Poly at a kink/LGBT clinicians' conference
In Chicago, a gay newspaper reports on the poly presence at a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Institutes conference:
Kink tank: Center hosts sexuality confab
May 27, 2009
A recent conference at the [LGBT community] Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, looked at provocative issues like leather, kink and polyamory. But rather than provide merely scintillating glimpses into our sexual lives, the event sought to present clinical therapists and the public with a range of analytic and practical tools with which to approach what are often termed “alternative” sexual practices.
The 2009 Alternative Sexualities Conference was a one-day national conference organized by the Center's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Institute (SOGI) and the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) based in San Francisco. In his welcoming speech, Conference Director Braden Barkey addressed a packed room at the Hoover-Leppen Theater and spoke about the need for such events, noting that while there were many broadly focused community events about alternative sexual practices, “there's nothing that addresses clinical issues.”
...Richard Sprott of CARAS, who gave the plenary speech, “Polyamory: The Question of Consensual Non-Monogamy,” said that clinicians had to unpack [their own] cultural assumptions and negative perceptions of the practice....
For therapists working with polyamorous clients, Sprott said, it was necessary to clearly understand that concepts like jealousy and intimacy are constantly discussed and negotiated within polyamorous relationships. He added that many people are puzzled by the idea that someone might form intimate and romantic-sexual relationships with more than one person....
Sprott went on to detail the different ways in which people negotiate their polyamorous relationships, and also discussed the thornier issues of childcare (polyamory can become a lightning rod in some child custody cases) and the “impact of prejudice, stigma, and heteronormativity” that can affect the well-being of people in polyamorous relationships. He also said it was important for therapists to make sure that no one in such cases was being coerced, however subtly, into arrangements they might not really want....
Read the whole article.
Sprott and other CARAS speakers have been giving presentations at other alt-sex and polyamory gatherings. At last winter's Poly Living Conference, Rob Bienvenu spoke about "Research on Poly and other Alternative Sexualities: Why it is important and how CARAS is working to promote more and better scholarly research." He asked for poly-community input to help sociologists and other researchers design their projects realistically and productively. And at Poly Living West in San Francisco this weekend, Richard Sprott is doing much the same. From his program description:
Many people who create polyamorous families and circles are often confronted with institutional difficulties and run into interpersonal difficulties due to ignorance, stigma and prejudice. Some of these difficulties arise because there is a lack of scientific facts available to the larger community and the public. To replace ignorance or misunderstanding, research is needed to discover and document the realities of polyamory. Community-based research is a model of doing science where professionals/academics/clinicians partner with community members to design appropriate research, to ensure community benefit, and to increase the quantity and quality of the body of knowledge. CARAS (Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities) is a model of community-based research. The presentation will introduce CARAS as an organization and discuss the strengths of doing community-based research.