Atlanta Poly Weekend organizers in the news
Next month, polyfolks in Atlanta will convene the first-ever weekend polyamory convention in the heart of the Deep South (as far as I know). Atlanta Poly Weekend takes place March 25–27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Atlanta Airport. Its key organizer is Billy Holder of the triad Pocket, Billy and Jeremy, "PB&J". On Friday he got their triad, and the event, into the biweekly Georgia Voice, "the news outlet of record for the state’s LGBT communities and their allies".
Writes Billy, "This is the first ever interview I have done."
Is Atlanta a hotbed for polyamory?
By Dyana Bagby
Atlanta polyamorous scene growing.
[Billy] Holder was looking through a kitchen drawer searching for his barbecue tools. He was about to cook dinner for his wife, Melissa, and their boyfriend, Jeremy, following an afternoon at the park.
Holder and Melissa have been married 14 years and have two teens and a six-year old child. They live a polyamorous lifestyle — not to be confused with polygamy, which means marrying more than one person, or even “swinging,” because, they explain, polyamory is about love first, not sex. Generally, polyamory can be defined as open, honest non-monogamous relationships.
After watching [his] brother go through a horrible divorce, Holder said [he and Melissa] sat down to discuss ways to not ever let that happen to them. The answer was to form a new way of loving — to be open and honest about other lovers.
...While living in Georgia before his primary family moved here, Holder met Jeremy...at a camping festival.
“We clicked and I figured he would click with my wife,” Holder says. ‘No sneaking around, no lying, no cheating.’
Holder, who identifies as bisexual, introduced his wife to Jeremy two years ago. He has private — including sexual — time with Jeremy as well as with his wife. Melissa also has a sexual relationship with Jeremy. But all three are quick to point out that polyamory is not about being promiscuous.
“The biggest misconception is that love equals sex. You can completely love someone without having intercourse,” Holder says.
Jeremy lives in Alabama and visits Holder on the weekends and holidays. Jeremy also has a girlfriend in Alabama.
“We’re a lot more open. There is no sneaking around, no lying, no cheating, because having that level of communication is huge. Even for monogamous couples, having a strong level of open communication is important,” Holder says. “There’s nothing too big we can’t talk about.”
...Wanting to connect with more “poly” people in Georgia and Atlanta, especially with poly people with children, Holder founded [Atlanta Polyamory Meetup]. The group currently has 150 members and continues to grow, he said.
There is enough interest for the group to host the first annual Atlanta Poly Weekend March 25–27. The event includes speakers, workshops, [a steampunk band], and time to socialize.
One of those speakers is Dr. Elizabeth Sheff, an assistant professor at Georgia State University. Sheff focuses her research on sexuality, gender, family, deviance and communities. One area she specializes in is the poly (short for polyamorous) community, specifically a long-range study on polyamorous families with children.
While Atlanta may be a hotbed for polyamorous people, there is not a well-organized community as can be seen in cities like San Francisco or Seattle.
“For the life of me I can’t figure out why, especially because Atlanta is such a magnet for other sexual minorities. The kink scene, for example, is well developed. There is a well-established gay and lesbian community and a burgeoning transgender community,” she said.
Gay men do have non-monogamous relationships, she said, but they don’t consider it polyamorous.
“Gay men invented non-monogamy,” she said. [Elizabeth was surely joking, but the writer didn't get this across.]
Sheff remembers asking a gay friend who was in a long-term relationship with his boyfriend but who also had outside lovers why he didn’t consider himself poly. He told her, “We don’t need another label for something we’re already doing.”...
For another side of the coin, the article goes on to profile a monogamous black gay couple. "...Gates acknowledged he is the jealous type — something that has to be dealt with carefully in polyamorous relationships — and can’t imagine Aaron with someone else. He also wants to prove to the world that two black gay men can be in a loving relationship, something he says is not visible in society."...
Read the whole article (Feb. 4, 2010) [The excerpt above includes minor corrections/additions.] See also Atlanta Poly Weekend's Facebook page and Polyamory Southeast, which includes a list of other southeastern poly groups.
The organizers have taken a gamble by setting the conference price ambitiously low. Registration is $50, and rooms are $82 a night. To break even at that rate, Atlanta Poly Weekend will have to sell a large block of rooms that it has promised the hotel. I wouldn't want to be on the losing end of that bet. If you're coming, be sure to book a room in the "Atlanta Poly Weekend block," which gets you the special rate.
I'll be there. Hope to see you!
Poly Living East. Coincidentally, I'm writing this on the train home from the Poly Living Conference that was just put on by Loving More at a fine new hotel in Philadelphia. The weekend was a great success — excellent workshops and presentations, lots of the best-hearted people I know, old friends to reconnect with, new friends to discover, loving new-culture community, a nonsexual Cuddle Party, a decidedly sexual room party that people put together in a suite privately, lots of exchanging of life stories, advice, and email addresses. About 100 people registered, enough that Loving More broke even and then some. Loving More still faces cash-flow problems for the office, phones, and services it maintains year-round; it needs your membership.
I've already booked a spot at Loving More's next event in the East: its weekend conference/retreat at Easton Mountain north of Albany, New York, September 9th to 11th.