"Strange Sex" freak show portrays polys beautifully
"Jaiya, Jon, and Ian have lived polyamorously for two years. But when Jaiya has Ian's baby, can they raise a baby together?"
That was the teaser for a 14-minute segment on TLC's new "Strange Sex" series last night (July 25, 2010). The series is a freak show; other scheduled topics include orgasms during childbirth, balloon fetishes, and "can doctors help a young mother who can't stop herself from urinating on her husband during intercourse?"
Nevertheless, the "Two Boyfriends and a Baby" segment was the very picture of a respectful, insightful, beautiful poly documentary.
I watched it. Jaiya and Jon met during their Tantra-teacher training and agreed to an open relationship when they got together. After a few years, they welcomed in Ian. For the last two years they've all lived together in a gorgeous California house and are raising Jaiya and Ian's year-old baby. Jaiya really wanted a baby, Jon had cold feet, so she had it with Ian. There's a hint that this situation was difficult at the time, but what we mostly see is the two men assisting in the home birth and the three of them now playing with the happy, crawly kid on the rug. Jaiya explains the easier-than-usual child care schedule with three parents. "The love is just exponential," says Ian. "It's just — wow."
The scene often cuts to a sensible, well-informed psychologist who explains that polyamory is a unique form of non-monogamy because it is based on honesty, love, and serious relationships. She describes the requirements that it places on everyone for even better communication than in good couple relationships, and some of its difficulties and benefits.
Says Ian: "None of us had a model for this growing up. It's working. But why is it working?"
Jaiya is gorgeous and articulate, a natural TV star. The men are strong, good looking, middle- and late-middle-aged professionals; you might peg Ian as a college teacher and Jon as a company president who spends a lot of time in the gym. Where did TLC find them? Do any readers here know the backstory?
The segment will surely show up in reruns (check the Strange Sex schedule; look for "Two Boyfriends and a Baby"). It's not yet free online.
A writer for Chicago Now (owned by the Chicago Tribune) got to preview the show and wrote,
[Jaiya and Jon are] a couple that met and immediately felt an instant connection to each other, forging a seemingly normal relationship. However, the twist here? Jaiya expresses to her partner that she is polyamorous and believes in multiple -- yet committed -- relationships.
A few years later, enter Ian, the man that will soon become the third point in this love triangle. And, as we come to learn, each man has his own sexual relationship with Jaiya. They live under one roof and we get a picture that they function as normally as they can. It's, as the show points out, a very specific lifestyle, that requires willing and trusting parties all around.
Truth is, this story really piqued my interest. I'm extremely conventional in my approach, so this was a tricky one to digest. I mean, it's not like casually dating a few different people. It's taking a committed relationship and saying that it's OK to have that same connection and emotional involvement with someone else. That's one I couldn't even imagine!
...After getting this little taste, I can honestly say two things: (1) The [Strange Sex] show, despite telling unusual sexual stories, definitely aims to establish a sense of normalcy to an otherwise hard-to-understand situations and (2) it offers a great deal of education about human sexuality.
Update, November 2010: Jaiya gives an interview on how her poly household handles money and financial issues: Polyamory And Money – Miss Jaiya Explains, in Out of the Storm News ("a new web publication of the Heartland Institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate"), November 17, 2010.