Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 10, 2012

All polyfamily warmth and cuddles on NatGeo TV

The National Geographic Channel

UPDATE: The show re-aired January 24th, according to the National Geographic Channel's schedule. It will air again on January 31st at 6 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.


Would you and your polyfamily dare to be followed around and filmed by the National Geographic for a show called "Odd Couples," on a cable series called "Taboo," which is about weird anthropological practices worldwide?

An equilateral triad family in the San Francisco area, who have lived and loved as a household for 17 years and are raising a teenager, gave the NatGeo series a very careful look, saw quality beneath the titillating surface, and decided that it was worth the risk.

And damn, they were right.

The show, filmed last June, aired this evening (Jan. 10, 2012). What a sweet portrayal it turned out to be, from start to finish! Cuddly kindness and family warmth; intelligence and thoughtfulness — and such a steady smooth flow was evident among these people after their many years together. There was some mostly good commentary by a few talking-head experts (Peter Singer, Helen Fisher, Elisabeth Sheff). The 15-year-old in particular was articulate, perceptive, and proud to have so many good parental figures. The show went on for nearly 20 minutes including commercial breaks. It ended with them making a trip to Redwood Forest National Park (above), where they have an annual ritual of renewing their wedding vows.

The adults on the show, Dany, Lon and Troy, had been on pins and needles about how the editing would be done. They need not have worried!

The tone was far warmer and more thoughtful than the voiceover of the 3-minute preview that NatGeo put up three weeks ago.

The show is not online yet and probably won't be until NatGeo is finished running reruns. The poly part was the second of three 20-minute segments making up the 1-hour show. It will get my "The Best" and "Show Your Parents" tags — assuming your parents are not the type to drop dead at seeing a three-way kiss and a lot of serious group snuggles.

Congratulations to everyone involved. That was a brave gamble, and you won.


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Anonymous Dawn Davidson said...

Ah, I see. The text under the still photo in your previous post explains the confusion. Dany (then Dawn) and Troy were married 25 years ago. *8 years LATER* they met Lon. So that means the three of them have been together in some form or another for 25-8 = 17 years. That makes a lot more sense. :)

SO glad it turned out well! Thanks for the report, Alan! Now I can hardly wait to see it, which I'll do tomorrow at the East Bay Poly Potluck and Discussion Group. Yay!

January 11, 2012 12:35 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

> So that means the three of them
> have been together in some form
> or another for 25-8 = 17 years.



January 11, 2012 8:45 AM  
Blogger Natja's Natterings said...

Much relieved Alan. I can't wait until I can access it over here in the UK.

January 11, 2012 9:12 AM  
Blogger Skeeter Sanders said...

Wow. The fact that you used the term "equilateral triad" confirmed what I thought when I watched the preview video: That Dawn's two husbands, Dany and Troy, are bisexual and are as much in love with each other as they are with Dawn.

For a mixed-gender poly triad to be a truly equilateral triangle, two of the three partners in that triad have to be bisexual, otherwise, it's a vee.

This is the first time to my knowledge that the media has ever profiled a mixed-gender bi-poly triad in which it's the men who are bisexual. And, in my opinion, it's long overdue. In all the previous mentions of poly triads in the media that I've seen or read about, the partners profiled were either exclusively heterosexual or it was the women who were bisexual.

As a bi-poly male, it bothers me that bi men remain largely invisible in the poly community. Why is that?

January 13, 2012 4:43 PM  
Blogger Skeeter Sanders said...

OOPS! I meant to refer to Troy and Lon as being bi. My mistake.

January 13, 2012 4:55 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

> For a mixed-gender poly triad to be a
> truly equilateral triangle, two of the
> three partners in that triad have to be
> bisexual, otherwise, it's a vee.

Not to quibble about words or anything, but a vee means there's a loose, casual, or no connection between the two ends. A triad implies that there's an intimate, life-sharing connection all around -- but it does not have to be sexual! I know triads of straight people who would really bristle at being mischaracterized as a vee.

Intimate, emotional nonsexual relationships were something the Victorians, for all their faults, really got. The modern world has kind of lost track of that, and some poly people are surprised to rediscover it.

(Actually, I guess the world hasn't list track of it completely if the word "bromance" can catch on as it has....)


January 14, 2012 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skeeter - The triad is Dany (f), Lon (m) and Troy (m). All three of us identify as bisexual.

Do not confuse Dany (who used be named Dawn) with Dawn Davidson. Two entirely separate people, even though they both appear in the film.

Dany and Dawn used to date (when they were both named Dawn).

And yes, we all married to each other. And yes, the phobia of bi-men is certainly part of the problem in the way the media handles things. Some viewers of the segment actually complained on Twitter about NatGeo showing Lon & Troy kissing.


January 17, 2012 11:25 PM  
Anonymous RobR919 said...

^Which is silly people would complain about that, especially compared to the scenes that followed in the next segment about the closeted married Australian guy in the bathhouses! Geez, people.

Overall, I was impressed with these three and happy I got to see it. :-)

January 18, 2012 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Daw said...

Alan: I usually use "Triad" to mean a three-way relationship with sexual bonds all the way around, though I agree that it is often used to mean any sort of three-way relationship where there is commitment and/or emotional connection all the way around. The issue of where to draw the line between "Vee" and "Triad" highlights yet again how concerned with sex our culture is! A relationship almost doesn't exist unless there's a sexual component, in the eyes of the mainstream.

As another example, when I met Akien (my almost-ex), he was in an MFM three-way relationship, living a few blocks from me. Akien was staying with the woman at the time, and the man involved was my (platonic) housemate. Akien has often described it as being a SEXUAL relationship with the woman at the hinge of the V, but an EMOTIONAL relationship with the other man at the hinge of the V. In other words, the two men did not have sex with one another, but each had sex with the woman. However, the woman was emotionally invested in her relationship with the other man... but not so much with Akien at the time (though they had dated previously.) However, Akien and the other man developed a non-sexual "bromance" to use the modern terminology, and became very supportive of one another in emotional and other ways, much as one might see in a "typical" live-in triad.

It can be difficult to explain to "the outside world" how polyamorous relationships work, in part because of this bias toward only sexual relationships "counting." My experience has been that one of the important aspects of polyamory for me is that I can have a variety of relationships at a variety of "levels," and sexuality might *or might not* be a part of that. This renders my relationships more fulfilling, but way less amenable to being turned into a sound-bite. ;)

January 19, 2012 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so bummed i don't get the national geographic channel...i would really love to watch the full episode. hopefully it shows up online sometime...

January 24, 2012 10:38 PM  
Blogger Skeeter Sanders said...

With all due respect to Alan and to Daw, the key word in describing the triad between Dany, Lon and Troy is "equilateral."

So allow me to clarify my earlier comment. I remember from my high-school geometry class that an equilateral triangle is one with three equal sides.

As I interpret it, an equilateral polyamorous triad means a TOTAL relationship -- social, emotional AND sexual -- between all three partners in that triad relationship.

By that definition, a same-gender equilateral triad -- between three women or between three men -- is pretty much self-explanatory.

But for a mixed-gender triad -- between a woman and two men or between a man and two women -- that is totally equilateral socially, emotionally AND sexually, sexual equilateralism is impossible unless the two same-gender partners in that triad are bisexual.

I hope that my clarification helped.

January 28, 2012 3:38 PM  

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