Polycamp Northwest: "Heather Has Two Mommies, One Daddy, and Several Matriarchal Women in the Community Who She Thinks of as Moms"
For six of the last seven years, Polycamp Northwest has been held on a summer weekend in Washington state. This year's camp starts in three weeks. Dan Savage has just written an article about the Polycamp community for the weekly alternative newspaper in Seattle that he edits.
Notice the article's title. Savage surely chose it himself. It harks to anthropological findings that humans evolved to live and love communally during almost all of the last million years or so before the invention of agriculture, a mere 10,000 years ago, threw us into unnatural societies for which we literally are not born and bred. The case for this view is presented, with overwhelming force, in the new book Sex at Dawn. Savage loves the book. So do I. More on this later.
Heather Has Two Mommies, One Daddy, and Several Matriarchal Women in the Community Who She Thinks of as Moms
Polycamp — the Summer Camp for Kids Growing Up in Poly Families — Is All Grown Up Now
By Dan Savage
"When I was little, my mother had a talk with me about having a 'public face,' because not everyone would understand our family," says Koe Sozuteki, a 20-year-old woman who grew up in a large poly household in Seattle. "That was a hard conversation to have in elementary school."
Sozuteki has a bio mom, a bio dad, a stepmom, three other poly moms, "several other matriarchal women in the community who I think of as moms," and an uncle. She also has a brother and half a dozen poly siblings — children she grew up with but is not related to by blood.
Sozuteki was teased in school about her family, she says, and she didn't get much support from teachers.
"Back in the mid-'90s," she says, "people just didn't know how to approach it."
..."People in poly relationships — particularly if they have kids — fear judgment and rejection," says Quintus, an electrician who lives in Kitsap County with his wife and two daughters. "They fear being rejected by their friends, by their families. It's why so many poly families are still closeted."
Quintus and his wife Francisca, who have been poly for a dozen years, are the new heads of Polycamp, an annual summer retreat for local poly families. Polycamp began as a one-day picnic in Redmond and now takes place over four days at Millersylvania State Park outside Olympia.
Sozuteki attended her first Polycamp when she was 13. "We got to run around," she says, "a passel of kids and teenagers, with a sense of freedom because we could be open as poly kids. It was great."
While families with children were Polycamp's original focus, Quintus and Francisca explain that Polycamp now strives to appeal to all poly people — "poly people with kids, poly people who can't stand kids, and people who are single but identify as poly."
...What Polycamp may not have now, however, is a clear-eyed mission. "We try to appeal to all the different niches in the community," Quintus tells me. "There's a lot of overlap: There's the kink community, the sci-fi community, the nature/granola/hippie community, the pagan community. We want to be a resource for everyone."...
Quintus and Francisca's daughters are about the same age that Koe Sozuteki was when she first started to attend Polycamp — and they face some of the same pressures that Sozuteki did.
"At school, they keep it private," says Quintus. "We've told them it's their choice whether they talk to their friends about it. They may receive some judgment or be teased, so it's their choice. We're involved in the poly community, so they have peers that they can talk to. They know there are other families like theirs."...
"Children want to love and be loved," says Quintus. "Children grasp the concept easily. As they've gotten older, we've explained that ours is not the traditional form that most relationships take. We're not ashamed of our lifestyle. We're open with family and friends. But they had a right to know that their family is unique."
Sozuteki says she's happy and that she's grateful to have been "born into a tribe of intimate friends."...
Polycamp 2010 takes place August 26–29 at Millersylvania State Park. For more information, go to www.polycamp.org.
Read the whole article.