Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Loving More is Officially a 501(c)3 Charitable Organization

Loving More Executive Director Robyn Trask writes:

I am overjoyed to announce that Loving More's pending 501(c)3 non-profit status has been approved and the status is retroactive to May 2006. This means we are officially a tax deductible charitable organization dating back to May 2006. The non-profit status allows us to apply for both public and private grants, receive tax deductible donations and exempts us from most sales tax requirements. Loving More now has to apply for Colorado State Tax Exemption which will simply be submitting the 501(c)3.

Tax deductible donations can only be taken for the year in which the donations were made. For those who may have contributed over $1,000 and who itemize your tax return, it may be worth filing an amended return for previous years donations. Contact your accountant or the IRS directly to find out what your options are.

In addition to this great news, Loving More has moved into its new office. The office is a shared space with room to teach classes and workshops. The space serves as both an office and a center for workshops on polyamorous relationships. We will hold our first discussion group in the new class space for the Colorado poly community on Tuesday, March 30, at 7:00pm. We will also have a Grand Opening on April 10 at 1:30pm.

This is a really big step forward for Loving More and for the poly community. Now more than ever we need your help in meeting our financial goal of raising $30,000 in donations. We have raised thus far this year $8,075 but we have a long way to go.

We are also seeking help from people who have experience in applying for grants. Please contact us at 970-667-5683 if you have knowledge of grant writing or finding suitable grants.
Help Us Out by Donating!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Afternoon with the Washington Area Secular Humanists

On this past Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of presenting a program on polyamory to the Washington Area Secular Humanists.  One of their organizers reached out to me a couple of months ago, said that a fair number of members were interested in hearing more about polyamory, and invited me to speak at an upcoming monthly gathering.  

Though I knew that some attendees probably weren't going to be entirely comfortable with this idea, I felt it important to take advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness of polyamory, especially with a group that rejects the oppressiveness of organized religion and dogma.   Their values make them potential allies. 

About 40 people turned out.   They were polite, respectful, and asked good questions.   My basic poly 101 presentation was enhanced so as to include some detail on the ethics of polyamory. Secular Humanists highly value ethical behavior, so it was important to demonstrate how it is that polyamory is an ethical manner in which to conduct one's intimate relationships. 

The WASH representatives very kindly permitted me to briefly introduce Michael Rios and Sarah Taub of Network for a New Culture and Ricci Levi of The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, very different organizations that nevertheless both welcome and support polyamorous people.   They also announced the event on the Chesapeake Polyamory Network yahoogroup and invited people to attend, which I especially appreciated.  It was nice to see some local poly community members and CPN representatives there, some of whom very kindly volunteered to help me field questions during the break and after the program ended.

Thanks to Don, Shelley, and everyone with WASH for their kindness and support!. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Moving Letter from a Woman Polyamorist in Bulgaria

One of the most exciting things happening in the world of polyamory today is it's rapid growth in new locations around the world.  Though the growth of interest in and the practice of polyamory in the United States has increased so there are many fewer polyamorists isolated with no real local community, such people still exist.  So, too, do they exist in other countries.  (See my post about my delightful connection with Leonie Linssen in the Netherlands who is pretty much single-handedly organizing poly community in that country.) 

I received this week two compelling messages from a very isolated polyamorist in Bulgaria named Violeta Stoykova-Jakobson, and she has given me her permission to share them with all of you.  She is an excellent example of how it is that no matter what our race, our nationality, or our religious background, some of us just know that we were never meant to live a life of monogamy.  And it is messages like these that inspire me to continue my advocacy work for polyamorists everywhere, especially those who can't advocate for themselves in their own home town.  While I appreciate her kind words, they truly apply to all the wonderful polyamory advocates I know who are working to make things better for all of us who consider ourselves polyamorous. 

Vili, as she signs her messages, writes:

Dear Anita,

Thank you for the work that you are doing.  Depending on the perspective, in 21st century the world might look smaller or greater, crowded with loving, amicable people or with alienated ones.

To be born and to grow up in your little corner of that world (Bulgaria in my case) is not easy.  In my life I never saw working, mutually rewarding monogamous relationship between straight individuals.  I didn't have positive role models.  So,when I identified myself as bisexual and polyamorous I felt both open to the experience and shocked by it!

"Why me?  Why it has to happen exactly to me?", was my initial reaction.  Because of Internet (providing me the necessary information I can learn from) and due to the important job people like you do, I have hope for my future, the future I am not willing to spend as an outcasted victim - weak, silent, invisible.

I intend to relocate to California pretty soon, to live with my husband and see what America can offer me...and what I can give to myself and my beloved ones.

I certainly intend to help her connect with local poly community when she has relocated.  Vili continues in her second message: 

I have always felt like an old soul, like someone who, in the past, was imprisoned in the vulnerable body of a child but bore in it the insights of timeless wisdom.

You might (reasonably) want to ask me do I believe my heart is unbreakable now.  No, I came to the realization that a heart can be "broken" only in the context of someone else"owning" it.  You know the patern- "I'll come and hurt you by creating a chaos inside you or by telling you what you should feel in your heart because I've been hurt in the past and that's the only way of  'living' I know!"

Well, my person grew up enough for a shift of the paradigm, I opened myself up to the new ways in which I perceive life at present.  Why am I so dauntless?  I am full of surprises.  I am a member of the LDS church, usually called the mormons.  I joined it at the age of 19, completely oblivious about my sexual, spiritual,and relationship orientation, so to say.

When I came to terms with the truth about myself more than three years ago, I wanted to resign from it because I couldn't reconcile the church's policy about its GLBT members (and alternative lifestyles in general) with the unconditional love of Christ, with the same love I felt to be the core of my being. 

.... after eight years in the church I met two young men, serving their mission in my hometown, who turned my world upside down.  One of them became my husband (though not in law yet - for political/practical reasons), the other one I call "my smallest bit of paradise".  They "introduced" me to the reality of polyamory and I'll never regret that!

...My husband's ex-girlfriend turned [out] to be someone with serious mental issues.  Being unable to accept the fact that he no longer wishes to be with her, she drove us crazy.  She wrote nasty,malicious handwritten letters and e-mails to both of us.  She bothered me on Facebook - I had to delete my profile because even though I blocked her she continued the harassment by sending her aquaintances to abuse me.  They pretended to be potemtial friends of mine, but after I opened the door to my universe all I heard was how I am sinful/will burn in hell or abandon my beloved one for another woman(since I am openly bisexual).  She even googled my name!

I resisted all attacks.  I know what love is.  I am sure how it feels for me - not limited by gender or number.  My husband (he's much more than the institutionalized word for me; he's my sweet accomplice in life's adventures) loves my strength, courage and openness.  In a kind of society where everyone is masking everything he loves my nature, my real face.  He still has a lot of work to do to catch up with me. 

My letter already became long,so I want to say only one more thing.  Honesty is my policy.  Being bisexual and polyamorous doesn't necessary mean that I will be engaged in multiple, parallel relationships with both men and women.  They might happen to me, they might not.  I may crave for them, I may not.  Love comes to us when we are ready to decide whether to follow it or to stay the miserable grey mice in the corner.  Who I am is the fastest way to freedom.

Best regards,


P.S.  Please stay in touch with me.  The desert of loneliness is unbearable.

So much of what Vili writes resonates for me, especially her comment in the last paragraph about when love comes to us and about being who we really are being the fastest way to freedom.  And the religious harrassment she endured via her husband's ex is an all-too common story for those who identify as polyamorous and/or bisexual.  But the most compelling of all is what she says in her postscript.  It can indeed be lonely to be the only poly-identified person you know.  But she is surely not alone.  If you would be willing to be Vili's polyamorous pen pal, please send me your name and email address and a little about yourself and I'll send it to her. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mo'Nique's Open Marriage Admission Spawns Wider Coverage

It's very exciting to see what is happening in the media and online as a result of Mo'Nique's admission that she and husband Sidney have an open relationship. Here's my friend Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, in a Dallas TV interview on the subject which was just posted to the Dallas CW affiliate's website.  (The CW network serves younger adults.) And of course included is requisite marriage and family therapist expert, in this case Dr. Ross Stewart, who typically claims that since the marriages of all in open relationships he's counseled have failed, then open marriage is proven not to work. Why does it never occur to these people that theirs is a biased sample?? He doesn't see the people whose open marriages are working well for them. Duh.


If you are reading this on Facebook, you can see the video here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mo'Nique Tells It Like It Is About Her Open Marriage

Here's the clip where you will hear exactly what Mo'Nique had to say about her open marriage in her interview with Barbara Walters aired last night. You can mouse-over the bottom portion of the video and use the slider bar to move ahead to the pertinent part, which is between 7:30 and 9:15 if you aren't interested in the entire interview.

If you're reading this on Facebook, you can see the video here after a short commercial.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010 Oscar Winner Mo'Nique Declares Hers an Open Marriage

3/7/10 UPDATE:  I wrote this post before Mo'Nique's interview with Barbara Walters aired on Sunday night just before the Academy Awards program.  Now that I've seen it I must make a correction.  Sidney and Mo'Nique have been married a few years amd have been best friends for over 25 years.  Sidney is Mo'Nique's third husband. 

Congratulations to Mo'Nique for winning the Oscar for best supporting actress!  - AW

Thanks to Practical Polyamory reader Renee for this tip.  Actress Mo'Nique, who is nominated to win an academy award Sunday evening for her role as an abusive mother in the oscar-nominated film Precious, has said in her segment of Barbara Walters' oscar special that she and her husband of 25 years, Sidney Hicks, have an open marriage. 

This is remarkable on two fronts.  First, it's remarkable that she has said this in such a visible media event - the few celebrities who have acknowledged their open relationships, most notably oscar winner Tilda Swinton and action hero Will Smith and actress wife Jada Pinkett Smith, have said as much, but not in anything close to such a high profile interview as this.  Second, and more important, is what she says in this quote from the MSNBC article reported on by Entertainment Tonight about her interview with Walters:

“What if [your husband has sex with another] 20 times?” [Walters] asked, to which Mo'Nique replies, "So what? We’ve been best friends for over 25 years, and we truly know who we are. Oftentimes, people get into marriages and they don’t know who they’re laying next to. I’m very comfortable and secure with my husband.”

And there you have it.  This relationship has lasted 25 years and appears to still be strong.  It's pretty clear that one of the reasons is that Mo'Nique and Sidney know and trust each other and are wise enough not to use marriage as an emotional and sexual prison.  Mo'Nique goes on to say that she herself hasn't engaged in affairs with anyone but her husband.  She is surely a strong woman who understands what I call The Secret of Polyamory, or so I like to think.  And still, advocates for traditional marriage continue to cling to and aggressively promote a paradigm that clearly doesn't bring long-term happiness to many people and, in fact, poses significant risks to a marriage's long-term prospects by attempting to cage human romantic love and sexuality.

We advocates for polyamory and open relationships have believed for quite a while now that there are surely many celebrities in such marriages who have not seen fit to make it public, but it would come as a considerable surprise if this turns out not to be the case.  Considering how much celebrities travel, how often they are separated from their spouses for fairly lengthy periods of time, how lonely that must be for them and how many other attractive people they interact with, open relationships would seem a logical choice, so long as the marriage/relationship in question is as strong and intentionally well defined as those of Swinton, the Smiths, and my new heroine, Mo'Nique.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Poly Presentation March 21, Washington Area Secular Humanists, Tyson's Corner, VA

I'm looking forward to talking polyamory with the Washington Area Secular Humanists on March 21, 2010 at from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Tyson's-Pimmitt Public Library. Hope you can join us! Here are the details of the program, which will especially focus on the ethics of polyamory and using rational thinking in evaluating polyamory as a personal path. - Anita


Topic: “Polyamory - America's Next Romantic Revolution?”

Description: Suppose we hear about a closeted gay man who, because of societal pressure to fit in and abide by tradition, marries a woman who is not aware he is gay. Most of us would say that this is sad because such people have few to no ethical alternatives to traditional marriage, depending on whether gay marriage is legal in their state.

Consider the case of Tiger Woods and his extra-marital affairs. Not as many of us would think this to be a sad case because he certainly has ethical alternatives. The obvious alternative would be to abide by the monogamous commitment he made when he and his wife, Elin, married. Less obvious but equally ethical, if both agreed to it, would be the practice of polyamory, also known to some as responsible non-monogamy. Some may and do argue against such arrangements as both irresponsible and unethical, but this is because they lack a compassionate and informed understanding of this alternative to traditional monogamy.

* What is polyamory?
* How does it work?
* What are the pitfalls?
* How do people deal with jealousy?
* What is compersion?
* What are the ethics of polyamory?
* What are the legal issues?
* What are the outcomes for children?
* What does science have to say about how monogamous or polyamorous we are as a species?
* What are the most common misunderstandings about polyamory?

Presenter Anita Wagner regularly speaks to groups where she answers these and other questions for the polyamory community. She is a highly-regarded community leader, organizer, advocate and media spokesperson and is the author of the very popular Practical Polyamory blog. Both her blog and website (practicalpolyamory dot com) are considered among the best internet resources available on the subject of polyamory.

WHERE: Tyson-Pimmit Library, 7584 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043

Directions: We will be in the meeting room of the Tysons-Pimmit library from 2 - 4 PM. It is 1.3 miles from the West Falls Church Metro on the Orange Line... so if you feel up to it, it is feasible to walk. There's also a bus. Driving directions and information on public transportation is available here. Parking is free.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Finding our Own Edge and Setting Personal Boundaries

This is by no means a full treatment of this subject, only a few thoughts to share. 

This past weekend I taught a new class on Compersion during which I said that when it comes to determining our own boundaries in the context of polyamorous relationships, most of us don't have a societal model to guide us.  So sometimes the only means of knowing how much of a kind of involvement or activity suits us and how much is too much is by intentionally pushing our boundaries past our comfort level.  That's not always a bad thing, and in this case it's pretty much a necessary thing. 

To take this boundary-setting concept a step further, there are plenty of polyamorous people (who to me are also spiritual warriors) who hold the philosophy that pushing our own boundaries is part of the experience, the adventure, and the fun of living a polyamorous life.  Many of us, especially when fairly new to polyamory, do just that as we reach beyond our societally programmed beliefs and assumptions around freedom (or lack thereof) of sexual relationship choice.

What prompted me to make this post is the following Hunter S. Thompson quote, which came to me via anthropologist Kate Frank, and which captures well what I am saying:

"The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over." Hunter S Thompson 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Calling all Polyamorous Spokespeople, Activists, Community Leaders, and Out & Proud Polys!

Ever more news reports, articles, and television shows are highlighting poly families, and a surprisingly large number of them are showing us very favorably!

Ever wondered how those people got chosen when, perhaps, your family would have been perfect?

Ever been interviewed yourself and watched or read it later and thought, "Hey, that's not what I said/meant!"?

Ever seen Terisa Greenan or Jenny Block on television and wished you could sound and look that polished, that you could get your message across that clearly?

Introducing the Polyamory Media Association! We’re a volunteer project of the Polyamory Leadership Network, collaborating with Loving More. Our goal is to bridge the gulf between the media and the polyamorous community.

We offer media training to help you polish your own message and develop those skills necessary for navigating the waters of the media and entertainment industry.

We will not tell you what to say. You create your own message; we'll teach you how to say it. Our training is good for radio, television, and print interviews, for public speaking, for letter-writing, and for other proactive polyactivism.

Plus, we offer our free services as media screeners. We can help you vet reporters and shows so you can avoid problematic ones, negotiate with the rest on a more even basis, and make sure you're treated fairly. But the final decision is left up to you -- we will not filter or make decisions for you.

The Polyamory Media Association will also seek out the media to help them find you if you wish. By bringing together the polyamorous community and the media, we hope to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties -- when they share common goals.

So sign up today and take advantage of the training materials and experience collected by those trailblazing polyamorists before you! Shortly after you sign up (completely free, and all information will remain confidential), you'll be given access to the Members portion of the website with all the benefits we have to offer.

We look forward to seeing you at the Polyamory Media Association!

For more information contact Joreth InnKeeper, Director, PMA