One day before primary, big poly article appears in Florida Republican country
The Tampa-Orlando axis is not a stronghold of alternative culture. This morning it's in the national news as being the home to nearly half of Florida's Republicans. But it has had an active poly social scene for many years, thanks in part to Shara Smith, Franklin Veaux, and others in and around their network.
Today, the day before the crucial Florida Republican primary, Smith forms the lead to a 1,300-word feature article in the Tampa Bay Times about polyamory and why it is not like Newt Gingrich.
The Tampa Bay Times is the region's largest newspaper and has influence beyond its size. It was named the St. Petersburg Times until one month ago, and under that name it long earned a reputation as one of the country's best newspapers.
Coming on the eve of the primary, with Gingrich plummeting in the Florida polls (especially among women), the article's timing is surely no coincidence. The paper is rubbing his nose in his mess, using the local poly movement with its emphasis on high ethics as a foil to make him look bad by comparison.
I think this is the first time we've ever been used as a political football in a good way for us. (Usually we're used as a warning of the chaos supposedly looming beyond gay marriage.)
Still, I was rooting for anybody to take down the insufferable Mitt Romney. I'm from Massachusetts where Romney used to be governor; 'nuff said.
Polyamorists Say They're Not Like Newt
By Leonora LaPeter Anton
Shara Smith has three boyfriends, two in Tampa, one in Portland. Her Portland boyfriend has half a dozen "partners," including Shara. Her Tampa boyfriends are dating not only her but each others' wives.
It's complicated, to be sure. But Smith, 35, believes that some people, like herself, are not meant to be monogamous. They are polyamorous, meaning they have more than one long-term relationship going on at once.
Recently, Newt Gingrich found himself in national headlines that suggested the GOP presidential hopeful was an unlikely member of this group after his ex-wife, Marianne, alleged he had once asked her for an open marriage.
Marianne told ABC's Nightline that Newt informed her of his six-year affair with congressional aide, Callista Bisek, now his third wife, and wanted permission to continue seeing her.
"And I just stared at him, and he said, 'Callista doesn't care what I do.' He wanted an open marriage, and I refused."
Far from embracing Gingrich as a celebrity adherent, some in the polyamory community were quick to distance themselves, saying his alleged actions gave their lifestyle a bad name.
"Gingrich: Don't Destroy Non-monogamous Family Values." That was the headline on a podcast called Polyamory Weekly this past week.
"Non-monogamy in its many forms takes a tremendous amount of communication and work to ensure the happiness of all parties involved," wrote someone using the pseudonym "Cunning Minx" on Polyamory Weekly, "and it is most decidedly not an escape hatch for a guy caught with his trousers down."
"The thing about polyamory is that everyone has to agree to it and so as long as you have any partners who didn't agree to it, it's not polyamory — it's cheating," Shara Smith said.
Smith, a camera operator and video lighting technician from Orlando, said she decided monogamy was not for her after she kept falling in love with two men at the same time.
"I decided that the only way was to have an open arrangement in which everybody was honest," she said.
Polyamory is not part of the cultural mainstream. In fact, most people who practice it guard their identities. It has come up in divorce cases and the workplace, threatening child custody and jobs.
For one man or woman to take on multiple significant others is still a big taboo here in America, says Joseph Vandello, an associate professor of psychology at the University of South Florida.
"I think people have more of a problem with open marriage where neither partner is lying to each other than to an adulterous marriage where they are cheating behind each other's back," Vandello said....
Read on (Jan. 30, 2011), and leave a comment.
The article includes a sidebar with some poly terminology, such as
Bright-eyed Novice: a person who has just discovered polyamory. Handle at your own risk as they tend to date as if eating at a buffet, they are still unaware of the amount of energy and work they will need to make their relationships work and have not yet refined their communication skills.