Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



December 19, 2011

National Geographic films a poly triad

National Geographic Channel: "Taboo"



Last April the Australian film company Beyond Productions went nosing around the poly internet world seeking a polyfamily to film for the National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" series.

Warnings about this offer spread faster than the offer itself. "Taboo" shows creepy and/or attention-getting anthropological practices, from live-octopus eating to Santeria animal sacrifices to bloody scarification rituals in Benin to a man who lives with life-sized dolls and considers himself married to them. The promo: "What is Taboo to you? Watch videos of seemingly shocking and bizarre practices from around the world."

No wonder the film crew had trouble finding anyone — despite their protestations that "we have no intention of fuelling [anti-poly] prejudice rather we want to investigate polyamory from a cultural perspective." Whatever that meant.

But a triad household volunteered, and it looks like the result turned out better than the rest of us might have hoped.


Meet a polyamorous triad — a family with two men and one woman sharing a loving relationship.


The full episode is scheduled for January 10th [not the 9th as originally posted here]. Apparently it will be the last of three topics on a 1-hour show. Today a three-minute preview, cut from the longer piece, went up on the National Geographic Channel's website. Although the narrator fakes being shocked at times, it comes off altogether positive and informative.

Thanks guys, you were brave (or foolhardy and lucky). If you read this, can you fill us in on how the filming went? Anyone else know the backstory?

UPDATE: Dany from the triad writes in; see comment #3 below. So does Dawn, a girlfriend from the scene around the table.

If the video link above doesn't work, here's the URL (Dec. 19, 2011.)

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Joyce said...

Oooh! That's me at 1:20 coming in the door to hug Lon!

I sent the triad a link to this post, if they haven't seen it already. They'll be seeing it shortly. :)

December 20, 2011 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the full episode. Anyone have a torrent link?

December 20, 2011 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Dany said...

Well, this is Dany. Thanks to Joyce for letting us know the clip is up. This was filmed last June. Last we heard from NatGeo, it was due out in March. This is the first we've seen it. According NatGeo site, the premiere will be Jan. 9th.

It was a long and complicated negotiation as to whether or not to participate. We knew it was risky and worried about repercussions both personally for our community. We received a lot of assurances from NatGeo that they would be respectful. We watched back episodes of the show and they mostly seemed to take the "look these people are different and might that might frighten you, but they are okay" approach. It was a family decision to go forward with it. Our teen-age son was particular interested in helping outsiders understand how wonderful he considers his family. The film crew was great even if they pushed too far sometimes. This opening makes me cringe, because it's the kind of sleazy approach I hate and doesn't represent us. I am still hoping the rest of the piece makes up for it.

December 20, 2011 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like some of the words NatGeo used, like adultery and infidelity. Fidelity means faithful, I can be faithful to my husband and still date and sleep with other people.

December 20, 2011 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Jordan Lee said...

I've never heard of compersion. I guess that's a name for what I've been describing. I wouldn't exactly like the numbering of people, but if they don't mind, I don't see a problem of them doing it.

December 20, 2011 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Well... not as bad as it might have been, I suppose (yes, that's me, IDed as Dany's "best friend" and "ex-GF." :^D) I hope the rest turns out ok. *crossing fingers* on behalf of self, kids, friends, and family.... Thanks for the link!

December 21, 2011 7:03 PM  
Blogger Skeeter Sanders said...

This clip strongly suggests -- although the narrator does not say it outright -- that Long and Troy are bisexual, especially since it shows Long and Troy kissing each other and all three partners embracing each other.

Which brings up a subject that isn't talked about very much in polyamory circles: That for many in the poly community, polyamory and bisexuality go together like salt and pepper. Yet it's a lot harder for men to be open about both their bisexuality and polyamory than it is for women. Why is that?

December 21, 2011 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Skeeter: Yes, Lon and Troy are bisexual; that's no secret. During the filming they asked all of us how we identified in terms of sexual preference. I don't think any of us IDed as exclusively het. *LOL* It will be interesting to see if any of that make the actual film.

As to why it's more difficult for men to be open about being bi: There's more prejudice against male-male relationships. This shows up in the way that same sex female relationships are accorded a wink and a nod in most het-oriented porn films, whereas male-male sexuality is deemphasized or relegated to "niche markets."

And I disagree that men have a harder time being open about being poly. They have a harder time being *believed* that it's about the relationships, though. Most men will get a "thumbs up" from other men when they say they have two (or more) GFs, and they'll be called "players," "Don Juans" or other generally positive if slightly salacious terms. It'll just be assumed that the other women don't KNOW about each other. For women, on the other hand, being open about their *sexuality* is where the stigma is. More than one platonic relationship? Might be ok. More than one sexual relationship? A woman will be called a "tramp," "hussy" or worse.

December 22, 2011 4:06 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

> I disagree that men have a harder time being
> open about being poly.... A woman will be
> called a "tramp," "hussy" or worse.

Speaking as a guy, I see it the other way. In the feminist-friendly alt-culture circles where poly is most common, a poly guy has to justify that he's NOT a scummy Don Juan who ought to be shunned -- while poly women tend to be seen as powerful females who take charge of their own sexuality.

My theory is this explains why most poly activists, writers, spokespeople, movers and shakers are women, while poly guys tend to stay more in the background.

December 23, 2011 11:05 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

P.S., for example, I just checked the 10 actual polyamory guidebooks that have come out since 2008 (they're most of the list at the bottom of http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2011/12/girl-who-normalized-non-monogamy.html), and the authors or co-authors are 10 women and 2 men.

December 23, 2011 11:18 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

UPDATE: The NatGeo show will be on January 10th, not the 9th.

December 27, 2011 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you guys for opening yourselves up. I think there may be an advantage to being on a program that typically features stuff that's way beyond the bounds of American cultural normalcy. Your arrangement will probably seem like a much more possible option to many viewers compared to what they normally see on that show. Keep us posted as to the reactions you get.

December 31, 2011 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Alan, I think our disagreement on the gender stuff here is possibly the difference between "in the alt culture" vs. "in the culture at large." Yes, there are more women "movers and shakers" in the alt culture where poly is most common. However, the social cost OUTSIDE of that somewhat protected sphere can be very high indeed. Opening up about myself has been a challenging journey for me, as someone coming from a conservative xtian background, for instance. It hasn't been "easier" in any way that matters to ME. ;^/ (I'll allow that my feelings on the matter may be more about my own sample bias, as well!)

Certainly I've seen the phenomenon you mention--my almost-ex, Akien, had to spend a lot of time working on his rep as a "scummy Don Juan," and when we appeared together (on Tyra, for instance), it was crucial that we women were strongly, visibly, and audibly in support. The one moment that faltered the cameras zoomed in and caught the disapproving look, and used that to imply discord amongst us (since they hadn't managed it otherwise).

January 10, 2012 1:08 AM  

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