Poly Priders get stories into two New York dailies
When she saw the New York Times on her laptop early Saturday morning, Diana Adams let out shrieks and did a happy dance around her apartment (a sight to behold). There on the front of the Fashion/Style section was a big color photo of her, her sweetie Ed, and two of their significant others. She read the article rapidly aloud for those of us staying at her place for Poly Pride Weekend (see previous post), as we stirred up breakfast in the kitchen.
A lot of the article turned out to be good. But she was disappointed to discover that the reporter took seriously her throwaway joke about toothbrush jealousy and implied, later, that jealousy is a significant problem for her and her circle. Nor was the usual ignorant comment from a clueless "expert" a thrill. Read on:
Hopelessly Devoted to You, You and You
By ALEX WILLIAMS
LIKE many considerate boyfriends, Ed Vessel, a cognitive neuroscientist who lives in Brooklyn, bought a toothbrush for his steady girlfriend Diana Adams to keep at his apartment when she sleeps over. While Ms. Adams, a Cornell-educated lawyer, considered this touching, she was less pleased when she noticed the toothbrush that Mr. Vessel had bought for his other steady girlfriend when she slept over.
That Mr. Vessel had a second girlfriend was not the issue. All parties here are committed to polyamory, which for them means maintaining multiple steady relationships, with the knowledge and consent of all involved. The problem was that the other woman’s toothbrush was “a really fancy one that says ‘Primo’ on it, and mine is a junky one that says ‘Duane Reade,’ ” said Ms. Adams, 29. For about a month, she was a little miffed every single time she brushed her teeth.
The two eventually talked — polyamory involves a lot of talking — and they now laugh about it. “I just decided that this was an example of a jealousy that is not warranted,” Ms. Adams said.
...[A] small but vocal collection of adherents — many borrowing the language of inclusion used in the gay rights movement — argues that polyamory can be a workable, responsible way to live.... This weekend, a group called Polyamorous NYC, with more than 2,000 members, planned to have a three-day Poly Pride Weekend, featuring a picnic and rally in Central Park.
All this does not mean that polyamory has risen above underground status. Edward O. Laumann, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago and a prominent sex researcher, said many sex studies don’t treat the practice as a category of its own.
Dr. Laumann said polyamorists are probably “just talking like that because they haven’t found somebody special.”
But whether it is a movement, or just something a few a couples do, there is little debate that polyamory holds a certain risqué interest for those who would never practice it, and that it can make one’s life very complicated.
Just ask Mr. Vessel and Ms. Adams, who will be attending this weekend’s festival (she serves as the vice president for Polyamorous NYC). As young professionals trying to juggle busy careers with multiple steady romantic partners, their lives provide a window into the freedoms and complications of polyamory....
...[E]ven when partners get things straight between themselves, they still must find a palatable way to present their lifestyle to friends and family.... Mr. Vessel said his parents are growing accustomed to the idea, although they had a hard time understanding why, on a recent trip home, he held one girlfriend’s hand while talking about another 1,600 miles away.
And last week, Ms. Adams invited her mother to a rooftop barbecue, where she was introduced to her daughter’s circle of partners. “I had to say, ‘You know how I’m bisexual,’ ” Ms. Adams said. “ ‘Well guess what, I have a girlfriend. In fact, I have two.’ ”
She added: “My mom’s reaction was, ‘If these are people that you love, they’re family to me.’ ”
Read the whole article (dated October 3, 2008 as currently posted), with photo.
A discussion of the article is underway on the LiveJournal Polyamory Community. One poster there comments, "The flip, hip style of the article (so what else is new?) puts my back up."
Regardless, we decided while driving to the rally that the article does convey, to a large and sophisticated audience, the important part: that polyamory can work, and that people are doing it happily.
In my opinion, however, the reporter did fail to notice the real story. Poly, at least for these particular people, is not just about having consensual affairs but about a radical, paradigm-breaking way of life that just plain transforms everything.
That same morning the New York Post also printed an article on poly. It defined the concept clearly and not only mentioned the Poly Pride rally but gave the time, place, and website.
That's (Poly) Amory!
By BRIAN NIEMIETZ
SEE you later, honey I'm going to a singles mixer. Oh, don't worry, it's polyamorous.
Most of us would be wise to duck after trying that line. Not so with Polyamorous NY president Birgitte Philippides, whose organization is hosting a Poly Pride Weekend highlighted by a rally and picnic today at Central Park's Great Hill.
Poly wanna . . . what?
"Polyamory is the practice of having more than one open relationship," says Philippides. She has been a practicing polyamorist for just over 5 years; her girlfriend's boyfriend is in the Army and lives in Atlanta with his wife. Obviously.
"We're in the 21st century," she explains, "and models of relationships are still locked into very old value systems. They're really not working for everyone."
"This is not a sex event," Philippides insists. "It's about exploring alternative relationships."
Although she also makes it clear that hooking up with a polyamorist doesn't necessarily enroll participants in a long-term commitment, Philippides warns would-be cuckolds what the weekend's festivities are about: "Consensual and responsible nonmonogamy. Lying and cheating is not polyamory . . . it's lying and cheating."
...What's the difference between polyamory and "Big Love" style polygamy, you ask? Female empowerment, supposedly....
See the whole article, with photo (October 4, 2008).
Even better, the Post also put up a wonderful video report on the Friday night Cuddle Party.
Incidentally, these articles and other mentions and listings in several smaller papers (Time Out, the New York Press, and the Village Voice) didn't just happen. They stemmed from Polyamorous NYC's vigorous and professional efforts to drum up pre-event publicity.
The weekend's festivities were also being taped for a French documentary on polyamory. And Poly NYC had its own videographer on hand; wait fer it on YouTube.
Update: Here's an excellent long article on Poly Pride and its attendees in Chelsea Now, a New York neighborhood's weekly newspaper.
Nice report at Digital Journal.