Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 31, 2007

A trans/queer triad meets a tabloid diet mag

Closer magazine (not)

Closer is a trashy women's magazine in the U.K. specializing in diets and celebrity gossip. One of its editors approached a triad family of three females, two of them M to F trans, about putting their story in the magazine. They agreed, for pay. You really think this is gonna have a happy ending, right?

Well it does. "Her article turned out very nicely and there are only a couple of inaccuracies," writes one of the three. "Unfortunately the text was edited before publication and the final product had a much more sensationalist slant." But the writer gave them the original, unedited version, and they've put it up on one of their blogs. It is a sweet tale:

By Mel Fallowfield

Picture the scene, a man turns to his wife to confess his huge secret. That he is a woman trapped in a man’s body and now wants to live as a woman. You’d never imagine her reaction would be to howl with relieved laughter.

And yet that was exactly what Kyeli did when her husband, now called Sera, broke the news to her. And the laughter was tinged with more than a little irony — for she’d been trying to pluck up the courage to confess her big secret to him, that SHE was a lesbian.

They’d been married for four years and had a son, Dru, now nine, when they ‘came out’ to each other. And incredibly since then their relationship has become stronger — despite them now living with another woman too, transsexual Pace, 29. All three of them share a bed, with Dru in a smaller one beside them.

“We know we sound like freaks,” says Kyeli, 30, who owns a recruitment agency. “But we couldn’t be happier. We all love each other intensely. We talk constantly and are very open with each other so there are rarely any jealousy issues. It might sound strange to everyone else but it works perfectly for us.”

Kyeli and Sera, now 32, met 13 years ago, in high school. Then Sera was a man, though she doesn’t like to reveal her name.

“From the beginning I had an amazing connection with Sera. Before that I’d dated a few men, but never felt much for them — I’d done it so I was the same as my friends. Sera was amazing though, we fell in love immediately. She was very gentle and soft and she really listened when I talked. I lost my virginity to her and it was wonderful.”

The couple soon moved in together and got engaged. After four years Kyeli fell pregnant with Dru, now nine. A few months after Dru was born they got married.

...But four years ago Sera dropped another bombshell and this time Kyeli wasn’t laughing.

“Sera met another woman on the internet — called Pace,” says Kyeli. “At first they were just friends. Then one weekend I went to visit my father and Pace and Sera met face to face for the first time.

“When I came home I looked at Sera and just guessed that she’d met someone special. She confessed she thought she’d fallen in love. But that she didn’t want to leave me.”

Astonishingly the couple decided the only way to make it work was if Kyeli met Pace, who works in computers, and saw how they got on, with a view to the three of them having a relationship.

“Talking about it now is easy,” says Kyeli. “But at the time of course I was extremely jealous and scared that Sera would leave me.

“And when I met Pace and she was lovely to me I suspected that it was only to get closer to Sera,” she adds. “But after my initial reservations I fell in love with her too. She was beautiful, funny and very quirky — it ended up being very easy.”

...“The secret to it working is to talk everything through,” says Kyeli. “I’m the jealous one but Sera and Pace never just dismiss my fears, they always reassure me.

“Now it’s just normal for us. Pace and I go out to work, while Sera stays and looks after Dru and the house.

“We take it in turns to go out on dates with each other and we all sleep together in one big bed. With sex sometimes we all get involved and other times two of us might get together. But we all get enough!”

Fortunately friends and family are very accepting of their unusual circumstances. Any reservations are for Dru’s well being growing up with three mothers.

“My dad does question whether it’s a healthy situation for Dru,” says Kyeli. “But anyone just has to meet him to see how well adjusted he is. He’s very proud of his life and tells everyone he has three mummies. We’ve asked him every step of the way if he’s happy and if he isn’t we’d change our life. No matter how much we love each other our child comes first.

“Sometimes I worry about the future and whether he might get teased. But the world’s changing so fast — who knows maybe one day we’ll be the norm.”

Read the whole article. (The version in Closer, which came out approximately Sept. 13, 2007, has vanished; the magazine doesn't put its articles online.)

Update: A local film student produced an 8-minute documentary about this family, centering on the kid. You can watch it on YouTube.

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October 28, 2007

Religion & poly: "Three's not a crowd; it's just the start"

Religion News Service

Last August, freelance religion writer Andrea Useem impressed a number of people favorably when she went asking around for poly people "who have strong religious ties" to interview about their beliefs. Three days ago the Religion News Service issued her article. A little more than half of it appears in today's Seattle Times (Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007):

By day, he's an Atlanta real-estate investor, a self-described political conservative, a member of a Methodist church, son of a Southern Baptist pastor.

After hours, he's known as "Mr. Big," a columnist for PolyamoryOnline.org. His family — a wife and five children — lives with a couple who have four children. Each husband is romantically involved with both wives, and vice versa.

As "Mr. Big" and his wife entered the polyamorous relationship with the other couple two years ago, he said he began to study the Bible more closely and "found something fishy."

"I still haven't figured out when Christianity and Judaism went from being polytype religions to strictly monogamous ones," said "Mr. Big," who asked not to be identified to protect his children's privacy.

Because Old Testament figures such as King David had multiple wives, he said, it was only logical that in today's society, in which men and women are equal, that women should be allowed multiple partners.

That doesn't mean it's at all respectable. "Our family has to keep things behind a little bit of a veil," he said. "Nobody wants to hear about your sex life at church."

That veil may be lifting — however slightly and slowly — as faith-minded polyamorists come out of the sexual closet. Mr. Big is just one of many polyamorists who say their multiple romantic relationships are intimately linked to their faith and values....

..."Ironically, some resistance has come from members of the gay and lesbian community, who have said we are 'muddying the waters' and diverting people from the goal of legalizing same-sex marriage," said Kathleen Reedy, 71, a divorcee who heads the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness.

Read the article. The Seattle Times cut it off after about 750 words; the whole thing is about 1,200 words long. Right now the full version is available only as a trial-subscription download from the Religion News Service for personal use. I'll swap in a better link if the full version appears elsewhere.

One quibble: The article, as it was edited, might give the impression that Biblical theology is the main orientation or justification among spiritually-minded polys. Of course this isn't so. (See the author's remarks on how her article was edited, in the Comments section below.) Neo-Paganism is a larger influence in the poly community, even though just a tiny fraction of the U.S. population identifies as Pagan or Wiccan. And a larger contingent, I think, qualifies as general-purpose "spiritual": believing that some supernatural force for good is operating in the world, or is trying to... and that by widening romantic love out of the narrow couple-box to make it more inclusive toward people generally, we move into closer alignment with that force.

Another large contingent is the atheist/ rationalist/ humanist wing, which is also represented out of proportion to its numbers generally. At poly conferences, it can be funny to see the tension at times between the highly educated scientist types intermingling with the airy New Age types.

Combining both tendencies are the many Unitarian Universalists, who provide a disproportionate number of poly leaders and organizers even within the movement.

Updates: The author writes in to say, "Thought you'd be interested in my expansion on the topic on Religionwriter.com" (her blog).

She later posted a related article, Polyamory and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate, on Religionwriter.com. Another good piece of work.

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October 25, 2007

"When Three's No Crowd"

Gay City News (New York)

Starting with a report on New York's recent Poly Pride celebration, "America's largest circulation gay and lesbian weekly newspaper" presents a long and positive introduction to what polyamory is about.

By Rachel Breitman

Whether joining in a pajama-clad cuddle party at LGBT Community Center's purple and white gymnasium, or spreading out picnic blankets on the verdant Great Hill in Central Park, the recent Poly Pride Weekend was all about sharing.

The annual event, hosted by Polyamorous NYC, celebrates the notion that having multiple committed romantic relationships may be as healthy and natural as monogamy. The weekend, held October 5 and 6, also serves as a chance for varyingly-structured relationship groups to learn about communication skills, examine their legal rights, and discuss raising children in multi-parent families.

The festive mood was set early, when the Friday night event hit record attendance for Cuddleparty, a three-year-old organization that holds workshops on communication and physical affection. Some 60 attendees cradled one another in the soothing non-sexual mood of a Lamaze class, more group therapy than orgy.

"Poly people love us because our workshop focuses on building better relationships, and that's their bread and butter," said Cuddleparty founder Marcia Baczynski, a relationship coach.

The following day, October 6, singers, writers, lawyers, and counselors spoke about the virtues and challenges of multi-love during a large Poly Pride Rally held in Central Park....

Polyamory NYC hosts monthly meetings at the LGBT Community Center averaging about 40 members, with more than 1,000 visiting their Yahoogroup.

...For many, the politics of polyamory are fraught with discord. Justen Bennett-Maccubbin, the mohawked [co-]founder of Polyamorous NYC, said that there is sometimes friction between the gay and polyamorous communities.

"Polyamory is just as much an orientation as being gay," said Bennett-Maccubbin, who started his first polyamorous relationship when he fell in love with a gay couple at 19.

"But a lot of the gay community isn't down with it. In the last decade, they have made a lot of strides toward acceptance and normalcy, and they don't necessarily want to be associated with other marginalized groups."

Anita Wagner, a polyamory advocate and educator, said that right-wing politicians frequently use polyamorists as bogeymen in gay marriage debates....

For children raised in a polyamorous environment, the fear of having their families exposed can be overwhelming. Rebecca Reagan, 33, grew up in a polyamorous family in Pasadena, California, where her parents shared their home with another married couple. Subsequently, the foursome split up after both couples remarried the alternate partner.

"It's normal. It's not a big deal," she told listeners in Central Park.

But she added that the stress of keeping her family's relationships secret had been very hard for her younger sister, who told no one until she was 20.

Now a relationship coach for singles and polyamorous couples, Reagan advocates that couples "represent themselves truthfully" and allow children to openly discuss the family situation....

Read the whole article (Oct. 25, 2007). And leave a comment there.

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October 23, 2007

"Overseas Man, Or Guy At Home?"

WPIX.com (Pittsburgh) and others

Advice columnists Betty and Eddie, whose "DoubleTake" column appears on TV stations' websites nationwide, toss polyamory onto the table as something to consider for a women with two guy interests. And they know enough to warn that it needs to be done right. (Though they kinda go downhill from there.) We can't be getting mainstream or anything now....

LifeFiles: Overseas Man, Or Guy At Home?

October 23, 2007

I am a single mom in my late 20s and have been dating a guy on and off for the last three years.... Things really took a turn for a more serious commitment at the beginning of this year. In May, he decided to go work overseas for about a year. Since then, I have been hanging out with a guy that I have known for a while and have really taken a liking to him.

I really like both of these guys for totally different reasons. They both feed parts of me that I need. The guy overseas is coming home soon for a visit, and I don't know what to do about the guy who is here now.

Betty says:

I'm going to throw this out there just for open-mindedness' sake: Is there any reason why you can't date both of these men simultaneously?

From what I've heard, polyamory can be personally fulfilling — as long as you do it right. That said, I'm guessing you're more of the monogamous type....

Eddie says:

I'm not sure we're talking polyamory here, which implies at least an attempt to make a decision about the philosophy one wants to apply in his or her life. (Or his and his and hers and hers, as the case may be.)...

Read the whole item. And post a comment there.

October 8, 2007

"Three's a Crowd?"

The Guardian (London)

In one of Great Britain's major newspapers, a relationship columnist fields a reader's question about whether polyamory can work.

Looks like she did some googling and got a rough-draft version of reality. Not all polys badmouth monogamy. Not all use the primary-secondary model. Nor must you be "a stranger to jealousy" (no more, some would argue, than your skin should not feel pain; some polys say they treat unexpected jealousy as a useful sign that something is genuinely amiss, either in themselves or others.)

But at least she looked it up, which is more than many advice columnists do. The concept got explained in a mainstream outlet, some readers will research it for themselves, and life-changing lightbulbs may go off over a few people's heads.

By Dr Luisa Dillner

...Polyamory is having more than one loving sexual relationship at the same time with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved. The 'love' bit distinguishes it from swinging — polys (as they are known in the US) do not throw their car keys into a lucky dip in some stranger's living room. Polys say that monogamy is dishonest (surveys show that at least a quarter of people are unfaithful) and unnatural. What little research there is shows that for polyamory to work, you both have to want it, be able to communicate well, respect each other and agree your relationship is the 'primary' one. You must be a stranger to jealousy. There are no estimates of how common it is in the UK; in the US, enthusiasts estimate there are half a million polys. It is more common in male couples....

Read the whole column (Sept. 6, 2007).

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October 2, 2007

NY Post: "Meet the New Swingers"

New York Post

To boost its low Sunday circulation, the New York Post — a scuzzy Rupert Murdoch tabloid — has just added a glossy, gossipy Sunday insert: Page Six magazine. The September 30 issue has a four-page article that portrays polyamory, or maybe swinging, as the hippest new trend of New York's Beautiful People. Or something. Judge for yourself:

Meet the New Swingers

They're beautiful, urbane and possess multiple degrees — and multiple partners. How a group of young New Yorkers are reinventing sex in the city.

By Melissa Lafsky

"We spend a lot more time ensuring that we have a lot more sex than the average person," brags Joe, a man with sandy-blond hair and a perma-grin. "An average person has, say, 15 to 20 partners by the time he hits 30. The average poly person more likely has in the hundreds."

Welcome to the Poly Hour, an invitation-only monthly mixer for polyamorous or "poly-curious" men and women in the five boroughs. Around 50 twenty- and thirty-somethings are mingling in a West Side bar, ordering drinks with names like "Yes You May" (a pinkish blend of vodka, melon liqueur and cranberry juice) and "The Threesome" (Captain Morgan, Bacardi and peach schnapps) and greeting each other like old friends. A lot of them are — in fact, some have slept together, sometimes in groups, or even traded wives or boyfriends.

Tonight women dominate the scene, outnumbering the men almost two to one. "The guys are more carefully curated," says Reid, a blond, tan surfer guy and professional sex educator who co-founded the party seven months ago. "It's a bad scene when you get some horny jerk in a space where women want to feel safe."

Once you get past this introduction (and the headline and the dim, cheesy make-out photos), the article is useful and informative:

...The term polyamory, literally meaning "many loves," is based on the idea that relationships can be conducted with multiple partners at the same time. Casual sex is allowed, but the focus is on bonds and feelings. And unlike the swinging culture of the '70s, it's not only about sex. "The point is to date more than one person with honesty, and give them the positive experiences and respect they deserve," says Diana.

Beyond that, the rules — how many, how much, how often — are up to you. "Some people have hierarchical structures, with primary, secondary, tertiary, etc.," says Tessa, a 34-year-old psychologist and New York native who is currently juggling four relationships, two of them long-distance. "I have multiple partners who are all equal — for now."...

Poly has particularly picked up recently among younger women. "Each meeting is a record breaker. The last was almost 70 people," says Birgitte Philippides, leader of Polyamorous NYC, the largest poly organization on the East Coast....

Simply having sex, however, isn't necessarily the goal. "The outside perception is that [poly] is about lots of partners. For me, it was just about having the option," says Marcia, who lives with Reid and considers him her primary....

Safety is a must: "Use latex with everyone," [Marcia] explains. "And we get tested every six months." Beyond that, they have general guidelines for choosing partners: "Don't pick up people who are high-maintenance or really needy. If you're afraid to say something, that means you need to say it. The main rule is 'no drama' — if you have emotional stuff, it's yours. No blame allowed."...

"[Poly] is trendy right now, and there are people doing it badly," says Marcia. "It's common who hear about people who cheated and got caught, and then said, 'Well, I'm poly, I need to do this.'"

As for the age-old question of marriage and children, poly women say their lifestyle lessens the anxieties surrounding the search for the One. "For me, it's about not wanting to reach my late 20s and suddenly be in a husband chase," says Diana. "I know I want to have a child eventually, but I don't want to spend all my time screening the perfect mate. Poly lets me try out more than one person at a time."

Still, poly is hardly an escape from the work of relationships — and it's not for those seeking an easier alternative....

Read the whole article (PDF image of the pages).

The author, Melissa Lafsky, talks on her blog about writing the piece:

It’s about New York women who practice polyamory (no, it’s not an exotic new kind of yoga). I doubt I’ll ever delve into the lifestyle for more than observational purposes (I can barely skirt the cliff of dysfunction in one relationship, let alone five) but I figured people who can keep multiple sexual/emotional bonds going at the same time without going all Son of Sam must have some wisdom to depart to the rest of us. And they do.

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