Poly and Loving More on local TV news
Last Friday afternoon as people arrived at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Philadelphia for the Poly Living conference, they encountered a camera crew from the local ABC TV affiliate packing up to leave. Channel 6 News had wanted to film people at the conference for a segment about couples in open marriages. Instead, Loving More director Robyn Trask arranged with them to film volunteers in a controlled setting before the conference began.
The segment aired last night at 11. I wasn't thrilled. The announcers began and ended with the kind of self-protective statements you sometimes see on these things, to the effect that "this may be shocking for normal people, but these oddballs say it works for them." First up were the black authors Carl and Kenya Stevens, a husband-and-wife team, who got out brief snips of their story:
Carl: ..."Right now, I only have one girlfriend—"
Kenya: "And I have one boyfriend."
Announcer: "Yes, a proudly monogamous couple for more than a decade, Carl and Kenya opened their marriage three years ago, still in love with each other, but dating, even falling in love with other people, too. Jealousy? They say it's not an issue."
Kenya: "I am excited if my mate is having pleasure or joy or ecstasy outside the relationship."
Announcer: "The Exton native and his wife don't suggest their lifestyle is for everyone, but they say it's definitely for them, though it may seem odd. The Stevens say there are no secrets between them. Their open relationship is an honest one. And they think monogamous couples can follow their lead when it comes to communication."
Then the scene cuts to the hotel lobby with many Poly Living attendees happily embracing and greeting, sometimes in multiples.
Announcer: "This past weekend, Philadelphia played host to the 6th annual Loving More Convention, organized by Robyn Trask, who used to own a wedding chapel, and now calls herself poly-amorous.
Trask: "I want people to know there's a choice. Monogamy is great for a lot of people, but for some people it's not."
Announcer: "To be clear, they say this is not 'swinging.' It's not about sex, they insist, but about love, and allowing themselves to experience as much of it as possible."
And that was it for Loving More and poly philosophy. Next up was the standard clueless therapist, saying "I actually think they are all destined to fail, one way or another. I don't think that's realistic at all."
My take: superficial, defensive, over in a blink. How did the show manage to be so cursory for four whole minutes?
However, a few crucial images got out during those blinks: a happy, articulate, successful open couple; the Loving More crowd embracing and delighting in one another; Robyn delivering one key line. So, better than nothing and coulda been worse. A few viewers will flash on those images and realize that there's something important for them going on here.
Watch the video and read the transcript (Feb. 7, 2011).
P.S.: This segment followed a sad news report about a woman murdered downtown allegedly by her jealous former boyfriend, and a sad report on former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and his wife splitting up with a mention of longtime rumors about his affairs. I'm sure the irony escaped the newscasters.