Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 30, 2008

Web Comic Presents Excellent Poly Saga


Two years ago I rounded up some web comics treating polyamory. Even now that post keeps getting hits.

So here's another. The long-running "Fans!" has begun a storyline exploring a new-forming triad, complete with Heinlein and Wonder Woman references. It's a flashback explaining how three key characters got together. It helps to know who they are: flamboyant emo goth bondage girl with heart of gold, maybe; sweet little anime artist, a runaway from Japan; all-American Christian college kid, thinks he's Archie. Pick it up from here, and keep clicking the forward arrow. The first three pages are pre-flashbacks to set the mood for each character. God knows where this is heading.

But the artist knows what he's doing. As the story develops he's touching one poly reality base after another.

(Warning, bits may be slightly NSFW. Here's the artist's fan forum. Here's day one, long ago and far away. An' thanks to Anyee f' th' tip!)

Update: If you want to make sense of the June 4th strip, "Home," the first three panels (with their earlier drawing styles) are flashbacks:
(Thanks to AvalonXQ for the tip.)

Update: It just gets better. The storyline reaches its end on June 29th, having completed the tale. Rikk with a beard means that we've jumped forward to present time.

This'll be a poly-comic classic. Pass it on.

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May 17, 2008

"Ik hou van twee mannen"
("I love two men")

Nederland 1 TV

This one got by me when it appeared. The first-ever TV report on polyamorie in the Netherlands (according to a tribe poster who lives there) aired on February 14th, on EénVandaag (Channel 1 Today). The report is more than 7 minutes long and looks wonderful, with happy, glowing people who make me want to go live there — though they might as well be speaking Sumerian. Watch the show (may require Internet Explorer or a Firefox plug-in).

One of the stars is Ageeth Veenemans, a poly activist now becoming known in the English-speaking world. She runs the big, busy Polyamorie Nederlandse website, which has also a smaller English edition. The Dutch site includes links to many recent mass-media articles about poly in Dutch and other European languages. Clearly I've been missing most of them!

(By the way, you can view a rough English translation of most foreign-language websites by using Google Language Tools.)

Veenemans has published a book, Ik Hou Van Twee Mannen, now in its third printing, which she hopes to get published in English, Spanish, and German. She sends out a free monthly newsletter.

About her book, Veenemans writes:

When I discovered polyamory on the internet, I knew: “This is what I want!” It turned out to be possible: to have two simultaneous love relationships without lying and deceit. And I discovered I am not alone in wanting two loves. Why had I not found out earlier? Polyamory was unknown in The Netherlands. There was no Dutch literature.

I started to write in September 2004. I am convinced that polyamory may be a good alternative for others, too. It saved my marriage.

In writing my book and by participating in a [Dutch] polyamory forum on the internet, I overcame my inhibitions. I learned to talk about what had been the unspeakable for four years, which was, that I had fallen in love with two men and that I wanted to express it.

Also: Pieter Schultz has created a huge resource list in Dutch, polyamorie.startpagina.nl, with much content in English. It includes a big list of European poly groups and sites by country.

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May 16, 2008

Sex Geek dazzled by full poly triad

Capital Xtra

Andrea Zanin, Canada's self-described Sex Geek and a prominent queer writer and activist, has landed in an equilateral triad and enthuses about it in the cover story of this week's Capital Xtra, the gay/queer paper of staid old Ottawa:

I moved in with my partner in Toronto, but at Unholy Harvest I hooked up with somebody else. That has become a rather serious relationship as well. Then just recently my two partners become lovers. Now we're a triad; it's beautiful and rewarding and — wow. It's taking lots of communication because it's challenging in how to manage it. But that communication is deepening the relationships.

See the whole article (May 14, 2008. The ads may be Not Safe For Work).

And that cover photo? "It was quite a last-minute rush to recruit all the owners of the hands that appear in it," Zanin writes in her Sex Geek blog, "but we all had tons of fun contorting ourselves in my living room to show the hands without the people. Good times!"

Zanin presents popular workshops on non-monogamy. See her Ten Realistic Rules for Good Non-Monogamous Relationships.

Also in the same issue of Capital Xtra: Can We Get Rid of Canada's Polygamy Laws?

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May 14, 2008

More women's mags describe poly marriage

Glamour, Marie Claire

Not just the June Redbook (see previous entry), but the June issues of Glamour and Marie Claire pile on too with upbeat bits about open marriage. Each of the two gives a cameo appearance to Jenny Block, whose memoir Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage is about to hit bookstores. From Glamour:

...Block: The divorce rate is 50 percent. A lot of people are unhappy in monogamy and cheating anyway. If no one comes forward about open marriage, it'll never be seen as normal.

Glamour: You're not jealous?

Block: Sometimes, but I've learned jealousy is something we create to "own" our partner. We think one person should be everything romantically and sexually.

Glamour: Are you saying we should all try open relationships?

Block: Not at all. I'm prescribing that we all try honest ones.

In Marie Claire: "Three's a Crowd? Maybe Not."

...Q: So why an open marriage?

A: My husband and I got married to take care of each other, to love and support one another, have a kid together. Having sex with other people in no way affects my ability or my desire to have that.

...Q: What's your relationship with your girlfriend like?

A: She's basically like my best friend, only sometimes I sleep with her.

...Q: What do you tell your 9-year-old daughter?

A: I tell her I'm staying at my girlfriend's house. She doesn't know we're hooking up. And eventually, she'll just learn that's how things work in our house. When she asks, we'll just say, "Everybody chooses to live and love and put together their families in different ways. This is how we put together ours."

Says Block about all this notice, "We're getting more mainstream than I ever dreamed would be possible this soon!" She asks in her book-tour newsletter, "Is polyamory the new black?"


Incidentally: Quite a few couples say their marriages have been enhanced and eased by being, as it turned out, "theoretically open" or "theoretically poly." That is, they've agreed that it's okay to develop other relationships, but neither spouse has yet felt a reason to do it. This situation is explored in an interesting Blowfish essay by Greta Christina, The Joys of Theoretical Non-Monogamy, and in its subsequent comments from readers:

I have found that non-monogamy is a tremendously valuable asset to our relationship... even when neither of us does much of anything about it. The main advantage of non-monogamy isn’t necessarily all the wild monkey sex you get to have with all the hot babes. For me, the main advantage of non-monogamy is that it makes the issue of Other People pretty much a non-issue.

When I was in monogamous relationships... Other People were always an issue. Is my partner having sex with someone else? Are they flirting with someone else? Do they think that other person is more attractive than me? Should I be worried about what they’re doing? Am I worrying over nothing? Am I deluding myself into believing there’s nothing to worry about when really there is?...

But when you’re not monogamous, the Gothic soap opera vanishes like a bad dream in daylight.

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May 12, 2008

Redbook profiles the Wet Spots' marriage


In an article titled "The State of Our Unions," one of the most respected womens' magazines (circulation 2.4 million) profiles young marriage, old marriage, long-distance marriage, covenant marriage, same-sex marriage — and polyamorous marriage, right up there with the rest. "Polyamorous Marriage" is the section's title.

For this the magazine chose the Vancouver comedian couple Cass King and John Woods. They're shown in a bed looking like Mr. and Mrs. Upscale Normal (with a third male leg sticking out from under), but in real life they're The Wet Spots — a bawdy sex-positive act for whom "normal" is a gag line. Seriously, though, they discuss their marriage and its meaning to them:

...We got married five years ago because we love each other and we knew that we wanted to make a lifelong commitment to each other. But being polyamorous means that we can also express the fullness of our love and affection for our friends and lovers without restriction.

...It's funny how it's easily understood that my love for my aunties doesn't diminish my love for my mother, but it's less acceptable to say that my love for my boyfriend doesn't diminish my love for my husband. It's like somehow the sex changes everything, confers an ownership on my love and on my body. I don't believe in that. Polyamory offers us so many opportunities for emotional growth. We live as strong, fulfilled individuals, and we have more to bring to the relationship because of it. Every day we choose to be together.

The article in the June 2008 issue. Here is the poly section.

In June the article was republished on MSN Lifestyle.

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May 7, 2008

"Head of 'Polyamory' Group Discusses Multiple Partners"

Hartford Courant

Robyn Trask, director of Loving More, gets interviewed about how she originally found her way into a poly life.

...While polygamy involves having more than one spouse, Trask's group, which has 1,500 active members, including some in Connecticut, supports polyamory: having multiple loves of either sex with or without marriage.

...Trask herself has practiced polyamory for 18 years and has three children. She has one primary relationship now with a man in Colorado and secondary relationships with a man in New York and another in Hong Kong, each of whom have relationships with others.

Q: So how did you become polyamorous?

A: I was 23 or 24 when I really came to acknowledge that I wasn't a monogamous person.... I always thought that monogamy was what I had to do. I tried to, but I didn't do it very well. I always fell in love with more than one person.

Finally, I came to terms with it. I wasn't monogamous. I wasn't going to be.... I didn't want to lie anymore. That's how I came to polyamory myself. I didn't have a term for it; I didn't have a community; I didn't know there was any help.

...Q: Did you ever worry about spreading disease?

A: People in the community are extremely conscientious about being safe and careful and practicing safe sex.

...Q: How do polyamorists deal with jealousy?

A: Very carefully. The truth is that one of the things that we try to teach people is that jealousy is not this big monster. It really is just another emotion. It's usually about ourselves, about our own insecurities. It can be a good teacher for us. It's about our fear: I'm going to lose this person. What happens if I do? Will I be OK?

Or it can be envy. Envy is my big issue. I don't want to be left out. When my partner goes out on a hot date, I make sure I have something to do because it helps me. I don't have a problem with it at all if I have something else to do....

Read the whole article (May 7, 2008). And leave a comment.

The interview struck me as choppily edited, but it gets the message across: This can be done, and done truly well if handled right, and there's a big community to turn to for advice and support.

The article was followed by a hostile letter to the editor (May 14):

...How disappointing that Ms. Trask dealt with her failed efforts to be monogamous in past relationships by "coming to terms with it" and embracing polyamory. Conclusion: If it seems too hard to do the right thing, do the wrong thing, advertise it, create support groups to help others take the same road and try to make it an acceptable lifestyle. Shame on The Courant for helping her to advertise by featuring this article....

You can leave a comment to the letter.


May 4, 2008

"Polyamory: The New Monogamy?"

Huffington Post

Dr. Belisa Vranich is a psychologist much in the public eye. In her Huffington Post column, she waves the flag for poly and swinging:

...Before you start your nasty email to me, calling me a home-wrecking "whore with a pen" who wants your husband, let's make it clear that I am writing this in response to hundreds of my clinical patients over the years who have been in my office asking if it's normal to be monogamous. "Why is it so hard?" they ask.... My personal opinion is irrelevant, really. We discuss boundaries, truth, guilt, safety, respect....

I talked about this with Neil Cavuto on Fox TV, who sneered at my answer that "it's better to have a truthful relationship, where both people are happy, and that is not monogamous, than one that is supposedly monogamous but is full of lies and guilt."

...Sites like Adultfriendfinder.com and Passion.com actually have their fair percentage of singles looking for another single who doesn't mind cutting out the anticipation of not knowing genital anatomy size... In the name of science and being up on my pop culture, I logged on. If only our voting system could have a small percentage of the organization, rules, and clarity of these relationships! "Have some manners and call or write my wife the next day" lists one man in a couple who swing together.... "If you don't have basic hygiene down, don't bother emailing me." ...Plenty of married men and women state staunchly, "I'm married and happy, not planning to leave my significant other."... In most, I'm glad to see, condoms and safe sex aren't a question, they often a non-negotiable.

Is there a darker flip side to this, one where sexual addiction takes over or significant others find those cams and want a divorce? I'm sure. But many many other scenarios exist. "A guy I met last night has been happily married for 14 years," my patient quipped. "That is more than anyone I know!"... She ends the session asking rhetorically, "Once you go polyamorous, can you ever go back? Do you want to?"

Don't shoot the messenger. Again, I don't want to sleep with your husband, or wife, or both.

Read the whole article (May 4, 2008). She doesn't make much distinction between poly and semi-random hookups, to my eye.

May 2, 2008

"Portrait of an Open Marriage, Take Two"

Tango magazine

"I have gotten in the habit of calling my relationship with my husband an open marriage, strictly for lack of a better term," writes Jenny Block in the current Tango magazine (which bills itself as "smart talk about love"). Block has written a followup article there to her "Portrait of an Open Marriage" two years ago. Her book stemming from that first article, Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage, is being published this month by Seal Press.

...But it wasn’t until I met Jemma that I started calling it polyamorous for one very simple reason. I love her. When I started seeing her, my heart expanded just like when someone has a second child.... What a great word. Polyamory. Many loves. Who wouldn’t want that? Of course, I could hardly believe it was possible myself until I was in it.

Wouldn’t I fall out of love with my husband? Wouldn’t it be a scheduling disaster? What will my kid think?... The truth is I love Christopher as much now as ever. Nothing, not even scheduling, is a burden when it comes to love. Emily, my daughter, thinks Jemma is my best friend, nothing more and nothing less. And she is.

...I discovered there are a whole lot of people out there in open and swinging and poly and other “alternative” lifestyles. And, the ones I know anyway, have proven to be thoughtful, kind, intelligent people who are trying to figure out their way in the world just like anyone else.

Read the whole article. And here's a video of Jenny talking about it.

Tango's website also has a short video clip of a couple on a date being interviewed about poly in Grand Central Station. He's gung ho; she sounds more cautious.

Also on the magazine's site is "Open Marriage: One Man's Surprising Take":

Our household runs on rational thought. Our feelings, just like everyone else’s, have little to do with rational thought. This is an enormous barrier to communication, but if you can figure out how to surmount it, then you’re in a very good place.

We communicate constantly, and to be quite honest, our external “affairs” are few and far between. Having the freedom to have emotions, on the other hand, has made this one of the easiest and best relationships I’ve ever been in. The honesty was specified up front, the trust built on that, and we have been quite happy for over 7 years now.

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May 1, 2008

Loving More magazine is back

The polyamory world is loaded with websites, discussion lists, blogs, a first-rate podcast — we're on top of the new media. We have several how-to books, and more are coming soon. And we've been getting remarkably good notices in mainstream media, as chronicled here.

However, we have only a single print medium of our own: Loving More magazine.

A new issue of Loving More is just out: Issue #38, more than a year after the last one. Nominally a quarterly, Loving More has had a spotty schedule in the last five years due to two ownership changes and a shortage of money and staff. But now the magazine seems to be getting back on track. The current issue is full of fine articles not available on the web. The next issue is nearly full already, and it's scheduled to go to the printer in July.

The Loving More organization became a nonprofit recently and will pursue grant money once its tax exemption is prepared and filed; this process is nearly complete. Meanwhile it is barely scraping by on income from its seminars and retreats (when these make money rather than lose it), subscriptions and memberships, and donations. Mostly it has been surviving on the flat-out efforts by director Robyn Trask and her partner (and board member) Jesus Garcia. They are organizing and running events, producing the magazine, handling media requests, and answering the many calls for help and advice from the public. Without Robyn in particular, Loving More would not have survived.

Now, with an active board of directors, an expanding Board of Advisors, and growing confidence among donors (including me), Loving More is looking to a strong future. It is the only credible polyamory education and support group on the horizon. It deserves and needs your support.

For one thing, most of the positive media coverage that polyamory has gotten in the last three years — those mainstream articles and appearances that are helping clarify what we're about to your skeptical aunt in Oshkosh — have happened directly or indirectly because of Loving More's efforts.

Even in the new-media era, a print magazine is a powerful identity-building and community-building tool. It's also an essential way to distill, disseminate, and preserve our stuff. And we certainly need a nonprofit education and advocacy group. If you're reading this blog, the magazine deserves your readership and the organization deserves your donation.

Volunteers are also needed, a website expert in particular.

Some of what's in the current issue:

Sensitive advice on dealing with your unsupportive birth family, from a guy raised arch-conservative who admits he used to think with his fists.

A triad member on her experiences with proper metamour-introducing etiquette, including the cat pee crisis.

Is polyamory a prescription for planetary peace? You can make love and war, but anthropologists find that worldwide, cultures good at one tend to shun the other. Same among apes. Matriarchies in particular.

Polyamory trailblazer Deborah Anapol ruminates on what comes afterward — and on the still-elusive nature of love after all these poly years. Has our community gotten sidetracked somewhere along the way?

Group marriage and spiritual practices in the Komaja intentional community in Croatia. This community is becoming an increasing tourist destination for Western Europeans.

Multipartnering is as old as the human race — so do we threaten mundane civilization or don't we? "Polyamory is radical and new because at its core people are looking at what is real and learning to be honest about it." Yup, sounds like a threat to me.

A spiritual Tantra-teaching couple finds fun and happiness at swing conventions. Put away your stereotypes.

It's a fine afternoon's read.