Showing posts with label polyamorist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polyamorist. Show all posts

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

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.

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!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Poly Advice for Newbies on Polyamory Weekly Podcast

I recently posted a review here of the awesome time I had at Polycamp NW in August. While I was there, I got an invitation from Cunning Minx to sit down and record some of what I contributed to the discussion in a workshop she had done earlier in the afternoon. It was a thoroughly gorgeous day, bright, warm sunshine and the glories of the Pacific Northwest all around us. We found a picnic table under a tree away from the crowd and had a very easy and natural conversation, which you can listen to here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 23 is Sexual Freedom Day!

Tomorrow is Sexual Freedom Day, established as such by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, September 23 being its namesake Victoria Woodhull's birthday. I thought I'd take a minute and let you know that I will be attending and participating in tomorrow's activities as a recognized member of the polyamory leadership community. I did this last year as well. Woodhull is based here in DC and does excellent work on behalf of all of us. In case you aren't familiar with them, their mission is, in part: "... to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, working towards a world that fulfills the words of the United States Supreme Court that
“…our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. In explaining the respect the Constitution demands for the autonomy of the person in making these choices, we (the court) stated as follows:

‘These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992) quoted in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)"

Pretty awesome, huh? Woodhull Executive Director Ricci Levy (right) is a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network and very well connected to the polyamory community. As such, all of we polyamorists have a connection with Woodhull, so it seems doubly appropriate to call your attention to tomorrow's festivities.

Another poly leader also participating in tomorrow's Sexual Freedom Day activities is New York City poly community organizer and attorney Diana Adams, Esq., (left) who will be one of six panelists to speak tomorrow afternoon to the topic "Sexual Outlaws: The Prohibition of Pleasure." Tomorrow evening I am attending a VIP reception hosted by Woodhull board members sex educator Nina Hartley (yes, THAT Nina Hartley, below left) and author Carol Queen (below right) of San Francisco's Center for Sex and Culture. After that there will be dinner and the presenting of the "Vicki" Sexual Freedom Awards to three deserving individuals whose work has substantially furthered the cause of sexual freedom. It promises to be a great day.

In 2010 Woodhull published the 163 page report, "State of Sexual Freedom in the United States" to which Deborah Anapol contributed and which is definitely worth the read. You can download the pdf of it for a (small if necessary) donation here .
Lest anyone wonder whether there will actually be any examples of sexual freedom associated with this event, a local friend is having a play party this weekend at which Nina Hartley will be a special guest, and all the proceeds go to support Woodhull. Nina is a friend and an awesome sex educator these days, and it will be fun to see her in, um, action, doing something that she does best - raising awareness of the importance of the mission of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance.

I know times are tough and budgets are tight for a lot of people, but every donation, even a small one that you wish could be larger, will be greatly appreciated and put to good use on behalf of sexual freedom for everyone. Please think about supporting The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance with whatever treasure you have to share. You can do this here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FetFest Poly Village

I am delighted to be hosting the Poly Village at the first ever FetFest. This event is shaping up to be amazingly unique. Every village has it's own activities planned, plus there will be many, many event-wide activities. Fell free to click on the blue ad to the left here to register, easy breezy.

The poly village theme is Free Love 2.0, i.e. Free Love all grown up where we know better how to make it work while holding on to the spirit of non-judgmental love and sexuality freely shared.


Free Love 2.0 party - We'll kick off the poly village activities Friday night with a Free Love 2.0 party/open house, so get out your hippie gear (there will be groovy prizes for the most authentically dressed hippies), bring a bottle of Boones Farm, share some munchies and feel the love. We'll be playing Hendrix, Joplin, Crosby Stills Nash, Led Zeppelin. There will be black lights and posters, and with your the participation it will be the Summer of Love all over again.


Workshop: The Green Eyed Monster - Lolita Wolf will present a workshop on dealing with jealousy tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning from 10AM to 11:30AM. (See program to verify time and for location.)

Workshop: Emotional Edge Play, Polyamory for BDSM/Leather/Fetish Folk Yours truly will present a workshop that will give you what you need to know to create or enhance your kinky Free Love 2.0 experience, tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon from 2:30PM to 4PM. (See program to verify time and for location.)

Animal House Toga Party FOOD FIGHT! The Poly Village will sponsor this not-to-be missed and essential element of any Animal House Toga Party. Sploshers welcome!


The Free Love Guru is in! Bummed out because somebody harshed your Free Love buzz? The Free Love Guru (um, that would be me, Anita) says "Lay it on me!” Sunday between 2PM and 4PM and get some sound poly advice. (Also known as “Office Hours”)


Poly Cocktails - We tend to gather for BYOB cocktails (though some have been known to mix up batches of fun stuff to share) about 5PM each day and sit in a big circle chatting, drinking, having a hell of a good time. We've done this at other events and it's great fun with a lot of camaraderie.

Poly Community Kitchen - Why buy the food plan when you can join the village denizens for a delicious, moderately priced meal prepared by our own excellent cooks? And where better to fulfill your two hour work commitment (if you don't buy it out) than by making a contribution to community meals by assisting with meal prep and cleanup? Dinners will be served Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Bring your own breakfast and lunch (though there might be leftover dinner food for lunch, not guaranteed.) Or buy breakfast and lunch elsewhere onsite.

Lucky Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Club - We are fortunate to have poly village denizens and veteran amateur strip club operators Tasty Tina and Pagan Paul, with the able assistance of Joester23 running the ever popular Lucky Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Club, which is sponsored by the Poly Village. The Club will be open every night - be sure to bring some $$$ for the dancers, all contributions will go to NCSF.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poly Lyrics in Contemporary Hip-Hop/Rap

Looks like the most powerful artists in hip-hop today are including poly concepts in their writing.  I'm speaking of Kanye West's & Jay-Z's No Church In The Wild featuring Frank Ocean (From the album Watch The Throne 2011) 

The following is the second verse of the first track on the new album  The song is called "No Church in the Wild" and was written by Kanye West:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission’
And deception is the only felony
So never f-ck nobody wit’out tellin’ me

Sunglasses and Advil
Last night was mad real
Sun comin’ up, 5 a.m.
I wonder if they got cabs still

Thinkin’ ’bout the girl in all-leopard
Who was rubbin’ the wood like Kiki Shepard
Two tattoos, one read “No Apologies”
The other said “Love is cursed by monogamy”

That’s somethin’ that the pastor don’t preach
That’s somethin’ that a teacher can’t teach

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CARAS Con Addresses Polyamory Community Needs

Yesterday was a great day.  I had the privilege of mixing and mingling with about 50 people, a great mixture of academics, students, researchers and community advocates, who gathered together in Washington, DC, to learn about and discuss issues and methods around meeting the therapeutic and informational needs of alternative sexuality communities, including polyamorists, at the 5th annual conference of the Community-Academic Research Consortium for Alternative Sexualities.

The day started with a plenary address by author and sex therapist Gloria Brame who spoke about many things, including the need to correct misunderstandings about what constitutes sex addiction and the continuing effects of sex negativity in the United States.  Gloria is a well known and highly respected champion of the BDSM community, and after our having become friends on Facebook, it was delightful to finally have an opportunity to meet her in person.  I am very much looking forward to reading her new book, The Truth About Sex, A Sex Primer for the 21st Century Volume I: Sex and the Self.

Some of the poly-related programs included the presentation of research results around polyamory and bisexuality, and about polyamory in the context of personal freedom.  I facilitated a discussion at lunch time about what alt sex communities need from researchers.  There were many good suggestions, including emphasis by three attendees who were college students who spoke about the lack of options to gather with other non-monogamous and/or kinky people on their campuses.  NCSF's Judy Guerin spoke on behalf of that organization, and we both encouraged others to establish their own groups but to also reach out to those of us who can advise them along the way.

Programming continued in the afternoon with great choices for an advocate like myself - I had no problem deciding what to take in, there was always at least one session I wanted to attend. 

Networking opportunities abound at this conference.  I connected with people I hadn't seen in many years who had traveled to Washington to attend the conference.  It was great to have the opportunity to see and meet CARAS board members who live elsewhere.  I was delighted to see the awesome Catherine Gross, and to finally meet Kink-Aware Professionals founder Race Bannon. 

It is CARAS's tradition to present a case study as it's closing plenary, and my partner, who is a recovering sex addict, and I were the case, with a focus on healing sex addiction/compulsion and sexual sobriety in a polyamorous context.  We told our story of closing and then rebuilding our relationship after my partner revealed his addiction to me about nine months ago, our journey in therapy both together and separately, and how it was necessary to find our own path to wholeness again since the traditional prescription for sex addicts/compulsives and their partners doesn't work for us, at least not for me as a sex-positive advocate.  A local employed psychiatrist (whose name I can't use for fear of career repercussions for him) answered questions from the audience from a clinical perspective.

We were told that it is highly unusual to have a case presented where more than one partner participates.  That my partner and I were both there to tell our story together is a credit to my partner, who has made serving others who struggle with sexual addiction/compulsion and serving those who help them a part of his own recovery journey.  Today we are doing well together, and I couldn't be prouder of him.

I'm hoping that the CARAS conference will be a longer one in the future.  This one day meeting was scheduled the day before the American Psychological Association conference that is now going on in Washington, D.C., and the polyamory and bisexuality program I reference above will be presented there as well.  I learned that this is the second year that polyamory appeared somewhere on the APA conference program, and that is a big development indeed.  For years we couldn't get any mainstream organization that serves the psychology community to touch the topic.  The times, they are a'changing, and CARAS gets a good sized piece of the credit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Calling All Therapists! CARAS Alternative Sexualities Conference August 3, 2011

I'm excited!  The Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities ("CARAS") is holding it's "4th Annual Alternative Sexualities Conference: Cultural Competencies, Clinical Issues, Research" here in DC on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 9AM to 6PM.  My partner and I will be presenting as a case our experiences and challenges with sexual addiction/compulsion in a polyamorous relationship context, and psychiatrist Dr. Gary Wynn will provide a clinical perspective, and facilitate the conversation.  Of course, the conference is about a lot more than that.

In my polyamory advocacy and educational work, I frequently encounter people who have had a bad experience when seeking therapy from a counselor who is not savvy about alternative relationships.  Some are so unaware as to be biased against nonmonogamy and are convinced that monogamy is the only healthy way.  Not so!   So if you are sick of having to bring a therapist up to speed in order to get the help you and yours need, please pass this information along to any therapist you know who could benefit by attending. 

For more details, click the flyer and read on.  Registration link and continuing education credits follow below. 



The registration form is here.

Lunch is provided .

California MFT and LCSW Relicensure:
Course meets the qualifications for 8 hours of continuing education credit
for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of
Behavioral Sciences. CARAS’s PCE # is 4789.

Psychologists: CARAS is approved by the American Psychological
Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.
CARAS maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The Conference Schedule and Instructor credentials, including
relevant professional degree and discipline, current professional
position, and expertise in program content will be provided on the
CARAS website or by email request by July 21, 2011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Polyamory Leadership Network

Over the last three years, the Polyamory Leadership Network has evolved into a very active entity, however loosely organized.  It includes people from around the world who make some kind of contribution toward raising awareness of polyamory and supporting those who live poly lives.  Basically its members make whatever contribution they wish to make without red tape approval processes.  There is no board of directors, because we poly people are an independent, ornery bunch, don'tchaknow, none of us being especially inclined to answer to authority.  :)

But seriously, check out the PLN website, and if you are someone who makes a contribution to the poly world or has a burning desire to do so, consider becoming a member.  PLN members collaborate via a very active google group.  We hold summits once or twice a year, so far mostly following Loving More's Poly Living conferences, where the picture above was taken in October 2010 following Poly Living in Seattle.  That's me in the second row, last person on the right, sitting next to the awesome Dossie Easton, she of The Ethical Slut co-authorship fame.  All I would need is Janet Hardy on my left to make my day.  Make that make my year.

Hope to see you at the next PLN summit, which is yet to be scheduled, and in the meantime, on the PLN Google group.   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maria's Pride and Arnold's Dog House

I posted this political cartoon to Facebook today, remarking "Would that the public drew a more realistic conclusion from this than this "trend" being due merely to powerful, wealthy men being immoral. (Not that they aren't, but there's more to the story, say Sex at Dawn authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha.)

A poly friend of mine remarked, "I don't see why they have to necessarily split over this.... Just acknowledge it and be open."

Of course that's what he and I would say and for good reason. But betrayal is still betrayal, especially when a long-time commitment has been betrayed in such a spectacular fashion.  Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child's mother reported directly to his wife, Maria, as a member of her personal household staff for 20 years. Having this long-time member of her household *and* her husband both betray her by hiding this huge secret for ten years may just be more than Maria can tolerate, at least right now. A cuckolded spouse almost always imagines that others, i.e. friends and maybe family members, knew about this situation and kept it from them as well.  I've had that feeling myself when I was cuckolded years ago, and it's a very miserable feeling indeed, very hard on one's pride. 

Even a lot of poly people are hard pressed to stick around if a partner betrays their trust in such a devastating way - not everyone is willing to deal with doing the long-term work it takes to restore trust and emotional order to the relationship. For some the betrayal destroys the love, which they don't want to recapture, at least not any time soon, all things considered. And Maria has the additional burden of public humiliation on a massive scale to cope with, plus four children she wants to protect from shame, pain and chaos. I think we have to give the lady some time, though surely she's being told by a lot of people that he's an irredeemable untrustworthy bastard. He may very well be so, but she needs to decide that for herself.

I feel compassion for the entire family and wish them love and peace of mind and heart.  Enlightenment as to other ways of arranging relationships that facilitate healing and unity is probably a bit too much to hope for in the short term for Schwarzenegger and Shriver, but one never knows as to the long term, especially when it comes to Hollywood marriages.  Still, betrayal isn't an especially healthy place from which to create a more functional framework.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Staying Out of our Heads

This is this week's "Living Compassion" tip from Nonviolent Communication author Marshall Rosenberg, something I signed up to get via email. It very much resonates for me and says:


For most of us, learning to communicate has meant staying as Rosenberg puts it, "up in our head" rather than in our heart. "Feelings are simply not important. We are trained to be 'other-directed' rather than be in contact with ourselves," says Dr. Rosenberg

We have more words for calling people names in our everyday vocabulary then we have for clearly expressing our emotional state. It's easier to call someone a name than to stop and connect with our own feelings and needs.

We are taught to approach a problem in an analytical way. Finding the "right way to think" will serve us better every time, we're told.

But what we really need for guiding our way and finding a solution that best serves all involved is to keep our head out of our heart. This means checking in with how we feel in the situation first and then using our head to develop strategies for dealing with the present challenge.

It's important to use both our ability to think AND to feel.

This is most excellent advice, even for me, and I'm very much a feelings kind of person. It's especially good for people contemplating polyamory. It's all too easy to plunge in based on a thoroughly rational assessment of the concept and in so doing being completely unprepared for the emotional aspects of taking this big step. So if you are working on some challenge related to an alternative relationship, please be sure to give your heart equal time and consider how you feel about it as much as what you think about it. Notice what words you use when discussing it. Do you begin sentences with "I feel ....." or with "I think ...."? It's a big tipoff as to whether you are presently speaking from your head or heart. By doing both, you are much more likely to find happiness.

Beltane is Almost Here!

So spring has finally arrived, and come Thursday I'll be heading to NE Maryland for that exceedingly adult rite of spring, Free Spirit Beltane. Registration has closed and it is sold out, and no wonder considering what a great job Turtlehill Events does at organizing this event. Every year there are new opportunities to explore sacred sexuality, along with learning practices and skills to utlize to heighten and enhance these experiences.

I suppose my workshops fall into the latter category. In other workshops attendees might learn how to experience physical pain as an ordeal and rite of passage, but my work is more about learning to manage, resolve or avoid pain of the relationship-related emotional kind. I'll be presenting three workshops:
This year's Beltane theme is Feast for the Senses, and one thing I'm really looking forward to is the first ever Sensual Feast described as, "Continuing this Beltane’s “Feast for the Senses,” we come to the celebration of Taste. You are invited to experience a sensuous garden of decadent delights as a divine banquet of sweet, savory, and spicy selections are laid before you, offering up seductive scents and heavenly flavors. Lights sparkle like stars and music murmurs erotic promises; all around you are smoky eyes and sly smiles. In this lush paradise, the only rule is that you must feed others and allow yourself to be fed. Whose fingers will your lips caress tonight? What aphrodisiacs will fan the flames of your desire? In the garden of sensual delights, the Divine Beloved nourishes us with Love and intoxicates us with Beauty."

Dinner will lead directly into the Fires of Venus ritual, described as "Tonight we begin a Sacred Love Spell.  A spell that will touch our lives, open our hearts, and change the way we move through the world."  And, of course, somewhere along the way we'll dance the maypole (phallic design complete with Prince Albert piercing) and add a fourth or so layer of interwoven ribbon that takes on layer and layer of energy and meaning with every passing Beltane celebration. 

I'll be staying with all my friends from Sandbox Explorations, and as usual, we have a community kitchen planned.  My job is to set up the coffee station and make sure we all have hot, immediately available, good quality coffee each morning. 

Now, if only the Gods and Goddesses will smile upon us and gift our senses with warmth and sunshine!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

MOMENTUM CON - Featuring New Media Roundtable – Tips and Tools for Social Change

Hi all - Here's info on the second of my panels at Momentum. In case you haven't heard, it's amazingly affordable to attend this event, well under $100 ($55 as I write this.)

New Media Roundtable – Tips and Tools for Social Change (will be presented on Saturday, April 2nd, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:10 p.m.)

New media provides a wide variety of optons for individuals and groups to create an online presence. Publishers can choose to blog, podcast, vidcast, or collaborate through wiki-based platforms. In addition, there are numerous resources for promoting your content. How do you choose which tools to get your message across and to build awareness about your cause?

This discussion is for those who have considered publishing new media content, or who want to use tools like Facebook or Twitter to build an audience and community, Hear from our panel of experienced educators and activists on how they used (or built upon) existing tools in order to engage their respective audiences.

New Media Roundtable is a panel discussion moderated by Cunning Minx aided and abetted by panelists Avory, Jenny Block, Jessica Karels and Anita Wagner.