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

January 16, 2019

Polydar: Do polyfolks show certain personality traits?

You know about gaydar: an alleged special ability to spot fellow gays. Although some gay people show their identity pretty clearly, some do so subtly enough that it takes good gaydar to get a hunch, and some don't at all.

People talk of polydar, and I can't say I have it. I sometimes get a hunch if a person seems especially outgoing, interested in other people, secure, brainy, and forthright, especially if they show other alternative interests. But lots of mono people are like that too, and I've given up trying to guess.

Do polyamorous people display certain characteristics often enough to be significant? Jasna of the Redefining Love blog did some online research so you don't have to, and she says maybe yes.

Are there personality traits that are more common among people in polyamorous relationships?

Rawpixel / Unsplash

Lately I’ve been crossing paths with quite a few polyamorous people as more and more friends have been coming out as poly and introducing me to their poly circles. I started to notice that most of [them] share a few personality traits. So I set off to learn the true reason for this — was it just coincidence? Or is there actually any research that would indicate a correlation?

What triggered my curiosity was a conversation with a friend after she came back from a date with a polyamorous person. She asked “Are all poly people that open??” I asked her to elaborate. She said that her date had no reservations about sharing personal life details with her — things she wouldn’t expect to hear from someone she had just met. I then realized that most poly people I’ve met tend to share quite a bit in the first few minutes of conversation. Including myself. I get so excited when I meet like-minded poly people that I often pour my heart out to them in the first half hour of conversation. ...

First of all, let me say this — there is not enough academic research on polyamory v. personality. Most of the data I found appeared in online discussions on Reddit and Quora, random PsychologyToday articles, and blog posts written by poly people sharing their personal experiences. There is one old study [actually 2017] focusing on consensual non-monogamy and its correlation to the Big 5 personality factors among LGBTQ individuals, which found that participants who were in open relationships scored higher on “openness to experience” and lower on “neuroticism” subscales than those in monogamous relationships (according to Elizabeth Retief). And that’s about it for academic research on this topic. ...

Anyways, based on the unofficial interviews of my own poly network, this and this Quora discussion, this subreddit [here's another reddit thread –Ed.], and a whole bunch of other random articles (1, 2, 3, and 4), the top traits that many polyamorous people share are:

Openness and honesty. In polyamory it is very important to be open and honest with ourselves and all our partners about how we are feeling. Openness to new experiences helps quite a bit too!

Flexibility and adaptability. When we have more than one person in our life that we care about, we have to learn to accept them and their needs to make space for them. The “making space” part may require some degree of flexibility.

Non-conformance to tradition. ...We tend to question the norms and not care as much about rules and traditions.

Empathy. Being empathetic to others’ needs is crucial in any relationship. With polyamory, since more people are involved, there are more needs and feelings to consider. Having said that, sense of worth and knowing our own boundaries are also very important, because it’s hard to sustain a relationship while consistently deprioritizing your own needs.

Patience. ...

You have to be an engineer. Just kidding. But according to this article there are significantly more engineers among people that self-identified as poly. I’ve also seen “geekiness” and creativity mentioned....

I feel like another common trait that has not come up in articles is the thirst for self-exploration and growth. I find that I can discuss spirituality and mindfulness with my poly friends more deeply than with my friends who prefer monogamy, for example. But maybe that’s a coincidence.

Read her whole article (January 8, 2019).

She ends with, "Have you seen any other personality traits that are especially important to polyamorous relationships that I haven’t covered?" If so, please go to her article and leave your observations there; I'm just giving it a boost.

P.S.: Word origin. Kamaladevi McClure says here (June 2012) that she believes she invented the word polydar in tweets on April 19, 2012. She certainly promoted its widespread use on and after that date, and she got it into the Urban Dictionary later that year. I find no use before then in Google or Google Books (aside from foreign languages, OCR scan errors, and typos for Polydor Records). However, a Twitter search shows two earlier appearances in tweets; the first is this in 2010. It seems like a word that many people could have come up with independently.


Labels: ,

January 8, 2019

Kick the poly shaming out the door

That Psychology Today roundup of 2018's top consensual non-monogamy research results included a finding by Heath Schechinger and colleagues that uneducated therapists often misunderstand and shame their poly clients, wasting their time and money at best and causing harm at worst.

As Schechinger put it, the participants in their study "repeatedly mentioned how harmful their therapists' lack of education about CNM and judgmental attitudes were. Over half of our participants indicated that their therapist held judgmental or pathologizing views of consensual non-monogamy, and one-fifth of our participants reported that their therapist lacked the basic knowledge of consensual non-monogamy issues necessary to be effective."

See more about the new organized professional response to this problem here, including Schechinger's petition to support relationship diversity issues in therapy.

But of course the problem is much wider. It's getting a little better every year, as polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy become more widely discussed and understood. But still....

● It's worse when you internalize it, even if you know better. So it was heartening to see this from Anna Pulley, sex advice columnist for the mainstream Chicago Tribune's arts & entertainment weekly RedEye.

Ask Anna: How do I get over my internalized polyamory shame?

Dear Anna,

I'm a poly, queer woman. Though my partners and I are happy, how do I get over internalized shame about being poly — that I’m “greedy” and “irresponsible”? —Anon.

Dear Anon.,

I’ve always found the idea of greediness in polyamory especially interesting, because it’s so counter-intuitive. For starters, poly people by definition know how to share. This is the opposite of, say, monogamy, which is based on ideas of possession, ownership and, in legal terms, a means to consolidate wealth by creating paternal heirs.

Imagine if we said having more than one friend was greedy? Imagine if we said single folks who date multiple people at a time (an extremely common practice) were greedy, or even serial monogamists....

We’ve internalized the message that anything that deviates from that norm is bad, weird, wrong and even immoral. You’ve got a double dose of “deviance” as a queer person and a poly person.

How do you let go of those harmful messages and beliefs? By telling yourself a better story, over and over, as many times as it takes. The narratives we tell ourselves impact our actions, our behaviors and our quality of life. Instead of saying, “I’m greedy,” you could instead say, “I have an abundance of love in my life.” ... Another strategy is to find a tribe of like-minded, poly individuals (whom you are not currently dating) to share with and vent to....

Read the whole column (December 3, 2018).

● This stuff can have larger societal effects not anticipated by any participant, says Anne Shark on Medium:

How Anti-Poly Advice Feeds Rape Culture

By Anne Shark

I haven’t told too many people I’m polyamorous. I’ve told a few friends ... and through the grapevine, most of our mutual friends and acquaintances have found out. They learned the info in a way that was comfortable for all involved: for them, they didn’t have to provide a polite or supportive reaction to the news that might have challenged their own values, and for me, I didn’t have to offer an explanation or defend myself from their judgement — real or imagined.

Safe because we wouldn’t hear all the ugly questions that might emerge from our unconscious programming, questions like “why can’t you just appreciate what you have?” or “who do you think you are, sleeping around, letting guys take advantage of you?”

After experiencing more than one sexual violation since starting my poly journey, it’s hard to not wonder why the hell I would put myself in that situation… just as, after being mugged, assaulted or raped while walking home late at night, a woman might ask herself why she was out walking alone late at night. ...

These are both examples of rape culture. The question: why would you walk around late at night? being placed on a woman who was assaulted blames the woman. Why would you be polyamorous? is the same thing, when the question comes after a story about sexual assault that happened during a date.

Joe Gardner / Unsplash
I shared such a story at a reading which a friend and I curated on the topic of Power. ... I was disappointed that none of the questions we posed to the audience such as “what is the difference between power and empowerment?” and “What is empowerment to you?” — combined with my reading about sexual consent — didn’t lead to a discussion about sex.

Only one person spoke on this topic. In response to “What is empowerment to you?” she said, “For me, my sexuality is empowering.” I was impressed by her openness. Perhaps not coincidentally, she was the only other poly woman in the room....

If we don’t know how to talk about sex, the abuse of male privilege and power remains hidden behind closed doors, women doubting their experiences or feeling too frightened, uncomfortable or embarrassed to voice them.

...Through sharing these stories more openly, talking about these subtleties, we can 1. Get a better understanding of what is wrong and 2. Empower ourselves to put our finger on what is wrong, band together and find solutions. ...

Dissing polyamory isn’t going to fix the problem, and in fact, my experience with poly people is that they are much more comfortable and open about talking about these issues. We’ve already acknowledged that sexuality is part of our identity. ...

Read the whole article (January 4, 2019).

● A recent discussion thread on reddit/r/polyamory: Poly Shame Shocker (December 2018):

I’ve had an epiphany. I’m more terrified of coming out as poly than I did coming out queer. ... I seem to have a mild sense of shame, or concern something is wrong with me, for believing something the majority does not, which comes as a shock because I believe that I usually make decisions free from caring what others think, yet here I am keeping my mouth shut about partners I love because of fear. ...

● And to close on a happier note — here's comedian No Fun Gaby Dunn, bi & poly writer and YouTuber, on Ash Hardell's channel talking about skittish bis doing the respectability-politics thing regarding those slutty polyfolks. We begin with the show in progress:


Labels: ,

January 5, 2019

All 31 polyamory conventions, campouts, and retreats for 2019. Plan now!

In addition to Polyamory in the News, I maintain Alan's List of Polyamory Events. It lists all the poly conventions, retreats, campouts, and other big gatherings — regional, national, and international — for the next 12 months, with detailed descriptions.  31 of them are set or in the planning stages for 2019.

Here's a cut-and-paste of the list as it stands at the start of 2019, in order by date.


Upcoming Events for the Next 12 Months

Any I missed?  Fixes needed?
Write me at  alan7388 (at) gmail.com
—Alan M.,  Polyamory in the News


Winter Poly Wonderland
January 25–28, 2019
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

Michael Rios, Indigo Dawn, Dawson Driver, and their friends and partners in Network for a New Culture organize several poly and poly-friendly workshop retreats around the year at the Abrams Creek Conference Center in the mountains of West Virginia. Their goal is to build, over several days, an enduring network of sympathetic people from all over who won't necessarily fall out of touch as happens after most events. “The point is building tribe,” says Michael.

I went to Winter Poly Wonderland 2018 and have attended the (largely poly) Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East for many years. New Culture's practices for community creation and interpersonal-skills development, from ZEGG Forum to relationship-skills workshops, are ideal for this ambitious goal. “Here is where you can meet other poly people at a deeper level, learn the skills needed to handle your relationships, and become a part of a supportive network of people who share your relationship values.” Winter Poly Wonderland is one of the smaller, more intimate of these events; 29 of us attended in January 2018.

● Poly Living East (Philadelphia)

February 8–10, 2019
Philadelphia, PA

Poly Living is put on each year by the Loving More nonprofit group, in an excellent large hotel near the Philadelphia airport and a rail stop. This will be Poly Living's 14th year (the 12th under Loving More's management). It's been drawing a lively crowd of 200+ for talks, workshops, socializing, sharing, party and fun. Here are the 2019 presenters. Here's my writeup of the first Poly Living I attended (2006). In 2012 I gave the keynote speech. I'll be back again this time. Hope to meet you there!

Loving More, "supporting polyamory and relationship choice since 1985," is the original poly organization of the modern era and played a central role in getting the whole movement going.

● Kleines Polytreffen, Winter (Germany)
March 1–5, 2019
near Fulda, Germany

Since 2008 the German organization PolyAmores Netzwerk (PAN) e.V., at Polyamory.de, has been organizing transregional "Poly Meetings" for German-speaking polyfolks in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. According to the organizers, the gatherings serve as "a platform for networking and for the exchange of experiences and practical know-how. Also theoretical discussions and the planning of cultural and political activities. The programme is self organized by the participants. Minimum age 18. Two 'Grand Poly Meetings' take place every spring and fall; these draw 120 to 150 people for up to 70 workshops, talks and other events. The smaller winter meeting gathers about 40." In past years the meetings have sold out within days of being announced.

Southwest Love Fest: A Conference on Ethical Non-Monogamy
March 29–31, 2019
Tucson, AZ

The first Southwest Love Fest in 2018 was a great success, selling out with just over 240 people, remarkable for a first-time event. I found the vibe exuberant and excited, the attendees (80% from Arizona) great-hearted and significantly diverse, and the presenters I caught were mostly excellent. The Saturday-night social events included a simultaneous treasure hunt, a psytrance-music dance party with costuming available, and a cuddle puddle in a pop-up gazebo under the stars. There was child care, self-organized discussion sessions on a new alt-sex-communitywide response to abuse and problem people, and brainstorming on poly activism and the Polyamory Leadership Network. The smallish, tropical-style hotel was an excellent fit; it felt like a hotel takeover, a vibe that the management allowed.

Conference organizers Kate Kincaid and Sara Bachmann-Williams had recruited 8 or 10 committed, long-term volunteers from the Tucson and Phoenix poly and kink communities, and the size of the event seems to have been due to word of mouth. Heavy involvement by the local community seems to make the difference for the success of a polycon. Conference organizers in other cities, including Atlanta's Billy Holder and the Relationship Equality Foundation, mentored the organizers and vetted their hotel contract. In turn, says Kate, she and Sara will help advise anyone who wants to start a hotel polycon in their own city (write to southwestlovefest AT gmail.com). They hope to enlarge Southwest Love Fest for 2019.

● RelateCon
March 29–31, 2019
Boise, Idaho

Now in its third year, "RelateCon provides a unique and supportive gathering place for polyamorous people to connect as a community through educational workshops, social spaces, and opportunities for networking. The core value of this conference is to empower healthy relationships across a myriad of configurations." It's organized by the Boise Polyamory Network. The first RelateCon in 2017 drew about 120 people, impressive for a first event, and in 2018 it nearly sold out. Here are the 2019 presenters. Facebook. Twitter. Wrote Ginger Polynirvana in 2017, "We are able to offer a simultaneous Professional track at RelateCon, which will offer CEUs to a wide variety of disciplines such as lawyers, social workers, counselors, and teachers." Here's Kitty Chambliss's enthusiastic writeup of the 2017 event. Here's the local alternative weekly paper's writeup that year.

● Polytopia
March 29–31, 2019
Portland, Oregon (Downtown Convention Center)

Sex-Positive Portland will host the city's fourth annual "polyamory and open relationship symposium and celebration." The 2018 event sold out with a capacity of 150. From the 2019 description: "This three-day weekend exploration of polyamory includes an opening night gala, workshops, panel discussions, a poly house party and a guided poly massage-a-trois. Come learn, play, and explore your edges. Learn from our experienced and inspiring presenters sharing knowledge, tips, and wisdom while we celebrate a passion for loving more. Bring your friends and extended poly family, meet new friends and lovers, find your people!

"Polytopia 2019 offers workshops for those who are relatively new to navigating the joys and pitfalls of loving more and workshops for those who are already well-experienced with polyamory who are looking for ways to better live the life they love. Workshops will be in a variety of formats ranging from lecture and discussion to experiential and embodied activities in dyads, triads and more. We will also offer lunchtime discussion panels and affinity groups to choose from each day to deepen our knowledge and connections with each other."

Poly Big Fun
April 12–14, 2019
near Austin, Texas

In 2018 the usual site for this event in Bastrop State Park was closed for renovations, but now it's open again and Poly Big Fun is back. "PBF is a time for us to come together as a community and celebrate. We hold multiple workshops on various relationship building topics such as effective communication, time management and relationships, multifamily households, community parenting, and more."

● Rocky Mountain Poly Living
April 12–14, 2019
Denver, CO

This will be Rocky Mountain Poly Living's sixth year. It's run by Loving More (based in Colorado), which has put on Poly Living East in Philadelphia every February for 12 years. As in Philly, talks, workshops, socializing, sharing, party and fun. Now offering a CEU track for professional therapists. Here are the Denver event's 2018 workshops and speakers/presenters. (In 2016 I gave the keynote speech.)  Loving More, "supporting polyamory and relationship choice since 1985," is the original poly organization of the modern era and played a central role in getting the whole movement going.

● Solo Polyamory Conference 2019
May 4–5, 2019
San Francisco, CA

"Are you new to polyamory and exploring the many possible configurations, or been practicing honest non-monogamy for decades? Regardless of where you are on the experience spectrum, you’ll appreciate the support, community, camaraderie, hospitality, and awesome keynote speakers we’re assembling for your enjoyment, learning, and growth. Building on 2017's inaugural worldwide event in Vancouver BC and last year's event in Seattle, in association with Facebook's largest and most vibrant solo polyamory discussion group, this is your opportunity to meet other solo non-monogamous people and share real life experiences!" The 2018 Seattle conference sold out at capacity 150.

● PolyLove fesztivál
Spring 2019 (dates to be announced)
Budapest, Hungary

Hosted by Poliamoria Magyarország. From the announcement of the 2018 event: "2 és fél nap az alternatív (pár)kapcsolatok, család, a szabad szerelem és a szabad gondolkodás jegyében. Akár csak 2017-ben, most is lesz előadás, workshop, beszélgetőkör, mozgás, tánc, kreatív műhely, és minden, ami csak érdekel. Gyertek el, tegyétek fel kérdéseiteket, osszátok meg gondolataitokat, tudásotokat, tapasztalataitokat egymással! Azokat is várjuk, akik nem, vagy csak keveset tudnak a témáról, de szívesen tudnának többet. ... A PolyLove fesztivál célja, hogy a poliamoriát és etikus többpartnerűséget ismertebbé tegye, baráti hangulatú teret nyújtson, ahol az iránta érdeklődők megoszthatják gondolataikat, kérdéseiket, tapasztalataikat egymással, megélhetik és felvállalhatják identitásukat, és az őket érintő témákban inspirációt kaphatnak." Video. The 2018 schedule.

International Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Nonmonogamy
Spring 2019 (dates to be announced)
Berkeley, CA

From the 2018 event: "This conference will explore issues related to monogamous and nonmonogamous relationships from an interdisciplinary perspective. This event will be devoted to presentations of scientific and academic research related to polyamory, open relationships, swinging, other forms of consensual nonmonogamy and related subjects. The conference does not take a position on whether any particular type or style of relationship is healthy or pathological. The intention of the event is explore the subject in as objective and unbiased a manner as possible. Presentations will cover various topics that offer some possible progress to a deeper and more complete understanding of the phenomenon of consensual nonmonogamy."

May 17–21, 2019 
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

This is a smaller, more intimate version of New Culture Summer Camp held every July at the Abrams Creek Retreat Center in the mountains of West Virginia (see July for description). These events draw about 70% polyfolks; the focus is on building practices of transparency, self-understanding, communication skills, and intimacy that can create radically better relationships of any type. The events aim to build, over five days, an enduring network of like-minded people who don't necessarily fall out of touch as happens after most events. "The point is building tribe," says organizer Michael Rios. I've gone to the New Culture Summer Camp for years, and attended the smaller Winter Poly Wonderland retreat in January 2018, and I can't recommend New Culture events highly enough.

"At Spring Camp, we’ll dive into compassionate, loving exploration of our desires and boundaries – spiritual, sensual, emotional, and more. Starting with intensive training in consent and clear communication, we’ll be gently encouraged to step into our power as autonomous, playful, flexible beings."

● International OpenCon Catalonia
Spring 2019 (dates to be announced)
Galliners, Catalonia, Spain

2019 will be OpenCon Catalonia's eighth year. It is modeled on the U.K. OpenCon with a self-generated "unconference" program. "An opportunity to get together in a friendly environment and share our experiences, our questions, the lessons we’ve learned, and the joys we’ve experienced in this new territory of polyamory/non-monogamy/open relationships. The basic plan is to combine workshops with plenty of opportunities for relaxing and socialising. Check the what will happen page for details on the programme as it develops." Capacity was increased to 60 people for 2017, but it still sold out well in advance. Here are an account of the 2017 conference and more about past years. The working language is English. Over 18 only. This event sells out far in advance.

● Chicago Non-Monogamy Conference
Spring 2019 (date to be announced)
Chicago, IL

This one-day event happened for the first time in 2017, with big help from the Relationship Equality Foundation. It sold out in advance. From the 2017 description: "Our goal is to help bring the Chicago non-monogamy community together across all the lines that divide us — age, gender, race, class, location, ability, configuration, label, and all of the other categories which house us." For 2018, "CNMC will be all about taking the privilege out of polyamory: addressing race, sex, ability, and class in the non-monogamy community." Facebook page. Presenter application deadline: April 15.

Atlanta Poly Weekend
June 7
–9, 2019
Sheraton Atlanta Downtown, Atlanta, GA

A super-friendly weekend hotel conference of talks and discussions on poly relationships and making them work, and whatever other topics people propose; comedy, dance, and games; community building and socializing. Here was the 2018 schedule and speakers list. Kid-friendly; ask about the kids' program. I've been to most APWs since the first in 2011 (see my writeup from 2012) and gave the closing keynote talk in 2013. Total attendance in 2018 was over 200 (not all present at any one time). On opening night at least half the crowd raised their hands when asked "Who's here for the first time?" If you plan to bring a kid, please register as early as possible for planning purposes.

● Summer Polytreffen (Germany)
June 18–23, 2019

The German organization PolyAmores Netzwerk (PAN) e.V., at Polyamory.deruns transregional "Poly Meetings" for German-speaking polyfolks in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The organizers say the gatherings are "a platform for networking and for the exchange of experiences and practical knowhow. Also theoretical discussions and the planning of cultural and political activities. The programme is self organized by the participants." Minimum age 18. In past years the meetings have sold out within days of being announced.

● Polyamory Unconference
July 20, 2019
Columbus, Ohio

This is a one-day event by the folks who throw the big Beyond The Love convention in the fall. "Polyamory Unconference is an event that is run by you, the participants! Attendees get to propose, vote on, and run sessions themselves. You’ll set the agenda and create an environment of innovation and productive discussion! Request topics and workshops on issues that you want to hear about, or present something — a facilitated discussion, a workshop on a specific skill, or a lecture on a topic you are familiar with. Advantages of the unconference format include: a focus on topics that are relevant to the attendees, an opportunity for teamwork development, flexibility of schedule, and an emphasis on contributions from every participant. The relationships built during an unconference often continue well past the event."

OpenCon València
Spring/Summer 2019 (dates to be announced)
Alboraig, València, Spain

"Un esdeveniment per a compartir experiències sobre les relacions afectives ètiques no normatives: Poliamor, Anarquia Relacional, Xarxes Afectives, etc. Un cap de setmana de debats, tallers i activitats lúdiques que ens brindaran l'oportunitat de conèixer gent amb idees i actituds obertes entorn a les relacions afectives. Un espai on compartir experiències i inquietuds sobre models de vincles entre les persones, des d'una perspectiva feminista, solidària i basada en el respecte. El contingut de l'OpenCon el proporcionen les persones assistents, per la qual cosa cada convocatòria és una sorpresa i una experiència única." Poliamor Valencia Facebook page.

● Polywood Camping 2019
Summer 2019 (dates to be announced)
near Eganville, Ontario

"A kid-friendly poly camping weekend, at Raven’s Knoll Campground. Join us for a weekend of community building as we learn from each other via informal discussions, socializing, and fun. Come meet fellow like-minded poly people around the large communal bonfire; take part in various relationship building and strengthening discussions; share your poly knowledge and experiences over wine and cheese." Swimming, showerhouse, food truck. Camper hookups available, dogs welcome. The program for 2018.

● Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East
July 12–21, 2019
Abrams Creek Center, Mount Storm, WV

I've attended this interesting, powerful, ten-day event for eight years. Network for a New Culture explores building intimate sustainable community through practices of curiosity, transparency, self-exploration, and self-responsibility. The days are structured around ZEGG Forum, various self-improvement and human-potential presenters visiting to offer their stuff, and sharing life, work, and play in the West Virginia mountain woods.

“While not exclusively a poly event,” says co-founder Michael Rios, “Summer Camp East is about 70% polyfolk, and 100% poly-friendly.” Here are my impressions from my first year. Here's a bit more from my fourth (last two paragraphs).

About 70 to 90 people attend. Vegetarian group meals with work sharing; cabins and campsites in the woods (no vehicle hookups); bathhouse with sinks and hot showers. Some indoor accommodations are available onsite. Conditions are rustic, but a camp-owned motel is 3 miles away. Kids welcome; inquire early in advance about kids' program. Here's a beautiful, and accurate, promo video (I'm in it).

● PolyDallas Millennium

July 11–13, 2019
Dallas, TX

A conference on ethical non-monogamy that centers black voices. Writes co-organizer Ruby Johnson, "PolyDallas Millennium is a sex-positive sexual health symposium that is a platform for marginalized and oppressed groups. We provide education on ethical non-monogamous relationships in an oppressive and stigmatizing society. Educators, activists, and community leaders that are representative of the attendees engage the audience in shared language and experiences. PolyDallas Millennium is a symposium that has space and joy for all communities and all ways of being." CEUs are available for therapists and other professionals.

I was there in 2018 with about 200 other registrants, the largest turnout in the conference's four years. Excellent program, excellent and thought-provoking speakers, and a very welcoming vibe toward all.

Minnesota PolyCon
Summer 2019 (date to be announced)
Minneapolis, MN

In July 2018 this new one-day event drew 86 people to workshops and presentations on sex positivity & consent, anatomy of arousal, solo poly, polyamory & mental health, poly & parenting, poly & religion, deconstructing jealousy, being out & poly, and fundamentals of good communication for your polycule. It ran all day and into the night. The schedule for 2018 was already seeking speakers and volunteers for 2019. Sponsored and run the MNPoly Meetup group.

On the dock at Polycamp Northeast
● Polycamp Northeast
Late summer 2019 (dates to be announced)
Southeastern New Hampshire

This 3½-day event began with a smashing success in August 2016, then grew larger in 2017 and 2018. I attended the first two. About 65 extraordinary people self-organized a variety of informal talks and fun activities: nonviolent communication techniques, general poly discussion, the latest STI information, yoga, campfires, board games, tie-dyeing, a kayak race, cuddle party, dance. The venue is a well-equipped old New England summer camp (all the cabins have private baths) in the New Hampshire lakes region north of Boston. Waterfront with paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, water trampoline. Three meals a day included. It's put on by organizers of New England Polyamory.

Endless Poly Summer
August 16–22, 2019
Abrams Creek Retreat Center and Campground, Mt. Storm, WV

This will be the sixth year for Endless Poly Summer, one of the seasonal poly retreats that Indigo Dawn, Dawson Driver, Michael Rios and friends produce at Abrams Creek based on Network for a New Culture principles and ideas. These aim to build, over five days, enduring intimate community. I've gone to many of their events and endorse them highly. New Culture's practices for community creation and interpersonal-skills development are remarkable and effective.

From the website: “Here is where you can meet other poly people at a deeper level, learn the skills needed to handle your relationships, and become a part of a supportive network of people who share your relationship values.... Spend up to 5 days in a rustic woods-and-water setting, hang out around a bonfire, enjoy a song circle, cuddle up at a snuggle party, learn to take your relationships to the next level, and build connections with others that last all year long! We invite top-notch presenters, and live, work, learn and play together.” Conditions are rustic, but indoor accommodations are available. A beautiful, and accurate, promo video (I'm in it).

At Burning Man
Aug. 25 – Sept. 2, 2019
Nevada desert

Village of PolyParadise
Poly Paradise has been running at Burning Man for two decades. This is a large theme camp cluster, last year 350 x 440 feet, with 250 to 300 campers, about a third of them new each year. Workshops and events include Heart of Now, Poly High Tea, the famous Human Carcass Wash, the Hiney Hygiene Station, Mind Melt, Revolutionary Honesty, Mindful Hugging Meditation, and a poly mixer. Writes Benevolent Dictator Scotto, "PolyParadise 2018 was absolutely incredible and our best effort yet at creating this amazing On-Playa home. Each year there are many challenges and together we find a way to make things right, together we build an amazing space within the gates of BRC, a place to really call home in the desert." Details.

PolyCamp UK
Aug. 29 – Sept. 1, 2019
West Midlands, UK

New event! "A short camping break away for polyamorous, RA, and non-mono people and their families." The site is a 23-acre scout camp, and all events are kid-friendly. In addition to sessions organized by attendees, available activities will include archery, climbing and abseiling, arts and crafts, board games, bushcraft, woodland walks, campfire activities, storytelling. Saturday evening party with a Rocky Horror Picture Show theme. Accommodations are tentsites and cabins; persons with special needs get cabin priority. Breakfast, dinner, and food to cook over a fire provided; bring your own snacks. Facebook page.

OpenCon Madrid (Spain)
Late summer 2019 (date to be announced)
Avila, Spain

"OpenCon Madrid is an international event open to all those who want to discover that happy and sincere relations are not necessarily monogamous." This is a self-organized unconvention in the style of OpenCon Catalonia and the original OpenCon in the UK. "Debates, workshops and recreational activities that will give you the opportunity to meet people with your same ideas and attitudes, share experiences and concerns, help strengthen our community and enjoy its diversity." The working language is Castilian. 2019 will be OpenCon Madrid's fifth year. The venue has been a large house in the country 100 km from Madrid, maximum capacity 70. The conference has sold out fast when registration opens.

New Culture Fall Camp
October 2019 (date to be announced)
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

This is a smaller, more intimate version of New Culture Summer Camp held every July at the Abrams Creek Retreat Center in the mountains of West Virginia (see July here for description). These events draw about 70% polyfolks; the focus is on building practices of transparency, self-understanding, communication skills, and intimacy to create radically better relationships of any type. The aim to build, over several days, an enduring network of like-minded people who don't necessarily fall out of touch as happens after most events. "The point is building tribe," says organizer Michael Rios.

I've gone to the larger New Culture Summer Camp for the last seven years and can't recommend New Culture events highly enough. From the website: “Here is where you can meet other poly people at a deeper level, learn the skills needed to handle your relationships, and become a part of a supportive network of people who share your relationship values.... Spend up to 5 days in a rustic woods-and-water setting, hang out around a bonfire, enjoy a song circle, cuddle up at a snuggle party, learn to take your relationships to the next level, and build connections with others that last all year long!”

Explains Michael, "We are exploring the questions: What does it mean to be there for each other? What would it take to be solidly present in each others’ lives, responding flexibly and with love to the needs that emerge? What might we do right now to be there for each other? What role does commitment play? The deep truth is that each person is fundamentally alone. Yet at the same time, there is beauty and skillfulness in interdependence.... And beyond merely meeting needs, we can find delight in co-creation, and in the many ways we can support each other in greater joy. At this community journey, we will open these explorations in a field of love, curiosity, and compassion."

● Fall Polytreffen (Germany)
October 9–13, 2019

The German organization PolyAmores Netzwerk (PAN) e.V., at Polyamory.deruns transregional "Poly Meetings" for German-speaking polyfolks in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The organizers say the gatherings are "a platform for networking and for the exchange of experiences and practical knowhow. Also theoretical discussions and the planning of cultural and political activities. The programme is self organized by the participants." Minimum age 18. In past years the meetings have sold out within days of being announced.

Polyday 2019 (UK)

Fall 2019 (date and place to be set)

Polyday 2018, held in London, drew a record 254 people and got a very nice writeup in Vice. From the website: "Come and meet hundreds of people that identify as non-monogamous at the largest event in Europe on polyamory, Relationship Anarchy and other forms of non-monogamy. New to polyamory or just curious? Experienced in all forms of non-monogamy? Something in between? Polyday has something for you! In previous years talks have covered designing relationships, sexual health, polyamory and mental health, polyamory and children, and BAME and non-monogamy. There will be opportunities to socialise, meet up after the event, and quiet space if you need a break." Here's the Facebook event page for 2018. The 2018 PolyDay sold out in advance.

Beyond The Love
November 2019 (date to be announced)
Columbus, Ohio

The BTL producers drawn by Tikva
Wolf. (Ginger stayed home.)
This rollicking hotel conference drew a record 300 people in 2018, selling out in advance as usual. The conference organization was again superb, the attendees were amazing and interesting, the energy high, and all of the presenters that I caught did excellent jobs. Many local volunteers helped to put on a rich social schedule in addition to the four tracks of sessions during the day. Here are the 2018 presenters, classes, and schedule.

Also: the triad who organize it say they are eager to help you learn how to put on a poly hotel conference, and they can provide you their project-management software that tracks everything to do starting six months out. Contact them at producers(at)beyondthelove.org.


To add an event (of wide geographic interest, please) email it to me at alan7388 {at} gmail.com.

Kimchi Cuddles characters and stories are based the cartoonist's real life. See her followup strip. And yes, she, "Rajeev" and "Terra" all made it to the Beyond the Love polycon in Ohio.


and their get-togethers!

For socials, potlucks, discussions, support, outings, etc. near you, find and join your local poly group(s). You can:

● Try googling polyamory [your state and/or city]

Check Meetup.com with keyword polyamory and enter your zip code or city.

Search Facebook Groups for polyamory [your state and/or city] and for poly [your state and/or city].

● Check these lists:

   – Directory of Local Poly Groups maintained on Facebook. It's editable! If yours isn't here yet, add it.

   – Tristan Taormino's big list (needs updating), on the website of her book Opening Up. (Send additions, corrections, and changes to raymond (at) puckerup.com )

   – Canadian Polyamory Groups, courtesy of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.

   – Local Poly Group Registry, currently hosted by Michael Rios at polyinfo.org. This once-grand list seriously needs updating. Send additions, corrections, and changes to groups (at) polyinfo.org. If you can help the updating project, please write to that address.


Can't find a local group near you? Maybe that's the universe saying you should start it!

Here is organizer Kitty Chambliss's Polyamory Guide to Community Building. "So perhaps you’d like to start a community from scratch right in your local area. I’m going to give you a roadmap for success to do just that!"

And here are Joreth's many thoughts on the kinds of poly community events that might work in your area. She's been an organizer for a long time and has pretty much done it all.

Prefer audio? From the Polyamory Weekly podcast: Episode #365, Building your poly community with meetups; and Episode #464, Building Your Poly Community as it grows.


[Permalink to the live, continuously updated ALAN'S LIST of POLYAMORY EVENTS]

Labels: , , ,

January 1, 2019

"Consensual Non-Monogamy: A Year of Research in Review"

A writer on the Psychology Today blogsite of experts gives a summary of CNM research findings that were published in 2018. Highlights:

Consensual Non-Monogamy: A Year of Sex Research in Review

The top research findings on CNM this year, and what we still have yet to learn.

By Sarah Hunter Murray Ph.D.

There is nothing new about the practice of Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM) — an umbrella term that captures polyamory, swinging, and various other forms of ethically "open" relationships — but you wouldn't be blamed for thinking it was a new fad or trend given the surge of attention the topic has received in 2018. ...

...Researchers studying CNM have made some big strides this past year. Here are 5 of the biggest findings...:

1. Consensual Non-Monogamous Relationships are Just as Healthy and Satisfying as Monogamous Ones. ...

2. Having Our Sexual Needs Met in One Relationship Can Have a Positive Impact on an Additional Sexual Relationship. ...

3. Why We're Having Sex Matters More Than Our Relationship Structure. ...

4. We Are Most Accepting of "Primary" Partners.

...Even when individuals participate in CNM relationships, research suggests we tend to treat "primary" relationships differently than other sexual and/or romantic partners. Dr. Rhonda Balzarini, a postdoctoral researcher at York University, suggests that this might be due to fears of judgment from friends and family and indicates that this can be burdensome for those in CNM relationships. ...

5. Many Therapists Are Unprepared to Work with CNM Clients

...Dr. Heath Schechinger... says: "Our participants repeatedly mentioned how harmful their therapists lack of education about CNM and judgmental attitudes were. Over half of our participants indicated that their therapist held judgmental or pathologizing views of consensual non-monogamy, and one-fifth of our participants reported that their therapist lacked the basic knowledge of consensual non-monogamy issues necessary to be effective."

What We Still Need to Learn About CNM Relationships

...1. Start by Moving Away From the Black & White Approach to Studying CNM

..."The literature has been criticized for presenting either celebratory representations of CNM (as amazing radical, perfect alternatives to monogamy) or as “dangerous” alternatives that will ruin relationships," [Dr. Jessica] Wood states. She argues that "relationships, whether they are CNM or monogamous, are complex and people need space to be able to discuss these complexities without fear of further stigmatization."

2. Explore How People Navigate Challenges in Their CNM Relationships. ...

3. Improve on How CNM Research Data is Being Collected. ...

4. Understand The Potential Mental Health Challenges Unique to CNM Identified Individuals. ...

5. Examine How Sexual Needs Are Being Fulfilled. ...

Do read the whole article (December 31, 2018). With references.

A caution from me the science guy: don't take such findings as gospel yet. Research needs to be replicated successfully over and over, by different people using different methods, before a finding can be considered settled. Research in the social sciences has an especially poor record for replication failures.



December 25, 2018

Umm, that article: "Polyamorous sex is the most quietly revolutionary political weapon in the United States"

With a headline like that, this massive article in Quartz (4,400 words) had a lot to live up to. It has raised a stir in the poly world since it appeared last Thursday, and not in a good way, with some very sharp reactions.

The story is certainly sympathetic, and its thesis might seem bold and gratifying. But look again. The story is coming under fire for (1) being carelessly reported, with errors about people in it, (2) confusing the fact that some people are finding new freedoms with a revolutionary political movement, and especially (3) wearing narrow cultural blinders: only noticing that cis het white mainstreamers are discovering a thing that others have been living for a long time. Especially with that overreaching headline.

See what you think. The article is by a prolific writer; it's one of 12 she has cranked out for Quartz so far this month.

Pardon me for being several days late with this post. This is going to be long, so sit back and settle in.

First, some excerpts:

Polyamorous sex is the most quietly revolutionary political weapon in the United States

By Olivia Goldhill

To find polyamorists today, head to Brooklyn.

In areas of the borough dominated by corporate-sponsored graffiti and homogenous warehouses-turned-craft-cocktail-bars, the practice of dating multiple lovers has developed into a social scene. ...

...Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Americans who rejected monogamy typically did so in an effort to throw off mainstream, normative culture and politics. But the attendees of Tableaux fit in with the rest of privileged, gentrified Brooklyn: They match the dark, tattered-glamor aesthetic of the room; wear dark-grey clothes and plenty of eyeliner; and are overwhelmingly white. In a group of more than 50, fewer than five are people of color. And, though people at the party tell me the polyamory community is ahead of the curve on gender politics, most there present as cis; most queer women as femme. Sex is no more prominent here than at any other party in middle-class Brooklyn. We discuss vegan burgers and holiday destinations. ...

Yet many polyamorists consider the whole lifestyle to be radically transformative by virtue of its nature. ...

...The lack of overt political activism in today’s polyamorous communities is quite different from earlier generations of American polyamorists. The few who openly practiced polyamory in the 1960s and 1970s typically lived on communes, and outwardly rejected capitalist ideals of a nine-to-five, conventional lifestyle. Many practiced some form of communism, pooling all their resources and ensuring everything, from food to sleeping partners, was shared equally. In some cases, this commitment to “equality” went so far as to undermine free choice. One famous polyamorous commune, Kerista, based in San Francisco from the 1970s to 1990s, insisted that members live according to a strict sex schedule, rotating who they slept with each night within formally organized groups, or “best-friend identity clusters” of four to 15 people.

“What’s happening now is so much more healthy, because it’s deciding for yourself,” says Jessica*, a 34-year-old who asked to use a pseudonym as she’s not yet out as polyamorous to her parents. Jessica, who has a wide smile and the slightly scruffy look of a Brooklyn resident too distractedly happy to worry about preening, describes polyamorous politics as a mixture of socialism — a respect for a non-hierarchical society that values collective, community decision-making — and a libertarian belief that everyone should be free to make their own decisions without government interference. For example, Jessica and other polyamorists I speak with say there’s very little discussion about the right for polyamorous marriage, because few in today’s poly community believe government recognition of a union is a worthwhile goal.

However, while they may not be organizing as a collective around specific issues, many polyamorists today believe the act of dating multiple people is inherently political, since monogamy, they note, is inextricably linked with both economics and politics.

In the late 1960s, feminists made the groundbreaking argument that the personal is political: How we interact in private, and in our intimate relationships, has political implications, and therefore the tenor of those interactions should be examined in the public sphere. The way a husband treats his wife, for example, does not just characterize one individual relationship, but reflects widespread societal norms that determine both male and female career opportunities and expectations at home. ... The people we choose to have sex with, and how we treat our romantic partners, are not just personal choices, but political acts.

Polyamory is radical politics from that perspective. Today’s polyamorists may not be rejecting conventional jobs or bourgeois consumption, but they are shifting fundamental structures of society simply by relating to each other differently.

Perhaps contemporary polyamorists’ embrace of and engagement with mainstream life allows them to surreptitiously change what it means to be “normal.” Progressive changes to gender roles, economic opportunities, and the definition of family, follow as consequences. ...

...Polyamory also shifts the sexist narrative around sex itself. ... The pervasive stereotype is that women are more eager for long-term monogamous relationships than men, and so, men pursue women for casual sex, while women seek a partner. In contrast, those I spoke to in the polyamory dating scene said both men and women are expected to enjoy sex for its own sake, without judgement, and that the “ghosting” and callous behavior so widespread in monogamous dating is practically unheard of in the polyamorous world.

Polyamory also has the power to transform traditional heterosexual family dynamics, and dismantle the gender norms demanded by that family structure. ...

Elise* is 14 years old and lives in Springfield, Virginia, not too far south of Washington, DC, with her mom, her mother’s boyfriend, and her mother’s boyfriend’s wife. There’s also her half-sister, two step-brothers, a roommate, and large dog in the house, as well as a “cave” room where the adults’ various partners occasionally stay the night. ... The family knows combining parenting with polyamory is controversial but laughs at the suggestion that there’s anything unhealthy about their arrangement. “Our joke is always ‘won’t somebody think about the children?’” says Elise’s mother, Jill. “People say that all the time to disparage non-traditional relationships. But our kids have this house full of folks who are interested and engaged with them.”

...“I don’t feel like our particular household is on some great political journey,” says Jill. If anything, “it’s a survival strategy.” Together, they can support each other and afford to live in a large, detached house with marble kitchen countertops and glossy wooden floors. “A lot of people are struggling financially,” she says. “A lot of people are lonely. This can really help people support each other.”


...Polyamory also struggles with racial diversity. There are a growing number of regional and national polyamory groups and events in the US, such as Poly Dallas and Black & Poly, with predominantly black attendees. And [Leon] Feingold, the Brooklyn landlord, presents polyamory as widely diverse both in terms of race and class. “You meet millionaires and people on food stamps,” he told me.

...But many polyamorists say the community is still predominantly middle-class and white, and there remains a distinct lack of events that are racially diverse. Kevin Patterson recently published a book, Love’s Not Color Blind, on how the polyamory community needs to address its white hegemony.

Chaele tells me the racial prejudice that exists in polyamorous communities reflects the wider world. “We don’t live in a vacuum utopia,” she says. “White people get centered in everything.” The major polyamory groups are predominantly white, she says, and there are smaller offshoots for those who feel uncomfortable identifying as a minority. Though Chaele is involved in majority-white polyamory groups, she says she occasionally wants to surround herself with other African American polyamorists. “It’s very hard to trust and want to be in predominantly white spaces sometimes,” she says.

...There are various theories about the cause of polyamory’s racial divide. Some of those I interviewed suggest it’s far easier to be polyamorous if you’re white and wealthy. Those already marginalized and persecuted due to their race or economic standing would understandably be less likely to take part in a relationship that’s viewed as transgressive. Others believe it’s because the polyamory community in the US was largely built by white founders, who reached out to others like them and didn’t try to be more inclusive.


[Michael] Rios, now 70, is one of those early founders. He helped run a polyamorous commune that moved throughout DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania in the 1960s and 1970s, and today leads a co-living space in Arlington, Virginia, predominantly filled with polyamorous people. ... When I visit at the end of March 2018, the house is warm and slightly messy, like the lovingly disheveled home of college students. In my afternoon there, I rarely see two people talking without also stroking each other, or kissing, or sharing a lingering hug.

"A few members of Chrysalis, a polyamorous community in Virginia." (It's actually an intentional-community house with some poly people. From left: Michael, Sarah, Indigo, Dawson.)

Rios says polyamorists today are far less politically zealous than in his younger years. “When I started off, anyone who was polyamorous was making a radical social statement,” he says. “These days, you get a lot of people who are in it because they want a more open sexuality. These people are not necessarily liberal, or feminist, or anything.” Many do, however, care about diversity.

When I visited, the house was majority white (five Caucasian and three Jewish), though one resident is African American, one South Asian, and one Latinx. Several younger members told me they’d like their community to become more diverse, and Rios later mentions in an email he’s planning to host an event organized by people of color. ...

Rios and his partner Sarah Taub have been running the Center For a New Culture (CFNC), a non-profit focused on teaching people the skills to create more intimate, loving relationships, since 2004. Today, Indigo and others in Chrysalis develop polyamory-friendly “New Culture” events in Virginia that are open to the wider public, such as evening workshops on personal growth and how to have drama-free relationships, and several-day-long sessions called “New Culture Camps.” For example, one three-day event, Winter Poly Wonderland, is described as “not just a party, or a conference” and offers workshops on intimacy building and relationship skills, as well as “hugs and cuddle piles” and dance sessions.

“New Culture is our baby,” says Indigo, bringing their hands together to form a cup and gazing at the invisible “baby” resting there. ... Indigo says they are in a “deep, long-term, loving, sexual relationship” with another Chrysalis resident, Dawson. They add that their other relationships within the house are intimate, but not necessarily sexual. (Ahead of our talk, Indigo and another housemate were lying on a bed, cuddling and kissing.) Indigo believes the culture of acceptance within their polyamory community is innately transformative, and describes the community’s philosophy as one of “abundance and freedom.”

...Taub points out that polyamory within the broader US culture is going through a process similar to Chrysalis’s adjustments as it grew. “The people who were initially into polyamory were really amazing, interesting, weird, iconoclastic — willing to go against all cultural norms for reasons both healthy and unhealthy,” she says. There can be something of a “culture clash,” she says, between those who were polyamorous back when it was more transgressive, and the younger, more mainstream polyamorists who are making the movement their own, seeking to improve it where they see fit, and gradually embracing more and more people and perspectives. These dynamics and politics are typical of any large movement. “First there are the pioneers and then there are the settlers,” says Taub. “We’re in the settler phase now.”

...For the most part, polyamorists are more likely to group together based on demographics, finding compatriots in, for example, suburban Virginia, progressive Seattle neighborhoods, and trendy Brooklyn bars. They’ve gone from oddity to humdrum normality and, though the community has largely abandoned some of the overt political ideals of polyamorous pioneers, polyamory’s new settlers are still, subtly but perceptibly, creating change. Polyamory today is not an overtly political movement. But it is still radical — quietly, personally, and apolitically.

Read the whole article (December 20, 2018).

Some narrow criticisms are about factual errors in the article and off-base representations.

Michael Rios, for instance, tells us, "What I said and what the reporter claimed I said had very little in common. I was horrified to see what was printed in the article about racial diversity. I never said or implied that racial diversity wasn't a problem; it is an issue that I have offered financial and resource support for. I was making the point that diversity is not only about race, but that there are other diversity issues also that might not be visually apparent."

Also, "Even something as simple as calling Chrysalis, where I live, a 'polyamorous community'. Some of us are poly, some are not; the community as a whole is not polyamorous." And, "I don't think I have ever had an interview be this far off. Many others who were interviewed have expressed similar concerns."

Both he and Sarah say the writer got the story wrong of how and why they dialed back their relationship, and Michael has posted elsewhere to correct the record. Indigo and Dawson were also planning responses.

Also, says Sarah, "I have an intention to post something overall renouncing the thesis that polyamory per se is a potent revolutionary tool. Rather, the skills behind successful polyamory — transparency, curiosity, compassion, strong boundaries, commitment to one's truth rather than abiding with norms that have been imposed on us — are potent tools for building a new culture, along with many other tools."

At least two other people in the story have publicly complained about being misquoted or other mistakes. Leon Feingold has since gotten a correction about his views into the published article.

More consequential criticisms focus on the story's narrow presentation of poly as a new white thing, a new straight or straight-presenting thing, or a Brooklyn hipster thing.

● Crystal Farmer, editor of Black & Poly's website, posted this response:

Representation Matters

When you talk to white middle class polyamorists, you get the viewpoint of white middle class polyamorists.

Olivia Goldhill recently wrote about polyamory and whether it is a political movement. While she acknowledged the existence of Black & Poly's Facebook page, she concluded that the poly community was largely white and cisgendered. Unfortunately she did not reach out to Ron Young or any of the non-white leaders in the polyamory movement. As a result, her article demonstrates a narrow view of polyamory.

Missing from the article are people of color and queer people who struggle to live their lives in a culture that is not at all accepting. Despite the fact that black polyamorists face discrimination from family, potential partners, and work colleagues, non-monogamy has always been a part of black culture. The Black Panthers lived collectively and had multiple partners during the sixties, but the author is ignorant of this history. Black & Poly specifically takes a womanist view of the world that centers the experiences and desires of women in a distinctly non-patriarchal way.

The author also glosses over the LGBTQ community and their history of non-monogamy. Though she mentions some women and non-binary people who identify as queer, it's clear she has only talked to bisexual women who largely operate in the heterosexual poly community. ...

Middle-class whites did popularize swinging, where couples meet in homes or sex clubs for purely physical relationships. The author confuses these two flavors of ethical non-monogamy while trying to define polyamory. In doing so, she conflates sex and love in a way that many poly people dislike. The event she profiles in the article is not a poly meetup but a BDSM mixer. ...

...Poly family homes are another stereotype that is not part of most people's lived reality. For all her focus on marble countertops, she ignores the subset of black polyamorists that specifically seek to build black economic power outside of the mainstream economy. Once again, the black poly community is actually more political than the people she interviews. ...

The author went looking for radicalism in the poly community, and she found middle class people who are using their privilege to live comfortably despite having an alternative lifestyle. ...

If it feels like history is repeating itself, it is.

Read her whole article (Dec. 22).

● A queer response quickly appeared on The Daily Dot ("original reporting on Internet culture and life online"): Polyamory isn’t a ‘political weapon,’ it’s a way of life for queer folks (Dec. 21).

By Ana Valens

...It’s an, um, gripping headline, to say the least. But the article doesn’t tell the full story about polyamory, especially queer polyamory. ... We’re about to dive into a piece that’s so heteronormative, it might as well be called “Wife-sex world is the most quietly revolutionary political weapon in the United States.”

Goldhill’s piece opens with a line that’s sure to roll the eyes of every American sick of New York-centric culture takes: “To find polyamorists today, head to Brooklyn.” In peak gentrified Bushwick, Goldhill visits a casual, poly-friendly kinky mixer called “Tableaux.” The space is predominantly white, cis, and middle-class. To that end, polyamorists here “have no problem with consumerism,” and the political roots behind cisgender polyamory practices remain an ongoing undercurrent throughout the piece.

To a certain extent, polyamory is becoming more popular among cisgender heterosexual couples, and there’s a lengthy history to tackle there. But polyamory isn’t just a straight white person’s phenomenon. More than anything, I’m reminded of this line spoken by one source, a Black polyamorous Brooklyn resident named Chaele: “We don’t live in a vacuum utopia. White people get centered in everything.”

...Whiteness is seen as a default, and most interviews are with white people. Goldhill tackles racism to a certain extent, but it’s a passing thought....

Then, Goldhill writes as if polyamory is a niche that was largely relegated to fringe communes in the ’60s and ’70s, where “the few who openly practiced polyamory” gathered. In actuality, queer and trans spaces have practiced polyamory for a very long time. ...

One anonymous queer poly practitioner from Brooklyn reached out to me about the Quartz article, calling it “really weird and a bit disgusting” for largely focusing on “frivolous rich white straight people” over the queer and trans folks that spearhead modern polyamory practices.

I spoke to a trans woman named Jessie, who has practiced polyamory for around a decade. She believes the Quartz piece is hyperfixated on “assimilation” and not the social circumstances around polyamory. In other words, Goldhill ignores how polyamory gives queer people room to create their own family structures, as “being excluded from so-called ‘traditional’ family configurations leaves the door open to finding something else different that works.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s just the extent of [Goldhill’s] own bubble,” Jessie explained. ...

...To Goldhill’s credit, she doesn’t outright ignore queerness, racism, and discrimination in poly circles. She interviews a queer non-binary demigirl, notes that most poly women she spoke to identify as queer, tackles misogyny and homophobia among poly men, explores ableism against those who are neurodivergent, and touches on segregation in poly spaces.

But Quartz’s piece on polyamory is half-baked. It’s missing key sources and perspectives, ones that make room for American polyamory beyond a cis, white, middle-class lens. ... Where are the queer and trans stories? Where are the poly folks of color? Marginalized Americans were doing poly relationships long before it became cool, and they’ll be doing it long after Brooklyn hipsters start to leave polyamory behind. ...

● Snarking from Out.com: You Have to Try This New Thing Straight People Discovered (Dec. 21)

The straights are leading the sexual revolution, and the gays could really learn a thing or two.

...If the fundamental structures of society — that is, the nuclear, patriarchal, heterosexual family — are what have harmed us, why do we continue to slouch towards it? Perhaps, we should take a page out of the heterosexuals’ book and give this whole “polyamory” thing a try. Two partners! Can you imagine? Wish I’d thought of that.

● On a Twitter thread: "Sex [used in the article's title] is seriously the least radical part of polyamory. More worth talking about are how polyamory emphasizes the importance of communication, normalizes feelings like jealousy, and prioritizes community over the “just the two of us” mentality encouraged by monogamy."

And: "Poly love is revolutionary, poly sex is not."

● A more positive thread on Polyamory.com.


My takes?

Misreporting of facts is always inexcusable. So are misquotes of people. Misjudging the nuances of a situation is an error of judgment; these come in degrees. As for the writer describing the impressions people made on her? Fair game; that's the writer's job, and other people always see you differently than you see yourself. If you put yourself out there, get used to seeing yourself described the way someone else sees you.

As for the article's big thesis? The headline overstates it at least two ways: Poly is not politically revolutionary, even if you grant that the personal is political. Political revolution is about overthrowing ruling powers by mass action.

Poly is socially revolutionary, and importantly so; it violates and subverts some accepted (conservatives say fundamental) social norms, and it frees an important part of some people's lives. But the idea of well-functioning multi-relationships is not new, just new to today's Western white overculture — something the writer never saw, or worse, didn't think worth mentioning. I see this as a "Yes, and" problem with the story, which was interesting and thoughtful within its own narrow confines.

As for the "Polyamorous Sex" in the headline? Inflammatory clickbait by a headline writer. The article barely mentions anyone's sex life and says nothing at all about the intricacies of polyamorous sex. The false clickbait headline reflects badly on Quartz, which touts itself as a high-quality site (it's owned by The Atlantic's parent company), and the headline's wild overclaim about revolutionary political force sets the article up for failure.