Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 6, 2008

Report on Poly Pride Weekend in New York

I just got back from the eighth annual Poly Pride Weekend in New York, by far the biggest yet. It was smashing, and everyone involved is incredibly energized right now. The folks at Polyamorous NYC pulled off five events, each a huge success.

** On Friday evening, as a fundraiser, Poly NYC sponsored what turned out to be the world's largest-ever official Cuddle Party, with 112 people attending at the LGBT Center in the West Village. A Cuddle Party (registered trademark) is a guided exercise in nonsexual touch, comfort, and kindness. Lying in an auditorium floored with mattresses, we listened to instructions on boundary-setting and -respecting, and then devolved into a big, relaxed, interlaced squiggle of hand-holding, hair-petting, massages, spoon-snuggling, and lively conversations for two hours. Watch the New York Post's fine video report on the event. (They filmed only those willing to go on camera.)

** The Poly Pride Rally and Picnic in Central Park lucked out with glorious weather Saturday afternoon from noon to 6. Professional drag-queen emcee Hedda Lettuce introduced a very full lineup of speakers (including me) and entertainers onstage. The crowd numbered about 200 at any one time, with quite a bit of coming and going as the hours went by. I met lots of old poly-community friends, and the extensive publicity that Poly NYC did this year brought an influx of newcomers as well. See photos by Minx.

** That night Poly NYC put on a very hip New York style dance-club party at River Place on the West Side, with a techno-house DJ and outrageous stage performers. This too was a fundraiser, and word is that it cleaned up. The place was jammed from 9 p.m. till 1 a.m.; maximum capacity was 300. This event certainly qualified Polyamorous NYC (whose animated logo was continuously projected on the wall) as one of New York City's hippest, coolest crowds to be in with, for anyone keeping score.

** Sunday saw people packing the independent, radical Bluestockings Bookstore in the East Village for readings and book-signings by many leading poly authors, including Tristan Taormino, Jenny Block, Pete Benson, Leanna Wolfe, Barbara Foster, and others.

** And then capping it off was the first National Polyamory Leadership Summit. This meeting was called by Polyamorous NYC to take advantage of all the poly activists who were in one place this weekend — to introduce people to each other, and to brainstorm ideas about directions we can take, projects we'd like to accomplish, and who can make them happen.

The meeting was by invitation only, with 34 attending. It was held around a ring of tables conference-room style (we even had name signs in front of us!) back at the LGBT Center. The three hours weren't nearly enough. But thanks to an aggressive professional meeting-runner, who does this for major corporations in her day job, it was the most productive meeting of any kind that I ever recall attending. No one made any pretense to represent the poly community as a whole or anyone not present. Instead, we came up with our own lengthy wish-list of resources to create and projects to start. Some of these will be taken on by Loving More, whose leaders were present. Other projects were paired up with competent volunteers capable of making them happen. You'll be seeing more about this in coming months.

More later--

Alan M.

Updates! Read Cunning Minx's blog reports about Poly Pride Day 1, Day 2, the Day 2 party, and Day 3. With links to pix and video. And listen to her Polyamory Weekly podcasts about the event: Part 1; Part 2.

Here is Beki's blog report.

Here's a short video clip of the Raven Schecter Trio performing at the rally. They're a poly triad of three funny Jewish gay guys in dreds. Cute enuf?

Poly Pride comedian and speaker Kelli Dunham blogs about the weekend.

So does The Sex Geek.

Here's an excellent long article on the event and its attendees in Chelsea Now, a New York neighborhood's weekly newspaper.

Nice report at Digital Journal.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks! It was a pleasure meeting you! And Minx, wow. And everyone else, I cannot begin (well, I did) to say what a great time I had. I hope everyone can go to Poly Pride in NYC in 2009 - you will love it! xo Beki

October 10, 2008 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that during the the leadership summit one of the goals discussed had to do with outreach on college campuses. This weekend I am giving a presentation on polyamory to student leaders working in the GBLT communities on their campuses. Do you know who I should tell them to contact if they are interested in working with the larger polyamorous community? I could also have a sign up sheet but I wouldn't know who to send it to. You can contact me through my blog. Thank you!

October 23, 2008 5:13 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I have trouble reconciling your statement that "No one made any pretense to represent the poly community as a whole or anyone not present" with your characterization of yourself as one of the "people with the original vision" who is "steering the poly bandwagon". Once you say that you are one of the people who are "steering", and want to have a meeting with other people who are "steerers", carefully excluding mere "followers" like me, it certainly sounds like you are trying to speak for others. Why do you consider this meeting of 23 people any more important than the talk I had about poly with a half-dozen friends last week? You characterize a group like the World Polyamory Association as having "rather idiosyncratic views"; I agree. But I also think that Loving More foundation has rather idiosyncratic views, that I don't share. And I'd bet that many of the things the 23 of you have decided to do are things I would not approve of. And I find your notion that you are "steering" the "poly movement", particularly in a way that can only be done by the 23 of you getting together, while making sure to exclued people of differing viewpoints, to be kind of offensive.

You said in the post I'm replying to that I would be hearing more about the resources these 23 people want to create, and the projects they want to start, in the coming months. I haven't actually heard anything about this (not through any fault of yours; one of the thing that people like you tend to forget is that there are lots of people like me, who have been practicing poly for over a decade, but are not "part of the poly community"); can you reply with a pointer to the information about these projects?

May 06, 2009 8:11 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Alan replies to PolyButDifferent:

After the October meeting, not much ended up happening for several months. The next meeting was at the beginning of March (after the Poly Living conference), with about 50 people attending. This one seems to have been more productive. A number of people proposed and actually volunteered to work on committees for various projects: creating a national online calendar of poly events and meetups, creating a Coming Out Project and perhaps a Poly Coming Out Day like the LGBT Coming Out Day, creating a TNG (The Next Generation) education/outreach project with speakers to do college tours, an outreach committee to educate therapists, psychologists, and other professionals, especially on campuses; helping Loving More get its website together, support for mono partners of poly people, fundraising and obtaining non-profit status, and other things. The meeting minutes still haven't been written up. Also, the group has renamed itself the Polyamory Leadership Network.

Just because these people are doing things -- which makes them, in fact, leaders -- doesn't mean that you or anyone has to follow. You seem to be thinking in what I call the "socialist model" of organizing. That is, some group votes to create a party line, and everyone is supposed to fall in behind it. Instead, this thing is happening by the "free enterprise model." That is, people who get what they think is a cool idea go out and do it and try to attract others to help. If other people think the idea is cool, they join in and it grows. If they don't, they don't, and it falls by the wayside.

This applies to leadership in ideas too. Anybody can blog and put out ideas. If other people like the ideas, they repeat them and the ideas spread. Ideas that don't appeal don't spread. Anybody can try. That's the free-enterprise model of leadership. Nobody can *make* others follow, and anybody who disagrees or feels left out can start an enterprise of their own.

(A danger is that people who are unable to create something themselves usually come out of the woodwork and try to take over any group or enterprise that visibly starts to succeed. "Unguarded treasure gets stolen." When a group starts to gain sparkly value, it does have to put up guards against this or it may wake up and find itself hijacked.)

Best wishes.

May 06, 2009 12:43 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

The particular things that the Poly Leadership conference is planning to do all seem like good things, and I'm glad you're doing them. If you want others to join you in doing these things, you should publicize them more; I know lots of people who would help with your efforts, but aren't helping because they don't know about them.

And I strongly agree with your model that no-one should be trying to dictate what should be done, and people should do the things that they find worth doing. The alternative view that a universal consensus should first be formed, and then everyone act according to that consensus has two crippling problems. The obvious one, of course, is that achieving this consensus s impossible, which is a recipe for paralysis. The more subtle one is that the pressure to form a consensus, or pretend one exists, leads to people feeling they must agree with the majority, or claim that majority beliefs are universal beliefs, and that's bad.

So that's why I had a strong negative reaction to your metaphor of "steering the poly bandwagon". There isn't a bandwagon, and there shouldn't be; there are only a bunch of people moving in their own individual directions. And that's a good thing. "Steering" is not just moving the way you want to move: it's getting other people to all move the same way, and the way you want to move, and that's a bad thing.

Working with people who have common goals to achieve those goals is a good thing. But if we have slightly different versions of the goals, then the model that you are the "leader" and I am the "follower", so your version should prevail, is a bad one. And the notion that you want to work out the goals in a private closed group, and are worried about the danger of your group being "taken over" as "unguarded treasure" sounds like falling into this trap, and would make me very hesitant to follow your lead or be involved in your group, even though we have very similar ideas about what should be done.

May 08, 2009 7:19 AM  

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