Thursday, December 13, 2012

Polyamory - It's Not Just for Baby Boomers Anymore

In his most recent entry at Polyamory in the News, Alan quotes a college student: "Every time I turn around, I feel like more of my peers are entering open relationships." A 30-something family member of mine said the very same to me just a few days ago.  Then Alan gives us a rundown of the latest poly news from college campuses.  He also includes the following quote and comment:
"This is my poly dream: that every college student in America will know the word polyamory and what it means within five years." So declared Diana Adams at a Loving More conference 4¼ years ago. Since then, more progress has happened in this direction than I expected. As the poly universe grows, its average age is certainly trending down.
I, too, witnessed Diana's passionate declaration that day.  Are we approaching our cultural tipping point, or is it maybe not too far down the road?  Time will tell.  It's very exciting to think about that, it's what I've been committed to helping facilitate for a long time now, remarking from time to time that the completion of the societal legitimization of alternatives to traditional monogamy lies in the hands of younger generations.  It's exciting to see that TNGers continue to find their voices and to be able to be a witness to that myself.  More and more they are taking their power in hand and, in so doing, making a difference for all of us. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Week on Savage Love: Dan Gives Poly People the Last Word on Poly as Orientation

How lovely to see that Dan Savage was as good as his word when he remarked a week or so ago in the Slog Blog that he would be giving polyamorists a chance to have their say regarding a statement he made to Polyamorous PolyMath ("PP") (scroll down to the second letter), saying that polyamory is something you do and not who you are.  The question of whether polyamorous counts as a sexual orientation added to the ensuing confusion mele', but orientation indeed it is, though a relationship orientation.  It really doesn't fit as a sexual orientation, unless you count liking to have sex with more than one person at a time.  In that case, "That's not for me", said no one, ever.  (Thanks Jimmy Fallon!)

After his brief intro, Dan published five excellent letters from people who described themselves, their poly families and their poly lives so that it is quite clear that polyamory for many people is lightyears more than merely something that we do.  I think that makes Dan a classy guy.  As he notes, he walked into this one unawares and accidentally kicked the hornet's nest.  Dang those poly people can be a feisty bunch. 

The following is my posted comment: 
"What moving words in all of those letters. And pride. Those are excellent examples of the complexity that is identity to polyamorous people, and its further complicated for people who are LGBTQ *and* polyamorous and questioning it all. I know many polyamorists who cross multiple community lines, including sexual activities like BDSM and swinging, and spiritual practices like body modification, paganism, tantra, and liberal mainstream churches like the Unitarian Universalists and the UCC. It's a great joy to be free to find out who we are in that way, and to have that freedom to live a life that is authentic to who we are. But I know you know that. Thanks, Dan..." 
To catch up with how this whole thing started and ended up getting focus at Savage Love in three successive weekly columns, check my preceeding blog posts first here, here and here

Some of Dan's readers are getting impatient with the discussion, but it is very important to correct an impression Dan erroneously made (with no malice) that spread far and wide very quickly since Savage Love is a syndicated sex advice column.   Giving an audience that false information and it coming from someone as knowledgable and respected as Dan has the potential for biased perceptions of what polyamory is, who polyamorists are, and how we love. 

On a vaguely related note, here's a quick little gem of an interview with Dan in which he gives great advice about how to be a good sex partner and the challenges of monogamy to MTV Voices interviewer (and well known sex educator) Francisco Ramirez (seen with Dan below - sorry you have to jump to the interview but the embed link MTV is providing is broken). 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What We Do or Who We Are? Round 2 with Dan Savage

Dan Savage has included more thoughts in today's Slog Blog about the controversy he started last week in advising someone seeking his advice that polyamory is something people do and is not who they are as an identity.  He is still having a hard time grasping what many are saying.  I have written an in-depth response because the questions he asks, which seem simple to him, are anything but simple.  In comments I wrote the following.

.... Dan, I think a key component of understanding this question is the context in which died-in-the-wool (if you will) polyamorists live out their poly lives while to at least some degree swimming against the larger mainstream cultural tide.  You know, of course, what that's like.  Trusting in ourselves and our own sense of who we are and what is right for us, without shame or apology, becomes an essential component in withstanding the blow-back we get from people whose esteem we care about and whose tolerance, if not acceptance, we value.  That sense of identity becomes the bedrock upon which we can build a life that will withstand the external cultural challenges we sometimes encounter.  As I am fond of saying, polyamory ain't for sissies.  These challenges take the form of drama and rejection by one's family of origin, the loss of friends who don't approve, loss of a job because the boss starts to question our judgment, or loss of child custody due to false assumptions by family court judges. 

As you point out and as Chris Ryan and Cacilda Jetha well demonstrate in Sex at Dawn, humans are naturally non-monogamous - of course!  But over the centuries religious authorities' literal crusade to force people to conform to monogamy became a very effective barrier to patterns of relationship openness and non-monogamies of all kinds.  Still today, living a life of integrity as a polyamorist requires a significant amount of swimming against the tide, and that's putting it mildly.  

So with that perspective in mind, you asked:

" poly something anyone can do ...?"

Yes.  Or at least, the majority can if they want it, but not quite everyone.  In my experience, those who want it enough and who are committed to doing the work necessary to live comfortably outside the societal relationship box and make the transition from monogamy to polyamory absolutely can do it.  The exceptions are those who have significant self-esteem and/or abandonment issues.  Likewise as to those who lack self-awareness, live in denial, and don't own their own feelings.  It's also essential that we learn good communication skills.  Mental illnesses, anxiety disorders, depression, malignant narcissism, and oppositional personality disorders are generally prohibitive.  Otherwise, anyone who is reasonably well adjusted, open to new experiences and personal growth, and those who are committed to the process can do it, whether by simple choice or as an aspect of identity. 

Monogamy creates for many a desired sense of security.  Becoming good at polyamory almost always requires giving that up in order to stretch, grow and challenge internalized cultural messaging.  Failing to do this as to what is and is not ethically and morally acceptable is not an option if we are to reach a safe and secure comfort level with sharing with others our loved one's heart, time and attention.  A fair number of people find that the transition is more difficult than they imagined and tend to be those for whom a poly life is a choice.  They don't have that sense of identity that others find the need to fulfill.  No problem!  

"... or is it something some people are." 

Yes.  Or at least it is for many of us.  You've heard from quite a few people who feel a strong sense that this is exactly who they are.  It seems that like so many debates about complicated, emotionally charged subjects, the answers are not found in the black or the white but are instead found in the gray area.  Some of us are doing it because we like it but could live without it in order to gain something else of value.  Others can't imagine being any other way and make sure to choose partners who share their perspective. 

Thanks for discussing this and for considering all the feedback.   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dan Savage Responds to the Poly-As-Identity/Orientation Controversy

With regard to last week's post about Dan Savage's advice to a polyamorous person trying to cope with a monogamous partner's pressure to be monogamous, it seems that he's been hearing quite a lot from people with all sorts of perspectives.  He references this today in a blog post:
"I said 'no' in last week's Savage Love, kicking off a shitstorm in the comments thread, in my e-mail inbox, and here and there on the interwebs. (Even the right-wing nutjobs have taken notice.) At least one poly person agrees with me:
There are a few problems with describing polyamory as a sexual orientation. The first of which is that polyamory is not sexual. Polyamory is about relationships, honesty, and intimacy. Look back at the definitions given by Loving More. Not a single one mentions sex. Calling polyamory a sexual orientation is a joke.
Secondly, polyamory is not an orientation. Polyamory is not a physical desire or a feeling. While there is not complete agreement on what polyamory is, there is clear agreement about it isn’t. And it isn’t just an attraction to multiple people. As Shaun pointed out, if you define polyamory as a feeling or an inclination, then half of the country is polyamorous, which is an absurd result. Almost everyone feels attraction for multiple people at the same time. This does not make them polyamorous.
A third problem with describing poly as a sexual orientation is that being poly is nothing like being GLB. Being GLB is about the type of person to whom you are sexually attracted. Being polyamorous is about the amount of people you love. Describing polyamory as a sexual orientation suggests a false equivalence between the groups, and seems like an attempt to coopt the sympathy that the GLBT community has built up.
I'm hearing from lots of poly folks who disagree. I'm going to let them have their say in next week's Savage Love."
Dan provides a link to my and another post on this issue.  I left a comment that I hope comes across as both thoughtful and respectful.   And it's very col that he's going to let people have their say in next week's Savage Love.  Stay tuned for Round 2. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sierra Black on HuffPo With Advice on Taking More Than One Honey Home for a Visit

An excellent blog post has just been written by Sierra Black, a polyamory writer and activist in the midwest, with great advice on how to handle taking more than one partner home for a holiday celebration. 

Sierra has landed herself a blog on Huffington Post's Women's pages, and this subject is not being shyed away from.  .

So have a look, you never know when these skills will be required by your own poly life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Week on Savage Love: Dan Rejects Polyamorous as Identity

I have to admit I'm disappointed in Dan Savage today after reading his response to Polyamorous Polymath ("PP") in his latest column.  

Dan does not identify as polyamorous (he and hubby being "monogamish").  Instead of addressing PP's concerns, Dan quickly steps all over PP's idea that polyamory is his identity and not just a lifestyle.  Dan tells PP that polyamory is about what people do and not who they are.  In fact, he's vehement about that, and about polyamory not being a sexual orientation, which seems to be his supporting argument against polyamory as sexual identity.  (Protect your turf much, Dan?)

PP is a man who finds himself in a difficult poly/mono relationship trying to figure out how to give up polyamory in order to meet the ultimatum of his monogamous girlfriend.  PP loves her and doesn't want to have to give her up.  PP's dilemma is that he clearly believes that polyamory is a big piece of his identity, and agreeing to foresake all others feels like giving up who he is. 

PP has a tough choice to make.  Dan tries to make it sound like it's an easy one, a lifestyle choice, but he's wrong.  Many therapists would agree that giving up who we are to make someone happy is not a very healthy relationship strategy.  At some point it sounds a lot like codependence

Over the last 15 years I've met many, many polyamorous people for whom being polyamorous is to them about a lot more than what (or whom!) they do. They say emphatically that it's about who they are.  Many tried to live by mainstream society's monogamy rules because they thought they had to, but it chafed - a lot.  Many always felt like they were different and like they were the only ones who saw relationships differently.  We still have people come into our community who are delighted and relieved to have discovered they weren't alone after all. 

Is polyamory a sexual orientation?  Some will insist that it is not as to the traditional meaning of it.  Yet many polyamorists express themselves differently sexually, i.e. with more than one person at a time.  If not sexual orientation, then sexual relationship orientation or sexual relationship identity - that's how I refer to it, and I've done so for some years now. 

I expect that this point will be made much more frequently in the future as research under way now gives us more scientific insight into such questions. In the meantime, I hope Dan catches up soon because his advice basically says to PP that his identity isn't valid.  I have to wonder how Dan would feel if someone told him his identity isn't valid. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ABA Journal: Are Laws Barring Polygamy Destined to Fall? Law Prof Defends Marriage of Two

And so it begins.  Legal same sex marriage is at its tipping point, and that means it won't be long before multi-partner marriage will be debated more seriously in the US than ever before.  Heres the link to an American Bar Association Journal article pointed out to me by Matthew C. Berntsen, Esq.

Are Laws Barring Polygamy Destined to Fall? Law Prof Defends Marriage of Two

John Witte Jr., is director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, and author of a forthcoming title, “Why Two in One Flesh: The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy.”   The ABA Journal article discusses a piece Mr. Witte authored entitled "Why Monogamy is Natural"  (how many times have we heard that one???) and published by the Washington Post last month in it's Guest Voices blog for "Other Views on Faith and Its Impact on the News."  It seems to me to demonstrate Witte to be a fundamentalist Christian first and a law professor second.  He relies only on information that is the standard party line according to the likes of the The Institute for American Values, the primary home of leaders of the (traditional) marriage movement.  Perhaps we should ship him a copy of Sex at Dawn.  And a couple dozen for him to share. 

My comment on the ABA article is WAY down the list at #126, in which I say:
Mr. Witte needs to do his homework. There are significant numbers of people today who practice egalitarian polyamory. They are not fundamentalist Mormons, and their relationships have nothing to do with religion. Community standards are very much based on equality for all those involved. Many polyamorists have long-term love relationships that last decades. Those whose families live in households of more than two adults find that there is more abundance of everything - more income, more love and support, more hands to care for sick partners and children.
So when the time comes and the question of multi-partner marriage is addressed by the law in the U.S., there will be a great many people standing up and pointing out that if it is decided purely on the question of issues that are irrelevant to the non-religious, egalitarian polyamorous population, a great injustice will be done by denying the fundamental human right of family to those who love and commit to more than one adult, and in so doing, harm no one.
For the record, the Canadian case referenced in another comment included an intervenor non-profit group given status by the Court, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.

Man Man Beaver (No, not THAT kind of beaver!)

Man Man Beaver is a new web-based animated series described as follows: 
"Following California's legalization of gay marriage and, logically then [because the slippery slope argument really is logical as to rights of consenting adult human beings, and we poly people are fine with that], every conceivable sexual pairing and so called perversion, a 'couple' comprised of two gay men and man-sized, talking beaver relocate into the state to finally live openly and take on idiocy and narrow-minded buffoonery each week...all while surviving the unique challenges of their married life. An animated satire series."
Check it out and let me know what you think in comments below - enjoy! 

Episode 1: "I'm With The Black Guy" from Man Man Beaver on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 has shared: The #1 Reason Why Men and Women Over 50 Cheat (It’s Not What You Think!)

Whew! The over 50 crowd's comments are brutal. It is very apparent from the comments that the idea that monogamy isn't natural scares people very badly indeed. It's a good article, though, and features a 28 minutes TED talk about why we cheat by ahropologist Helen Fisher Ph.D.- she's worth it.

So what do you think of this article?  It also references Esther Perel's work - Matingin Captivity - in which she is quoted as saying that people in a long term relationship should deal with the urge to cheat by being creative in the bedroom, in essence making your long-time lover your "new" lover. 

What do you think about this idea? 
The #1 Reason Why Men and Women Over 50 Cheat (It's Not What You Think!)
Your LifeAccording to Dr. Helen Fisher, the biological anthropologist, there is an ancient human tendency to partner and re-partner, which she calls the "four year itch."  A long time ago, it was ... sent this using ShareThis. Please note that ShareThis does not verify the ownership of this email address.

Did Human Evolution Favor Monogamy or Polygamy?

This content was sent by Anita Wagner Illig using Format Dynamics' eco-friendly CleanPrint/Save. Enjoy!
Message: A very good article that pretty well declares that we humans are monogmmish, a term sex columnist Dan Savage coined to describe his relationship with his husband. This writer acknowledges the research and informed opinions of Christopher Ryan Ph.D. and Cacilda Jetha, Ph.D. in their book, Sex at Dawn, which he acknowledges have certainly received more than their share of controversy. People really do get upset when we talk honestly on this subject. Which is why I love seeing this kind of article because they help establish legitimacy for the polyamory world in other people's minds. Hey, a girl can dream, right?
Did Human Evolution Favor Monogamy or Polygamy?
Did Human Evolution Favor Monogamy or Polygamy?

Are Humans Monogamous or Polygamous?

Friday, November 2, 2012

See Me Bare It All Next Wednesday at Bare! in DC

If you like a good bawdy story or six, are in the metro DC area and feel like coming out and cheering me on, I'll be getting my naughty story cherry popped at "Bare! true stories of sex, desire, and romance," next Wednesday, November 7 at: 
Black Fox Lounge, 1723 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20009  202/483-1723
$8 door. ASL Interpretation available on request.

This month Jefferson and his cohort have chosen storytellers who will reveal the choices that have left us with terms of elation, regret or resignation:  Vijai Nathan, Kevin T Phillips, Anita Wagner Illig and two New Yorkers, Kambri Crews and Lisa Kirchner.  

Each month, Bare! brings together storytellers, comedians, sex educators and others to share true tales from their own experiences of sex, desire and romance. With stories as diverse as the people telling them, Bare! opens doors to bedrooms, back seats and dungeons to tell what your mama left out about the birds, bees and in-betweens.

Hosted by Jefferson (One Life Take Two, Spill!)

. . . and more! You’ve made choices, good or bad, or had them made for you. Put your name in the hat for a chance to bare all on the Bare! stage.

. . . and still more! Everyone is eligible to win a sex-toy raffle courtesy of The Garden.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Amy Shiner on Huffington Post: A "Deli" Approach to Polyamory

Huffington Post Gay Voices Blogger Amy Shiner tells a story there about being kinky and poly that I think will resonate for many living their lives similarly.  As I offered in comments, I've been working with kinky poly people as an educator for a while now, and I've observed what she describes fairly often. Today the practice of polyamory in kink circles seems to be all over the place, some of which does not much resemble polyamory to me, but far be it from me to tell anyone how they ought to identify.   
 What I do know is that humans are genetically programmed to pair bond - just not exclusively.  I am very much one who wants and needs such a relationship foundation in my life. This innate desire transcends polyamory and monogamy and speaks to the roots of who we are as human beings.  It's an evolutionary strategy so as to produce offspring and better guarantee the survival of humankind.  This doesn't take into account whether we are fertile, whether we want to have children, or even over-population.  It just is.  It seems clear to me that Amy is perhaps no different from many other people. 
Certainly not everyone wants this, but many do, if not most.  In order to find such a relationship partner, I recommend focusing on those who are emotionally available for engaging in deeply pair bonded, committed long-term love relationships.  Those already committed to someone may not be able to offer enough of the time and attention needed by many, so those who are also single-ish like Amy is right now may be a better choice. 
Those who are interested in finding out more about creating a kinky poly life may wish to check out my workshop handout entitled "Emotional Edge Play: Polyamory for BDSM/Leather/Fetish Folk" for more on this.

Polyamory Weekly Podcast and The Kinsey Institute

We polyamorists owe a big thank-you to Cunning Minx, who has produced hundreds of podcasts on the subject of polyamory.  Today we learn that these podcasts, which document an unprecedented breadth of subject matter related to polyamory, have been added to the Kenneth R. Haslam Collection on Polyamory at The Kinsey Institute.

Congratulations to Cunning Minx for her tireless work, and for making polyamory education and Polyamory Weekly podcasts fun! (This week's podcast, #340, is on the subject of how to fight fair.) 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is Polyamory an Alternative to Cheating? Not so says Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is a polyamorous sex educator in California whom I very much respect, and I read with great interest his recent blog entry provocatively entitled "Polyamory Is Not an Alternative to Cheating." 

My own path to polyamory, which I describe in my lengthy comment to the blog entry, resulted directly from seeking an alternative to cheating and traditional monogamy - I experienced cheating in about every way imaginable in my earlier adult life, and there came a point where I wanted nothing more to do with it.

Charlie's premise, which you will see, is that polyamory is an alternative to monogamy, and that the alternative to cheating is honesty, communication and abiding by our agreements.  I can't argue with that logic certainly, yet for me personally, discovering polyamory as a better alternative to cheating was a very compelling reason for me to embraced it.  So for me, polyamory is indeed an alternative to cheating.  Charlie's explains his thinking this way:
I think that what bothers me about the “poly isn’t cheating” message is that it seems to play into the “poly means you’re more evolved” meme that floats around in some self-satisfied circles. I know from personal experience that it takes a lot of practice to be open about your desires and to quickly and smoothly process the challenges that arise. And when there are multiple relationships, there are more plates to keep spinning, so it does require more grace and skill. But at the end of the day, we’re all people and any of us can be tempted to break our rules. So even if being successfully poly does mean that you have more practice at using your relationship tools, that doesn’t excuse becoming smug about it any more than being a skilled dancer gives you permission to think that you’re a better person than a newbie.
Now I absolutely cannot argue with the fact that the poly-as-more-evolved meme has a lot of problems, largely that it tends to alienate people who choose monogamy.  More importantly, it tends to alienate people we should be raising awareness with so they understand that what we do is ethical and maybe even not what they think at all.  But alienating them makes that job a lot more difficult.  I actually cringed when I heard one of the cast members of the Showtime series Polyamory: Married and Dating say this very thing.  From an advocacy perspective it does we polyamorists no good at all, and it's ethically wrong in that it is a great example of the sort of thing that marginalizes others within communities and societies everywhere. 

What I like most about Charlie's blog post is that he is speaking as a respected leader about the importance of following standards of conduct that though difficult to follow in some instances, nevertheless assure those who follow them of having a lot more love and happiness in their relationships and a lot less pain and suffering over the long run than those who don't follow them.

So kudos to Charlie!  It would be wonderful to hear and see more polyamory advocates and community leaders follow his example.  Doing so may cause some to feel uncomfortable because they know they need to do better by themselves and their partners than they do.  There are certainly plenty of them out there who need to up their game from an ethical perspective.  If they squirm a little knowing they don't meet the standards leaders recommend, that's OK with me.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Still Interested in Kamala Devi's Journey Beyond Monogamy?

If you missed yesterday's revolutionary call on love and liberation, here's the link to listen to it now free of charge.   It will only be available for the next week.  

If you live in southern California or will be in the area next week, Kamala is hosting a no-strings-attached open house on Oct. 23rd at 6:45 p.m. at the beautiful, sensual space and home she shares with her loves that you may have seen on Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating.  Experience her most powerful teachings on love and liberation!   

Pre-register here for the entire live Journey Beyond Monogamy course teleclass.  Note that the $100 discount for this course ends tonight, October 18 at midnight.Kamala Devi phone coaching  

You may wish to mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

October 25th, San Diego Poly Potluck with guest speaker and Sex at Dawn co-author Christopher Ryan, Ph.D.

October 27th, Evolve Your Sexuality, with Kamala Devi and bestselling Sex at Dawn co-author Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney's Binders Full of Women: All My Wives

might be the internet's biggest takeaway from last night's Obama Romney debate.  (Mitt's language skills certainly leave something to be desired!)  So naturally someone connected a couple of dots and came up with a Mitt binder labeled "All My Wives," Mitt being Mormon and all, not that he actually has more than one wife.  That we know of. 

Still, I prefer Polygamy Porter's long-time marketing approach.
"Why Have Just One! Bring Some Home to the Wives!"
(That's Joseph Smith there in the beard.)

But back to those binders full of women. 
For sheer laughs, I enjoyed these especially.  Thanks, MSN!   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Free Love and Liberation Teleconference Tomorrow!

The more I get to know sex and relationships coach Kamala Devi of Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating, the more impressed I am with her approach to open relationships and the expertise and philosophy she has to share.  So I recommend without reservation her free Love and Liberation Teleconference which takes place less than 24 hours from now tomorrow, October 17, 2012 at 12PM PDT.  More than 250 people have signed up.  She's also going to give those who sign up a recording of the teleconference to share with loved ones and review again themselves. 

Participating in the free teleconference does not obligate you further.  However, you can find out more about the entire Beyond Monogamy series Kamala is offering and what it can do for your poly life - at an impressively affordable price, I must say - and sign up for the free telecon here

I think you will find that it's worth your time.  This is an opportunity for more in-depth learning about how to create happy poly relationships than you get from 90 minute in-person workshops.  Kamala is quite a resource. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Come Out and Celebrate EVERYONE'S Freedom to Love!

Happy National Coming Out Day, Y'all! 

Thirty years have passed since I first became aware of my attraction to women as well as men, though I didn't come out as bisexual until much later when I came out as poly in the mid 1990s.   Since then, as an educator and activist I've made many LGBT friends who feed my spirit and enrich my life.  Some are mentors, some are colleagues, and some are good friends.  Though there is still some remaining ground to cover as regards LGBT rights, the movement has  come a long way, something everyone, GLBTs and allies, including polyamorists, can  celebrate today.   

As someone who finds value in stepping back and observing the bigger picture, I feel grateful for the work LGBT activists have done over the years to make this day possible.  I know, whether intended or not, that it can't help but facilitate better acceptance of families of choice in whatever form they take, including open romantic sexual relationships between more than two of whatever gender and orientation. 

But let's also remember what today is also about - coming out and being out.  Many of us are able to be out as polyamorous because much of the wider culture has learned that not everyone wants, needs or desires the same thing when it comes to love, sex and relationships.  There has never been a better time to come out as polyamorous!  It is important not to hide your love away behind irrational fears of retribution.  On the other hand, if you know absolutely that the risk of losing a job you can't easily replace or parental rights, take caution.  No one has the right to ask you to take potentially damaging risks of that magnitude.  Even if it isn't good timing for coming out just now, it's a worthy goal to which to work toward when the time is right. 

I was delighted to arrive at work today to find this message in my email in box. I am proud and grateful to work for an employer that takes such matters seriously and values social justice and inclusiveness. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Black Rose XXV and Monogamy in the Scene

I had the pleasure of having dinner this past weekend with the fabulous Mollena Williams, she of the clever catch phrase "It ain't just the hair that's kinky."  We were both educators at Black Rose XXV, a very well attended BDSM educational and play event here in Washington, DC.  And she is quite the leather celebrity, having served as International Ms Leather 2010.  People practically bow when she walks by.  She is funny and approachable. 

Mollena has been a BDSM educator for many years who now includes a class on being monogamous in the scene in her offerings.  I met her when she was speaking on this at The Floating World a couple of years ago and was shocked and dismayed at her reports of being marginalized and treated disrespectfully because she chooses to be monogamous and is not ready to jump into a group situation just because someone else wants to a taste of her lusciousness.  (And she IS luscious, make no mistake.)  Since that time I have been talking about that issue when I speak on polyamory and open relating at kink events, because it doesn't matter the setting or the situation, the last groups who should be discriminating against people within their own community are sexual minorities.  We all have to stick together!

Black Rose is the local BDSM membership organization in DC, and after a haitus of a few years, their fabulous team of organizers once against gave a high quality event with great educational programs and a lot of fun events in addition to their awesome dungeon space.  When I arrived on site someone greeted me almost immediately, guided me to my classroom, and made sure I had everything I needed for my class that was due to start soon.  Same thing the next day with my second class.  Now that's something I wish all event organizers would take a clue from.  It makes a huge difference when there is an extra pair of hands around, class starts in ten minutes, the projector isn't as simple to work as expected, and I still have to go pee.  So THANK YOU BLACK ROSE (specifically Alex McGeorge and Danielle) for making things easy for me.  I am proud to be a resource for open relating educational programs for this highly-respected organization. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating

I am a fan of quite a few adult-themed Showtime series like Californication, Dexter, Weeds, Shameless, House of Lies, etc.  When about ten days before its premiere Showtime, which had been entirely silent until that point, finally ran the following teaser about its polyamory documentary reality series, Polyamory: Married and Dating, I just happened to be watching. 

I jumped up and cried "Wow, it's Showtime!" I immediately ran to my computer and checked the Showtime website for more info, and there was nothing there.  But it didn't take long for that to change.  I was more excited about it than any other media event that has ever taken place. 

We polyamory advocates have known for a long time that a poly reality series was being pitched in Hollywood but that the networks were skittish about offending viewers and sponsors.  As time passed and media interest in polyamory grew and grew and grew, Showtime finally decided to go with it.  Thanks to the marvelous cast and courageous producer Natalia Garcia, Showtime came up with a real winner that has done more to raise awareness and start conversations about polyamory than anything that has gone before it.
A lot was riding on this show.  Cast and crew held a fair amount of the fate of the polyamory movement.    There were a couple of statements putting down monogamy that we actavists could have done without, but it wasn't was due to malice or a lack of awareness of the sensitive nature of such statements.

Many congrats and thanks to Michael, Kamala, Jen, Tahl, Anthony, Vanessa and Lindsey for having the courage to show their lives to people who may well have never known there was another option for intimate relationships! 

Alan of the Polyamory in the Media blog reports a recent conversation with Natalia Garcia about the series's future and learned that Garcia is actively seeking poly families to appear in a second season of this show.  Please do contact her if you are interested, and contact me so we can help you put your best food forward on behalf of the polyamory movement when your turn comes. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Responsible Spokespersonship and Open Marriage on (Shudder) Dr. Phil

Alan over at the Polyamory in the News blog has put up a post that has attracted a lot of attention and comment about yesterday's piece on open marriage on the Dr. Phil Show. 

Kenya and Carl are a couple who have been speaking out on their form of responsible nonmonogamy for some time now.  They were courageous to agree to go up against Dr. Phil, just as was author Jenny Block when she went up against Bill O'Reilly and into a few other similarly hostile situations.

It's a very personal decision to accept such invitations, yet by accepting them we spokespeople also take on a significant amount of responsibility to others like ourselves.  For several years Dr. Phil's producers repeatedly asked we poly community spokespeople to provide people to appear on the show, and we consistently declined.  Especially since the Newt Gingrich supposed request for an open marriage story broke a few weeks ago, we spokespeople have been delighted at the fair treatment we've been given by members of the media, but we are under no illusions about the likelihood of being treated with respect by Dr. Phil.  Evenso, it's the viewers in his audience who have open minds we would be trying to reach.  Based on what we know about Dr. Phil's interview style, there was and still remains plenty of reason for concern that not enough of our message would make it into the final cut to outweigh all the ways in which we would be made to look bad.

Alan, usually the poster guy for the mild-mannered, had what is for him an uncharacteristically strong but evenso understandable reaction to Carl's statements that appeared to justify dispensing with practicing safer sex, and I share Alan's frustration.  We spokespeople can't afford the luxury of making highly controversial statements on subjects such as STI prevention, especially on national television, and give the impression that we - and by implication, those like us - are being irresponsible.  I've seen one or two other leaders do this sort of thing under the notion that they must speak their truth no matter what.  In my personal opinion, such defiance ignores the potential for harm that comes along with it and pretty much disqualifies us as effective leaders and spokespeople.  I'm not saying I think this is absolutely true in Carl's case, not if he learns from the experience. 

As spokespeople, honesty is important to doing an effective job, but avoiding needlessly creating negative impressions is even more important considering the responsibility we take on when we speak to large audiences. Isn't the point that we want our words to clear up misunderstandings and have a positive impact? Why would we choose to make statements that would undermine that goal? It's terribly counterproductive to let this happen when in fact what we have to share is a message of just how ethical and healthy responsible nonmonogamy can actually be. We do neither ourselves nor our communities any service by playing into the hands of our critics.  Our words can have far-reaching consequences and affect the lives of thousands of people we don't even know. This responsibility MUST be taken seriously if we are to make the world a better, safer place for healthy families that don't fit the traditional model. 

I already know that I share many of Kenya and Carl's values, and I am grateful for their courage and especially for their lending a voice to this subject from the perspective of people of color. I applaud their commitment to self-determination and the example they set for others to create the family life and responsible relationships that best meet their needs. 

Author Pamela Haag refers in her recent book "Marriage Confidential," to those of us living a consenting and openly nonmonogamous life as renegade couples blazing a trail for others to follow. This is no more true for anyone than it is for we spokespeople who stick out our necks into the line of fire to raise awareness and counter misconceptions. We are all learning as we go, and we are all in this together.  I'm pretty sure many polyamory spokespeople, including myself, would be happy to collaborate with Carl and Kenya in this regard and learn from each others' experiences.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Polyamory on the 11:00 News on DC ABC affiliate WJLA

My husband, Tim, and I had the privilege of being interviewed about our polyamorous open marriage recently, and it was shown on Washington, D.C.'s ABC news affiliate WJLA on the 11PM news on Thursday, February 9, 2012.  Also included are local polyamorists Sarah Taub, Michael Rios, and Jonica Hunter, none of whom are married to each other and who live together in what polyamorists refer to as  "V" relationship.  Their contribution was highly valuable in that together we were all able to give a couple of different yet common examples of how people arrange their nonmonogamous romantic lives. 

A fairly brief article entitled Polyamorous Relationships: Managing Multiple Romantic Partners that is not a transcript of the video to go with it is also available, as well as a slideshow entitled The Faces of Polyamory of all of us who were in the video, including a few wedding and honeymoon pictures of Tim and me. 

The story about Newt Gingrich's supposed desire for an open marriage broke about a month ago, and since then there has been a frenzy of media interest in we polyamorists that has not yet ended.  In fact, as ironic as it is, Newt's ex, Marianne Gingrich's contention that Newt asked her for an open marriage so he could continue to have a relationship with his mistress, Calista (now his wife) is responsible for we advocates finding ourselves with an opportunity to raise awareness unlike anything we could otherwise achieve on our own.

Yes, polyamory and open marriage are in the mainstream center stage spotlight, and there are a lot of us, including those involved with the Polyamory Media Association and Loving More Nonprofit, who are scrambling to meet all the requests.  If you have an interest in being interviewed either by a newspaper or appearing on a TV show, or any other sort of media event, please visit the PMA and educate yourself about best practices so as to be ready to shine on behalf of all who practice responsible non-monogamy.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Still Here - Hiatus Over!

So where have I been since October?  If you've been wondering about that, I do appreciate your patience. I know when it comes to blogging, consistency is important, and I will do my best to return to that. It's just that there have been so many wonderful things going on in my life. I got married! (Nonmonogamously, of course.) We got engaged in early October and set the date for December 17, 2011, so as you can imagine, there was SO much to do! Here are my dear husband and partner of six years, Tim, and me on our happy day. We were married in Baltimore at beautiful Chase Court.

There have also been so many great things happening in the world of polyamory advocacy that I could probably (and likely will) write a book about it all. 

I will do my best to update you in detail soon, but in the meantime, if you want to know what I'm reading, what's going on in my relationship life, and what's going on in terms of my polyamory advocacy and education life, check me out on Facebook.

Happy Valentine's Day!

So a polyamorous friend sent me the following taken from her lovely poly life:

"You know you’re doing something unusual but very very well (albeit with maybe a bit too much technology) when you wake up with your mate, ease into your day together, and exchange iPads to share with each other the overnight love notes from your respective other partners."

Indeed!  Hope everyone has as great a Valentine's Day as my friend.