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

March 2, 2010

The PLN, the Polyamory Media Association, and some ideal TV

From time to time I've mentioned the Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN). This group got started in October 2008, when 34 poly-awareness activists met in New York to brainstorm ideas. Since then the PLN has held two additional "summit meetings" and has grown to 76 people.

Its members make no claim to represent anyone but themselves. Their common-denominator commitment, as thrashed out at the most recent summit, is simply "To promote acceptance of relationship choice." Most are already doing this in one way or another.

Membership in the PLN, however, is a bit selective and often happens by invitation. A high value is placed on people with a record of poly activism and a history of "playing well with others" in project-oriented groups. But if we haven't already noticed and invited you, and you'd like to collaborate in doing poly education and awareness work, you can ask me offlist for an application: alan7388 {at} gmail.com.

The Polyamory Media Association

One creation of the PLN is the new Polyamory Media Association (PMA). Its goal is to help out-and-proud polyfolks become skilled, effective spokespeople for themselves and for polyamory. The PMA also intends to become a resource for reporters, editors, and program directors who are seeking publicly out polys to profile or quote. Could this be you?

The PMA can also help to vet media offers that you receive for signs of trouble, or past histories of trouble, and can help you negotiate with reporters or producers on a more even basis. Its services are free and depend on volunteers.

That's an ambitious agenda. The PMA has been put together by Joreth, a longtime poly spokesperson and activist, with help from other volunteers. Here is its announcement press release to the poly community, just out yesterday afternoon:

Calling all Polyamorous Spokespeople, Activists, Community Leaders, and Out & Proud Polys!

March 1, 2010

Ever more news reports, articles, and television shows are highlighting poly families, and a surprisingly large number of them are showing us very favorably!

Have you ever wondered how those people got chosen -- when, perhaps, your family would have been perfect?

Have you ever been interviewed yourself, and watched or read it later and thought, "Hey, that's not what I said/meant!"?

Have you ever seen Terisa Greenan or Jenny Block on television and wished you could sound and look that polished, and that you could get your message across that clearly?

Introducing the Polyamory Media Association! We're a volunteer project of the Polyamory Leadership Network, collaborating with Loving More. Our goal is to bridge the gulf between the media and the polyamorous community. We offer media training to help you polish your own message and develop those skills necessary for navigating the waters of the media and entertainment industry.

We will not tell you what to say. You create your own message; we'll teach you how to say it. Our training is good for radio, television, and print interviews, for public speaking, for letter-writing, and for other proactive polyactivism.

Plus, we offer our free services as media screeners. We can help you vet reporters and shows so you can avoid problematic ones, negotiate with the rest on a more even basis, and make sure you're treated fairly. But the final decision is left up to you -- we will not filter or make decisions for you.

The Polyamory Media Association will also seek out the media to help them find you if you wish. By bringing together the polyamorous community and the media, we hope to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties -- when they share common goals.

So sign up today at www.PolyMediaAssociation.com and take advantage of the training materials and experience collected by those trailblazing polyamorists before you! Shortly after you sign up (completely free, and all information will remain confidential), you'll be given access to the Members portion of the website with all the benefits we have to offer.

We look forward to seeing you at the Polyamory Media Association!

Joreth InnKeeper
Director, PMA

Please pass this along to your lists, either the full text or the URL:

A Changing Climate

For years, many poly people have been skeptical of anything to do with the mainstream media, fearing that it will only sensationalize and misrepresent us. Occasionally we have indeed been treated sensationally or stupidly. (For instance). But these days that happens rarely, as regular readers here know.

And good media coverage matters. As I've said before, now that we're becoming widely known to the world, we are in a race to define who we are to the public before our opponents do it for us. So far we're winning.

An Example of Excellent TV Coverage

Television is the easiest medium to look bad on if you go into it untrained. The camera strips you bare and displays you the way you look to strangers, not the way you look to yourself or your friends. It can be brutal.

But if you don't think mainstream TV can do poly families justice, this recent four-minute report from German TV news will change your mind. To view the segment, click on the thumbnail of the three people; it's the second from the left. Never mind that it's overdubbed in German; the visuals communicate the message loud and clear. These three have done it before and knew how to handle reporters.

The PMA exists to help you look this good!

Big Demand

These days many writers and editors are seeking poly people to profile. In fact, there's a serious shortage of out, open polys to meet this demand. Many choose to stay private out of concerns — often justified — about upsetting their families of origin, or job security, or a hostile ex who might use polyness as ammunition in a child-custody battle. But if you can be out — and are reasonably presentable, articulate, self-disciplined, and ready to learn some skills and pointers — there is a great need for your story. And you'll have a number of opportunities to choose from.

For instance, the following comes from Jessica Bennett, who wrote the excellent Newsweek online article last July:

I'm working with a production company here in New York on developing a documentary TV series based on polyamory (as, apparently, is everybody these days!), and am in search of a poly family (or families) to profile.... I know many in the poly community are hesitant to talk to the media (and for good reason), but I'm hoping the Newsweek piece can speak to the kind of work I do. Thanks in advance! Jessica

Call for Participants: Poly Documentary

Hi there,

I'm the writer of the Newsweek piece on polyamory that appeared a few months back. I'm working with a New York-based production company, Myriad Entertainment, on developing a documentary TV program based on polyamory, and am in search of poly families to profile. What we're looking for are families with 3+ partners, between the ages of 20s-50s, who are committed to the lifestyle and may help debunk the stereotype of the poly community as an outlier.

Geography is flexible (within the U.S.), though a group whose partners live together or within driving distance is preferable. The biggest requirement, of course, is that the group be out and open, willing to talk honestly about their relationship, and is comfortable putting themselves out there for what could potentially be a large audience. We would film on location in the your home/city, and there would be compensation for the project.

As somebody who has written on polyamory in the past, I'm well aware of the sensationalist portrayal the community has often suffered at the hands of the media, and hope the Newsweek story speaks to the kind of open and fair portrayal we hope to present. To tell you a little bit about us, I'm an award-winning journalist (originally from Seattle) covering cultural trends, LGBT issues, women and sexuality. My co-producer is Jennifer Molina, an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker with more than a decade of experience, at the Sundance Channel, the United Nations and Newsweek. (Jenn produced the two videos that were featured with the Newsweek article, about the lovely Greenan family.) Together, we are working Veronique Bernard and Lisa Zeff, two highly regarded industry vets who recently teamed up to launch Myriad. Zeff was the former GM of ABC News Productions, and Bernard is a former production and development executive who's worked everywhere from National Geographic to the New York Times.

If you're interested in participating, or know anybody who might be, we'd love to hear more about your family and setup. We can be reached directly at polydocu@gmail.com, and you can check out mine and Jenn's porfolios and reels at www.jessbennett.net and www.rinkdproductions.com, respectively. The Newsweek story, if you haven't seen it, is viewable at http://www.newsweek.com/id/209164. Please note that this project is not affiliated with Newsweek in any way.

Thanks for reading.

Jessica Bennett

Also: Anita Wagner, a member of Loving More's board of directors who runs the Practical Polyamory blog, has checked out, endorsed, and is passing around an appeal from a well-known mainstream women's magazine looking for an FMF vee.

Loving More has been receiving many additional requests.




Blogger Anita Wagner said...

The triad in the video looks very familiar to me - they did indeed do a great job!

March 02, 2010 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't insult our intelligence.

If you call yourselves the "Polyamory Leadership Network", then you most definitely are claiming to represent somebody besides yourselves. You are calling yourselves leaders of a community. People will take you to speak for the community, and you know that, and you intentionally encourage it.

Basically, you've decided that you're going to be the people who define the word "polyamory" and its associations in the public mind... and that anybody who wants to identify with that word had better accept your doing so.

Don't try to kid us, or yourself, about what you're doing.

March 03, 2010 10:02 AM  
Blogger Alan said...


It's a free country; anyone can speak up for their ideas and passions in public. In that sense, those who don't speak up will find themselves being represented by those who do, by default. So there is some truth in what you say.

But we've been clear from the start that by "leadership" we mean, "People who do good stuff off their own bat without waiting for someone else." And the "network" has proved to be just that: people networking to meet each other and advance their projects.

March 03, 2010 4:05 PM  
Blogger Anita Wagner said...

Well said, Alan. Everyone I know in PLN is hard at work for free in their spare time to help make things better for poly people. I stopped listening to that tired old "how dare you claim to represent ME?" long ago, actually about a dozen years ago when someone flung it at me for the first time for having the gall to start a local poly group. Oh ye of meager spirit!

March 03, 2010 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you people call yourselves leaders and start groups and write resources and bring people together! It's much easier to be a maligned minority when everyone isn't banding together and demanding public acceptance with their solidarity!

The word and its definition existed before I chose it as a label. I chose it because it fit. Now I'm just making sure that no one else hijacks the word and uses it as a club to beat us over the head with it.

You don't have to follow where I lead, but others are happy for those of us willing to blaze the trail for them, so it won't be as difficult for those who come afterwards.

March 04, 2010 3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same anonymous here.

I complained about people speaking for others while claiming not to do so. If you're going to take on something like that, then you should have the guts to admit that you're doing it. That's called responsibility.

I was very careful not to object to anybody simply trying to be a leader, or even to anybody speaking for polyamory as a whole. That was because I'm not sure what my opinion is. Probably I don't care that much, as long as you're open about it.

It sounds like I've hit a nerve, though. People read something into my comment that wasn't there, and responded vehemently. That's usually a sign of insecurity.

There are people who find the "polyamorous" label very important. They really identify with a real or imagined community around it. Not all of them want to fool around with activism or theory or even munches. Nonetheless, if you're going to speak for those people, it behooves you to approach the project with respect.

For me, personally, it's not that important how y'all want to define the label. I'm not a joiner. I use "polyamorous" at the moment because it more or less fits. If it stops fitting, I'll stop using it. That will be only a minor inconvenience. I've been around long enough to remember a lot of arguments over what the word means. I've also been around long enough to have used other labels that fit less well, and I've explained myself with no label. Neither was that big a deal.

If "polyamorous" stops fitting me, it won't be the PLN that causes it, anyway. It'll be casual use that redefines "polyamory" to include "cheating". Random writers are already trying to look hip by using the word, and they're not interested in fine distinctions.

I do not, by the way, disagree with much of the substance that I hear from people associated with the PLN. Maybe there's a little tendency to throw "scary", or "icky" people under the bus, but even that's not bad compared to what you see in other similar groups. Frankly, the only "poly issue" I give a damn about is not having families destroyed legally, and I don't think I have big differences with any PLN members over that.

But I care a lot about the honesty issue.

March 04, 2010 11:47 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I have to agree with Anonymous. On the one hand you say that "Its [the PLN's] members make no claim to represent anyone but themselves." Two paragraphs further down, it states that The PLN's "...goal is to help out-and-proud polyfolks become skilled, effective spokespeople for themselves and for polyamory."

OK, so you're not claiming to be spokespeople for the "poly community" (I disagree that there actually is a discrete poly community, but that's a separate argument entirely), but you are claiming to help others become exactly that; this sounds like you you are wanting to speak for the poly community, albeit by proxy.

As Willy Wonka rightly pointed out, "You should say what you mean and mean what you say." :)

April 13, 2010 1:42 PM  

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