New sex- and poly-positive mag sets off media flap in Australia, and other Oz news
In The Age of Melbourne:
Archer takes aim: The bold new magazine targeting sex and gender in Australia
Amy Middleton, editor of Archer magazine. (Anu Kumar/Fairfax Media photo)
By Annabel Ross
Sex addiction. Polyamory. Aboriginal and gay. Gender and sex-drive.
These were but a few of the headlines to appear on the front cover of Archer's second issue, but it wasn't the racy subject matter that caused a couple of newsagents stocking the magazine to complain to the editor.
Rather, says Amy Middleton, they were concerned about the cover image, depicting a couple of young men, one shirtless, in an affectionate pose.
"But they were 18," she says. "18-year-old men have sex."
Archer bills itself as "Australia's first journal of sexual diversity." Middleton launched the bi-annual publication in November 2013, with the help of a Pozible campaign that raised $20,000.
She had been working in the fast and furious world of digital publishing for a decade when she decided to buck the online trend and publish her own glossy print magazine. "I thought I'd like to edit a luxe, high-quality, Mag Nation-style publication about sex and gender," she says.
"When I realised that it didn't exist, I decided I was going to do it myself.... The manifesto is that sex is weird for all of us, so we should just all talk about it together."
Here's the whole article (Dec. 14, 2014). It's also in The Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, and elsewhere.
And here is Archer's poly article mentioned in the lead: The Joy of Polyamory. It's by Anne Hunter, a longtime activist and a founder of the poly movement in Australia. Excerpts:
The joy of polyamory
By Anne Hunter
...In the beginning, [my husband and I] didn’t have a term for what we were doing — all I knew was that I didn’t want to be monogamous. I wasn’t interested in the forms of non-monogamy I already knew of. I didn’t want to swing: I wasn’t into sex for its own sake. I had no interest in clandestine affairs: I wanted to be honest and open about my intimate liaisons....
So, we made it up as we went along. It was hard work at first. Along with the glorious freedom from traditional monogamy, there was a commensurate effort to sort out what form we wanted our relationships to take. Our perceived notions of ‘how relationships work’ were inadequate for multiple relationships. We grappled with questions such as “What do you need to know before I start something with someone else?” and “What if a new relationship becomes more important to me than my other ones?”
Where were the other people like us? We kept falling in love with people who were fundamentally monogamous, or who only hooked up with us while they were between ‘serious’ relationships, and then dumped us. A lot of people tried out non-monogamy with us and found it wasn’t for them. All of these situations caused us heartache.
When we finally heard the term ‘polyamory’, we knew we’d found our thing. Fundamentally, polyamory is a claim that the heart is capable of loving more than one person deeply and intimately at the same time. In polyamory, everyone is free to choose multiple lovers, partners and intimates if they wish. Poly relationships are often sexual but may not be, and they may shift in and out of being romantic and sexual.
For me, one of the strongest reasons for being polyamorous is freedom; in particular, the freedom to ask myself deeply and honestly, “What do I want?”. For example, I have discovered that I love kissing. I love the sensation and the intimacy. I love the freedom to kiss heaps of luscious people, where everyone is clear that a kiss is just a kiss. Also, I choose to live alone despite having several deep, committed relationships, because I need my own space. These are two needs that wouldn’t have been considered normal or acceptable in my old monogamous circles.
As I peeled off the expectations of the mainstream, I came to realise that there are several kinds of connections we can experience.... [And] such connections can be experienced with different levels of involvement.... With polyamory, you can negotiate the forms and levels of connection you want to explore in each relationship.
For example, I know people who have kids together, are happily co-habiting, are financially blended and have a good friendship, but who look to have their sexual, emotional and romantic needs met outside of that relationship.
One happy household I know comprises a married couple, the husband’s same-sex partner, and the wife’s other de facto husband who is monogamous to her. All but one have other lovers and partners outside of that household.
I have one life-partner who lives with another partner in another town, but who stays with me about a third of the time; a same-sex intimate who lives nearby; a ‘platonic boyfriend’ (his term) with whom I can hang out and share practical and emotional support; two interstate intimates; and some friends-with-occasional-benefits. I am on snogging terms with a large number of people. I also have heaps of lovely, long-term intimates within cycling distance.
Many of my relationships don’t have a simple label available to them. For example, I have some beloved intimates with whom I will jump into bed, naked, and talk about absolutely anything. The relationship is way past what most people think of as a friend — there’s no sex, so it’s not a lover; we don’t make life decisions together, so it’s not a partner. There is no term that accurately describes our connection.
...In reality, within the constraints of consent, honesty and intimacy, polyamory seems to be infinitely plastic in form....
You also don’t have to break off an existing relationship to start a new one. So much unresolved pain experienced in monogamy is generated by this ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach. With polyamory, you can allow relationships to change and morph over time. I’m on friendly terms with someone who was my partner for eight years. I’ve had relationships that were exciting sexual and romantic connections in the beginning, which are no longer sexual, but are now deep loving friendships....
Alongside all its benefits, there are plenty of challenges to polyamory, too. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain several intimate relationships. There is no well-worn societal groove to slip into, and little support for insecurities. I’ve been confronted with many uncomfortable truths about myself and have had to be willing to undergo a lot of personal development. I’m grateful for these challenges, but those 3.00 a.m. deep-and-meaningful conversations can be wearing at times.
My partner had a major issue with jealousy in our early years, which nearly split us up — this is a common stumbling block for poly people. Fortunately, we both had the necessary communication skills to navigate the difficult parts of our path; without those, it would have been even harder.
One of the biggest problems faced by poly people is a lack of understanding and support from the community at large.... If a monogamous relationship breaks up, people never consider monogamy to be ‘the problem’, or take it as proof that monogamy doesn’t work. But they do with polyamory.
...A very common myth is that loving a second person must diminish the love available to the first person.... My lived experience tells me something different: the more honest, vulnerable and deep I am with one person, the more love I experience and have available for others....
Read the whole article (Oct. 27, 2014; June 2014 print issue; issue #2).
While we're at it, here are some other recent items from Australia.
● A radio interview with Anne Hunter and a female poly minister:
Tal, Rachel and Joy interview Anne from PolyVic and Rev. Diane, a minister with MCC who is a polyamorist. They seek to find the answer to questions about polyamory such as what is it and what structure does it take.
Listen here (42 minutes; posted Oct. 19, 2014).
● At the online magazine The Big Smoke, "a platform Australia-wide for voicing a broad range of varied, topical and interesting opinions": Polyamory is not a dirty word by Belinda Marsh (Dec. 27, 2013).
...While this threw Angie initially, when Ray got a message from Liz, his wife, saying she had arrived at her lover’s house, she finally understood. She still found this confronting, but it was also liberating. Hearing that two adults could have an honest and open relationship with such a high level of communication was astounding to her....
● And a sweet new blog from Hobart, Tasmania, which the writer calls the hippie town at the bottom of the bottom of the world. She started The Triad Next Door three months ago. From the intro post:
Our triad consists of one female (me, Emma), and two males (Ashley and Aidan). I am dating Ash and Aidan simultaneously, while the boys have a sort of sibling relationship with each other. Between the three of us we have a lot of different interests, but the main thing we all love is games (video games, board games, card games… you get the idea). I suppose you could call us geeks, which is okay with us!
Despite being the female of the group, I’m sure the boys would agree with me when I say I am the one who wears the pants. Of course, that doesn’t mean I get my way all the time. Just most of the time. I’m a 21 year old university student majoring in painting, and as such I love everything creative.
...A lot of people ask us what our relationship is like, and really the answer is we are your typical dysfunctional family. We do things that normal couples do, only as a three. We go to the movies, bicker over who’s turn it is to take out the garbage, come together in the evenings to share a meal, and of course look after and support one another....