things, and how we’re stuck in the middle. 

But yeah, that’s really about it: ‘Grow.’ That’s just stuck there on those knuckles. I mean, you just gotta keep trucking — gotta keep moving forward. On my other hand, I’ll be getting a silicone implant of a triskele, if you’ve ever heard of that. 

The whole idea is revolution, moving forward, and improving, so I’ll have those three swirls on my left hand. Just reminding me to keep on trucking. It’s all connected. We’re all just in one tiny bubble right now, you know. Just one little speck of dust floating through a big vast emptiness.

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