Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

June 27, 2012

Showtime announces "Polyamory" TV series

The Showtime premium cable network has (finally) issued a press release and posted trailers announcing its reality series "Polyamory: Married and Dating." Among the people the series will feature are poly-community organizer and tantra teacher Kamala Devi, her husband Michael McClure, and their extended pod. Seven half-hour segments will air Thursdays from July 12 through August 23.

The trailer above is the short one (15 seconds). Here's the long one (65 seconds):

(These embeds don't work outside the U.S., but this YouTube version does.)

Damn, this is looking pretty good. I hope the show lives up to the promos. I've waited years for this.

The press release:

Showtime Presents "Polyamory: Married and Dating" on July 12th at 11PM ET/PT

The seven-episode series comes from producer BermanBraun.

Exploratory Docu-Series Dives Deep Into the Alternative World of Polyamorous Relationships

The new SHOWTIME docu-series, POLYAMORY: MARRIED AND DATING, exploring alternative relationship structures, premieres on Thursday, July 12th at 11 PM ET/PT. Polyamory or "poly" as it is often referred to, is practiced by couples who believe that they can also have deep, committed, long-term and loving relationships with people other than their spouses. Unlike polygamy, polyamory is not based on any religious tenets nor does it involve multiple spouses. Produced by BermanBraun, this series of seven episodes presents the various ways in which poly practitioners approach non-monogamy.

POLYAMORY: MARRIED AND DATING features Lindsey and Anthony, Los Angeles-based grad students who have been married for four years. In the premiere episode, the duo is reconnecting with their primary girlfriend of the past two years, Vanessa, who desperately wants a formalized commitment from her polyamorous triad. Further down the coast in San Diego, Kamala Devi and Michael have been married for 10 years and are the proud parents of a four-year-old son. The couple currently identifies 12 other lovers — some they share and some they don't. Devoted to expanding their family, they are inviting two of their lovers, married couple Jen and Tahl, to move in with them.

The series is created by Natalia Garcia and Janice Stango for BermanBraun. Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, Eugene Stein, Garcia and Stango serve as executive producers.

Also from Showtime: "This explicit look at modern-day polyamory follows characters grappling with the emotional and sexual drama of sharing their hearts, as well as their beds."

Each episode will rerun several times each week; see schedule (click on All Airings).

The show now has an official website. Not much there yet.

"Advisories: adult language, adult content, nudity, strong sexual content."

For more see my post last week about the series and its people.

Kamala is a director in the Tantra Theater collective in San Diego ("our mission is to combine ritual and performance to transmute sexual guilt, shame and fear into art, healing and liberation"). Below is a graphic for its next performance, "Tantra Theater Does Polyamory! Managing Multiple Relationships" happening July 6 and 7. Michael and Kamala are the ones on the lower right.

Kamala posts today:

Working with the director, Natalia Garcia, was a rich learning experience for me. She is a spiritually minded woman of vision, who is committed to women's liberation and conflict resolution. The polyamorous community is blessed to have an ally in Hollywood who is not afraid of sex, nor obsessed by it either.

Yes. This is a sexually explicit, adult content show. The sex scenes (of which there are many), tastefully and truthfully depict long term relationships making love in various combinations. We artfully show and frankly discuss lesbian sex, threesomes, foursomes and more!...

The San Diego Cast will be hosting a party to watch the World Premiere at Harbin Hot Springs at 10pm on July 12th. We will be the keynote speakers at the World Polyamory Conference on July 13 & 14. We look forward to seeing you there. Details about the World Poly Conference.

We will also be throwing a San Diego Premiere party at Victory Theater Downtown San Diego on July 27th [changed to this from the 28th –Ed.] and will have a Q & A afterwards with Director Natalia, Lindsey and Anthony and Vanessa, and the San Diego family! Details about our Polyamory: Married and Dating Premiere Party in San Diego will be posted here.

Finally, come see our live stage play in downtown San Diego! Even though we are not yet famous, we will be sharing about Polyamory by delving into issues of jealousy, safe sex, motherhood with multiple partners and other taboos. For discount tickets click here.

Thanks for all your love and support through this amazing project!

All my love,

Kamala Devi and Family.


More stuff: on Starcasm.net, PHOTOS: Meet the swinging stars of Showtime's "Polyamory: Married and Dating".


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June 22, 2012

More stories from OpenSF

Oakland Local
Bay Area Reporter
and elsewhere

More news stories are out about the record-setting OpenSF conference on ethical nonmonogamy that happened in San Francisco June 8–10 (see my original post and the earlier San Francisco Bay Guardian story).

Here's one in the nonprofit Oakland Local, "serving Oakland’s low-income communities of color through education":

First OpenSF Polyamory conference brings many Oaklanders to San Francisco

By Susan Mernit

Last weekend's conference OpenSF was... organized by a heavily Oakland-based group of sex-positive polyamorous activists and community members.

(Photo: Polyamory Weekly podcaster Cunning Minx is flanked by fellow podcasters Shira and Gavin Katz of Pedestrian Polyamory and Life on the Swingset.)

More than 500 people registered for three days of workshops, classes, and talks - and signed up for evening events ranging from a cuddle party to poly speed dating.

Workshops ranged from "So many honeys, so little money," a session on low-cost dating, to "Kink, Race and Class," a discussion of how race and class play out in the kink community, to "Balancing poly parenting," a session on building new family models.

"OpenSF has been an incredible experience," says Pepper Mint, one of the team of nine core organizers who worked with a team more than 12 people to pull the conference together over six months of planning. "The success of this event shows the growth of this community in the Bay Area, and the need for new ways to connect."

InvisibleInk, an Oakland-based organizer, told Oakland Local that the conference had made a commitment to diversity early on. Unlike some conferences for polyamorous people, Open SF had a notable age range and far more people of color than most conference of this sort....

Among the Oakland-based presenters were the following folks:

Good Vibes educator and AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator Dr. Charlie Glickman.

Blogger, sex worker an sex-positive activist Kitty Stryker.

Sex worker and activist Sandy Bottoms.

Organizers and local community members Ned and Maggie Mayhem.

Sex educators and writers Allison Moon and Reid Mihalko.

For more information on SFOpen,visit the SF Open website.

For information on poly groups in the Bay area,visit here: www.polygroups.com/groups/Bay-Area-Polyamory-

Susan Mernit is the founder of Oakland Local.

Read the whole article (June 22, 2012).

This next story appeared in the GLBT Bay Area Reporter:

Open SF holds first polyamory conference

By David-Elijah Nahmod

It may not be for everyone, but there's no denying that some people prefer polyamory relationships – earlier this month some 500 people gathered for Open SF 2012, what organizers billed as the Bay Area's first conference for ethical non-monogamy. [Not true; there have been poly conferences in San Francisco before.]

...Even if polyamory isn't quite your cup of tea, the honesty and respect for others exhibited at the conference was enlightening.

..."I'm a queer porn performer," Maggie [Mayhem] told the Bay Area Reporter. "I was quite uncertain that I could find a partner who could love and accept me, let alone be accepted by his family. I've been presented with a great opportunity to redefine family values."

Emotional safety was one of the many topics discussed at the conferences various forums. Sex educator Tristan Taormino, whose platforms include lectures, books, and videos, taught a fascinating class on dominant/submissive relationships.

...[Organizer Pepper] Mint noted that the official conference website, http://www.open-sf.org, will remain online. It will be updated slightly to report on how the conference went, but may remain dormant for awhile.

"We may do it again in two to three years," he said of the confab. "With 500 attendees, there's obviously interest in this."

Read the whole article (June 21, 2012).

For more depth about what the event was actually like, see this account by Alex, one of the writers at the Polyskeptics blog ("atheist polyamorous skeptics"):

Annalisa and I spent the last week in San Francisco.... One of the major reasons for going was also to attend OpenSF, a conference on nonmonogamy, open relationships, and polyamory organized by Pepper Mint. I’d like to take a bit of time to talk about some of the interesting panels I attended and some of the people I met in and around the conference itself....

And for a closer, after the conference the major alternative paper SF Weekly got hold of keynote speaker Tristan Taormino — traveling sex educator, passionate poly advocate, and feminist porn creator — to get the story of how she put together her remarkable career:

So You Wanna Be a Sex Writer? Tristan Taormino on Activism, Anal, and Quitting Law School

By Vanessa L. Pinto

...Sex educator Tristan Taormino... was in town recently for OpenSF, a nonmongamy conference. I am always interested in how people become sex educators, sex workers, sex activists, and sex authors, but what I learned was that Taormino's career was not one she planned on.

"I went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. That's the place where my brain got cracked open and I was exposed to Susie Bright, On Our Backs, Queer Nation, and politics. I became really active politically on campus. I was going to be an activist lawyer."...

..."Tristan, I don't think you want to be a lawyer, and I don't think you want to go to law school. I think you want to write about sex, and I think you're really good at it," Taormino's advisor told her....

...Cleiss Press sent out a note saying that they wanted proposals for sex education books. They wanted to start a new series about sex on a single topic. "I sent them a proposal for a book I called The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. This was a book I wanted to have on my shelf. I'm someone who started having anal sex in college. I really loved it, and I knew I couldn't possibly be the only person out there that liked it."

"When the book was finally done, their distributor was really freaked out about it. They said things like, 'I don't know how we are going to sell this book! Who would buy this book? No one is going to bring it up to the counter! Book stores won't shelve it!' A ton of my sales were online, which was a huge turning point....

So Taormino decided to create a workshop that went with the book and began doing it in stores like Babeland and Good Vibrations.... Talking to a room full of strangers about sex was so easy and fluid, that in that moment she realized this was exactly what she was born to do.

Now Taormino does a number of things, one of which is going to universities and educating our youth on sex.

...At OpenSF, she taught a class on nonmonogamy for people in dominant/submissive relationships. She also delivered the keynote speech about the state of nonmonogamy as a movement with political goals and aspirations.

In between all of this, she also hosts an Internet radio show called Sex Out Loud on the VoiceAmerica Network, which is something Taormino is really excited about.

Photo: Taormino with recent radio guest and fellow adult-sex-ed geek Reid Mihalko.

I think part of the reason Taormino is popular is because you can feel her passion. She is not going through the motions; she is feeling, reeling, and sharing with the world all of her experiences and ties to every kind of sex-positive community. In essence, she is giving her closing arguments to a very large audience and allowing them to decide how they feel before they make a very important decision....

Read the whole article (June 22, 2012).

For an example of what that last paragraph is about, here's her keynote speech to the 2008 Poly Pride Picnic and Rally in New York's Central Park, the first time I met her in person (and where the photo above with Reid was taken).


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June 17, 2012

Major reality-TV series "Polyamory" premieres on Showtime July 12

We've known for months that the Showtime network was preparing a reality series to be called "Polyamory"; the BermanBraun production company leaked it in some of their self-promotion materials early this year. And we've known that well-known poly activist and tantra teacher Kamala Devi and her extended family were occupied by a big project that they could not talk about.

Now two and two are officially put together, the lid is off, and Showtime is airing trailers for the show. It's called "Polyamory: Married and Dating" [update: not "Polyamorous" as first reported] and premieres July 12th.

From Kamala's newsletter:

The reason you haven't heard from me for a while is because I've been eyeballs deep in one of the most exciting projects of my life!

During the last three months, my husband Michael and lovers Jennifer and Tahl have been working on a ground breaking docu-series that will be airing this summer.

...Save the date for the San Diego launch party! You are invited to come and celebrate our official cast party on July 28th. We are going to rent out the downtown Victory Theater and watch a couple of recorded episodes and then we will do a Q & A with the director and cast.

This project has stretched me and my families to the limits.

Frankly, it has been the most profound personal growth experience of my life.

I can't find any trailers yet on Showtime's site. Kamala says that a longer trailer is supposed to start airing on Wednesday June 27.

I met Kamala and her partner Michael McClure at the Poly Living conference last February. They are wonderful advocates for the best of what I believe about this way of life.

Here's a sample: dozens of sound bites she's been working on or used in the reality show.

Here's the promo graphic they're using for an upcoming "Tantra Theater" performance in San Diego. Michael and Kamala are the ones on the lower right:


A polyfamily reality show has been a long time coming and not for lack of producers' interest. In a lengthy reminiscence that he has just published, Scott Campbell in Seattle says his family (which includes the utterly photogenic Terisa Greenan) has "been solicited for around twenty poly-themed reality shows" since their entry into the national media as poly spokespeople in 2009.


And in other entertainment news, Anita Wagner adds:

Oliver Stone's new movie, Savages, opens July 6. It's a drug-lords crime drama that features an MFM triad: http://www.savagesfilm.com/

It's spotlight time, or soon will be, for polyamorists and I hope we all have our A game ready.

I hear that Savages makes no big deal of the MFM triad; it's just part of the story situation. (Plot summary: "Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.") Maybe that's progress. No idea how "poly" their relationship will actually turn out to be.

Update: It certainly qualifies in the book on which the movie is based — Savages by Don Winslow — according to poly reviewer Maria Padhila at Planet Waves. She adores the book and has just put up a detailed article about it and the movie. (Thanx to Bitsy for the tip.)

The movie is "rated R for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout." I think I'll skip.

Watch trailer.


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June 15, 2012

OpenSF as covered in a local paper

San Francisco Bay Guardian

With people still bubbling from OpenSF in San Francisco (see my previous post), the city's long-established alternative newspaper the San Francisco Bay Guardian publishes an article about the conference on its website:

Your love: Open SF conference teaches, showcases polyamorous community

By Kelly Lovemonster

Photo caption: Porn marrieds Maggie and Ned Mayhem shared their story of multi-generation polyamory at OpenSF.

In my San Francisco, it’s not uncommon to know someone who identifies as polyamorous, or who participates in multiple loving and intimate relationships.

In fact when I talked to Pepper Mint, conference organizer for OpenSF, he told me that the non-monagamous community in the Bay Area has finally reached a critical mass. His reasoning? Over the weekend of June 8, Open SF was attended by over 500 of the poly-curious and practicing.

As his community expands, Mint thinks it is necessary to recognize the multitude of voices that compose polyamorous San Francisco. “I feel it is important to highlight our similarities while acknowledging our differences,” he told me as we sat on the floor outside of one of the many conference rooms at the Holiday Inn where OpenSF was in full swing around us.

The weekend started with the Pink play party at Mission Control. There was a keynote address from trans-identified sex educator Ignacio Rivera and trans-gendered health educator and social justice activist Yoseñio V. Lewis. The two also hosted a lecture entitled “Kink, Race, and Class.”

The lecture sought to inspire dialogue about how race, racism, and class appear in the world of kink. It was one of many unique talks over the weekend that both celebrated and critiqued the diversity and spread of the polyamorous community. Other offerings available to OpenSF attendees included “Sex Work and Non-Monogamy,” “Fat Sluts, Hungry Virgins,” and “Trans-Queering Your Sex.”

In another hallway that weekend, Sonya Brewer -- who facilitated the “Cultivating Healthy Boundaries” lecture on Sunday -- suggested the conference was well attended due to Mint’s effort to include a diversity of individuals, including sexual minorities and other oppressed groups on the planning committee....

Mint described himself to be a straight-leaning bisexual with some gender variance. I watched him push back his shoulder-length purple hair to kiss one of his female lovers hello as he confidently navigated our interview and managed the conference.

When I asked him to describe his poly structure Mint said, “I have a partner that I live with, two girlfriends, and a number of lovers.” He was raised in a polyamorous home, and talked openly about how his childhood environment help him grow into a healthy, sex-positive community leader. “When creating a sex-positive polyamorous space there is an importance to two things; skills -- communication and transparency -- and building community connections. People who participate in community usually succeed in polyamory.”

For my own itinerary, I settled on two lectures: Kathy Labriola’s “Unmasking the Green-Eyed Monster: Managing Jealousy in Open Relationships” and “Second Generation Poly,” a panel featuring porn couple Maggie and Ned Mayhem and members of their family....

Maggie Mayhem -- dressed in a fluorescent orange space suit, a representation of her “out-of-this-world situation” -- sat on a panel with partner Ned, his father, and his father’s “second partner” (a non-hierarchical term, Maggie clarified for me later.) They discussed negotiating boundaries at sex parties, raising children with more than two parents, and the stigma many parents of sex-positive children can encounter. Mayhem encouraged the audience to, “Be the author to your own happily ever after.”

I left OpenSF feeling newly inspired, and informed about the diverse landscape of the Bay Area’s poly community. The conference encouraged its participants to create doctrines of love while keeping a critical and open perspective. And it provided a place for the polyamorous to come together. “People who try to create their own non-monogamy usually fail,” said Mint. “People who participate in community usually succeed.”

Read the whole article (June 14, 2012).

A reporter for the GLBT paper the Bay Area Reporter was also there, and it will probably have a story.

Also, the Life on the Swingset podcast folks recorded their OpenSF session on Progressive Swinging, and they've made it into Swingset Episode #77. Listen here (59 minutes).


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June 13, 2012

The OpenSF Conference sets a record

Last weekend the poly world broke a record. In downtown San Francisco, the new OpenSF Conference drew a total of 500 people. That's about twice the number that has ever before gathered in one place for a polyamory-themed event, as far as I can determine.

Organizer Pepper Mint worked more than a year to built the conference. He defined its topic as ethical nonmonogamy broadly, including swingers and open relationships, but that's poly enough for me. And he says most of the people who came were poly-identified. So it's a record.

I wasn't there, but by all accounts so far OpenSF was a tremendous success — with many top-quality presenters, sessions, and social events, serious racial, ethnic, and lifestyle diversity, and heaps of energy.

Pepper is widely known and respected in the Bay Area as a poly/kink community organizer and queer theorist (who among other things founded Fetlife's largest poly group, with 22,000 members). Here's his post laying out OpenSF's goals and purposes; note the vigorous emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness. He pulled it together with the help of co-organizers and as the time drew near, large numbers of volunteers. He tells us:

We had 550-ish total registrations and 500-ish actual attendees. Both of those are plus or minus up to 10 people — our counting systems were not perfect.

I am super-pleased with the conference. The feedback so far as been entirely positive, with a lot of people commenting that the focus on diversity meant that they felt at home at this conference in a way they rarely feel at others.

I think by and large the sessions blew people out of the water. They were not expecting the content to be so interesting and challenging. We are sitting on an incredible goldmine of amazing sex educators here in the Bay Area, and it showed during this event.

And the keynotes were amazing. Yoseñio and Ignacio did a keynote talking about invisibility within nonmonogamous communities and multiple marginalizations. Tristan did a keynote that focused on the current political moment and the political implications of coming out.

Both keynotes and some sessions will eventually be available on video, when we get our shit together, which will probably be a couple weeks.

To answer Alan's question, the conference is currently $1500-ish in the hole, though I need to do an accounting. But, that's $1500 on a $27,000 conference. Also, I'm hoping to make some or all of that up by selling video or asking for donations.

My strategy on this conference (well, really on everything, but applied to the conference) was to gamble big, cut no corners, and go at it with all guns blazing. We promised folks everything and charged them a ridiculously low price for it. And it paid off in spades, though I was still unsure this would happen even two months ago. At some point soon I'm going to try to write up everything I remember so others can use my experience.

Update July 4: Pepper now writes that Open SF ended up $4,210 in the red after expenses of $28,401. Open SF is asking for donations to get squared up. Donate here. The page has a breakdown of the conference's costs and income.

Here is one writeup of what the event was like for a newbie, by Angelica O. (reprinted with permission):

Wow. Open SF was an intense and amazing experience. The Holiday Inn on Van Ness was totally chock-a-block with poly and other non-monogamous folks. G and I don't really identify much with any of the subcultures...we kind of did non-monogamy in a vacuum as there is basically no community in Taiwan and we were doing long-distance anyhow, so it wasn't even really a community of two. It's really eye-opening and exciting to find that lots of different folks have come up against the same challenges and came up with so many useful and interesting solutions. I personally thought the conference was a mix between the fun stuff (poly speed dating! [attendance 306]) and the heavier, more political issues (atheism and non-monogamy, marginalized and minority voices in the alt-sexual world).

Words I didn't know before Maybe because ethical non-monogamy is such a new thing, people seem to have an urge to coin new terms to describe people and concepts within it. Some are humorous, others helpful. Still more a bit goofy.

      ● Metamours: two people who share the same partner, but are not romantically involved between themselves.

      ● Outlaws: people who you consider as close as family perhaps as a part of a poly network, but whom you have no societally recognized connections with.

      ● Polysaturated: OK, this one's just a joke...for people who have so many relationship going on they run out of time/energy.

      ● Calendar jujitsu: what you need when you are dangerously close to being polysaturated.

      ● SOP: Swingers/ Open/ Poly: an umbrella term seeking to unite the ethically non-monogamous community, the way LGBTQ community unites the queers.

      ● Progressive swingers: Another term that I have no idea whether there is any wider currency beyond the people I heard using it. It describes swingers who do not adhere strictly to the swinger code, whatever it is.

Event: Poly "isms": Addressing Multiple Marginalizations in Non-Monogamous and Kink Community

I was strongly reminded that I dislike panel discussions where the facilitator asks a short question, and a mike is passed along all the participants of the panel. It's such a dull, unstructured format. I was interested in the topic and some of the panel participants (all POC and perhaps marginalized in other ways e.g. trans or large) were interesting. So I would say despite the format, I picked up some really interesting information.

Event: Atheism and Sexuality with Greta Christina

This was a nice barnburning speech about how rejecting religion leads to a re-evaluation of the religion-based moral framework for sexuality. Best line: "Without god to tell us what is ethical [in terms of sexual behavior], we actually have to turn to ethics." Christina argues that sexual ethics is commonly thought of as a big checklist of what's acceptable and what's not, and the checklist is constructed with a mishmash of tradition, religion and "the ick factor". Things that are icky to us are often in fact not unethical. Also, she points out that some of the best of our cultural achievements comes from taking a simple and fundamental human urge and making art out of it...for instance gourmet food versus feeding for sustenance. Second best line: "Apparently my DNA has been fooled into thinking that they can perpetuate themselves by spanking other women."

Event: Non-monogamy without sex

When you reject the premise that one relationship is the be-all-and-end-all romantically, interesting things happen to your non-romantic relationships too. You start asking why a relationship is automatically given more weight if sex is involved. Learning to be respectful and committed to non-monogamous partners leads you to evaluate other close relationships in your life and giving them the weight they properly deserve.

Three catagories of non-romantic relationships discussed: once-romantic relationships that are no longer sexual, "chosen family" relationships that never had a sexual element, and romantic friendships that contain a sexual tension that remains unconsummated. Marcia Baczynski and Julianne Carroll gave a great presentation that was very interactive and really got the croud buzzing. It occurs to me, and not me alone, that this kind of non-nuclear extended tribe that poly families end up being is actually a lot more like how humans lived for most of history than the mom+dad+2.5 kids set up that is currently standard.

Event: Sex with Benefits: Progressive swinging

There's a fair bit of mutual snobbery between the swingers and the poly folks. For swingers, non-monogamy is a very compartimentalized thing...just because they swap wives doesn't mean they don't also have the perfect house with white picket fence and vote Republican. Oh, and definitely NO HOMO! Among the men that is. Ladies, you go on ahead as it turns the guys on. Just don't get too weird or butch or anything. Well, the progressive swingers are seeking to expand out of the traditional, rigid 'swinger's code' stuff and reach out to the polys. I really didn't think there was much for me at the traditional swinger set, but the progressive swingers seem like a fun group and endeared me by drinking copious amounts of red wine during the panel and getting hilariously tipsy as a result.

Event: Keynote speech with Ignacio Rivera and Yosenio V. Lewis

This started off being really fun...it was an exploration of minority disenfranchisement in poly-land, an important but a bit of a bummer of a topic. But the humor was great and the presentation was in a really well-rehearsed cross-talk slam poetry format. Butttt...it went on for wayyyyy toooo looooong, and the Q & A completely lost me ("What do you think about using shared trauma as a framework for generating empathy regarding this topic...?" blah blah blah).

Poly speed dating

This was so fun. G had many fewer dates than I given that he is a straight, non-bicurious non-kinky male (he calls himself "the vanilla-est guy in polyville"). My best matches were [names removed].

Top 3 events I wish I could have attended, and overall thoughts

How Not To Be a Douche (on Fetlife and other sexy sites) presented by Cunning Minx.

Pickup Arts for Sweethearts. Because even after all these years of being non-monogamous, I still suck at flirting.

Poly Theory: Making Meaning and Re-Making Culture through Networked Romantic Relationships, presented by Joy Brooke Fairfield. Because I'm a sucker for changing the world.

Another attendee writes how her experience at OpenSF has inspired her to come out:

Tristan Taormino did the keynote speech on Sunday morning. She disclosed some very personal stories, and brought the audience to tears multiple times. One story, about three men who live in a triad, and are in relationships with one another was particularly poignant, and as she spoke about one man’s mother finally reaching acceptance with their non-monogamy, I witnessed several people sobbing. They want their families to accept their relationships too.

I have been a fan of Tristan’s for quite some time, and I have enormous amounts of respect and admiration for the work she does. Near the end of her keynote speech, Tristan issued a call to action. She spoke about privilege, and how important it is for someone who appears “normal” to everyday mainstream society to give back to the marginalized communities they identify with by coming out publicly as a member of that community.

Our lives, the way we live them, open possibilities for people around us. We are role models, whether we like it or not. Our silence will keep us where we are. Telling the truth about our values, our chosen families, will shift the dialogue, will create change.
–Tristan Taormino

I am certainly a privileged person. I am white. I am a cisgendered woman. I have attended college. I live in a city that is defined by its acceptance of everyone. I am not in danger of losing a job, my boyfriend, or my friends by speaking about my experiences and who I am, though I do remain both nervous and terrified of my family’s reaction.

I have been the direct beneficiary of the bravery of so many other people in the marginalized communities I identify with, and yet I have refused to speak publicly about my membership in these communities. So, as I take a deep breath, I am going to come out to you all. Right now....

...I have answered Tristan’s call to action, and I am now issuing one of my own. It is so incredibly important that those of us who have the privilege of appearing mainstream to publicly proclaim our membership to the marginalized, demonized, and ostracized communities who have given us so much. Showing to the world that “normal” people are a part of these communities, that members aren’t some scary nebulous “other”, will pave the way for acceptance. Stop hiding in a closet and being ashamed of who you are. Come out. Our world will be brighter when you do.

And now the bad news: OpenSF is not happening next year. Pepper has announced,

We want to let you know that OpenSF WILL NOT COME BACK NEXT YEAR.... Awesome conferences take a lot of work to produce, so we are going to take at least a year to re-group and re-plan.

Were you there? Leave your impressions in the comments.

Update: The Life on the Swingset podcast folks recorded the session they gave on Progressive Swinging, and they've made it into Swingset Episode #77. Listen here (59 minutes).


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June 11, 2012

"Five Things that Make Polyamorous Relationships Work"

I don't usually post here about poly blog articles — there's way too many of them — but this one is particularly noteworthy and it's spreading around. It's at Queering the Mind by New York therapist Laura Booker. She has worked for many years at the LGBT Center in the West Village "with clients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex; monogamous, polyamorous; adolescent and adult, all in the hopes of helping people find a life that is gratifying and rich while exploring the ways in which homophobia, transphobia, sexism, abuse and trauma oppress people and ultimately affect their mental health."

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too:
5 Things that Make Polyamorous Relationships Work.

Is it really so bad to have your cake and eat it too? I never understood this expression. What is the point of having your cake if you can’t enjoy it? The expression speaks to our culture of austerity and provincialism, where character building and morality is associated with refraining and abstention. On one hand we are a culture of tremendous gluttony and indulgence, but with a puritanical underpinning that tells us “you can look but don’t touch.” No wonder so many people and confused about what they want.

...Increasingly in my clinical practice I see more people opting out of the traditional structure of monogamous partnership or marriage. Although gay men have been said to own the market on open relationships, I am seeing people all across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum that are choosing polyamory or open marriage/partnership as viable alternatives.... And some young queer people in New York City even cite a pressure within the community currently to be non-monogamous.

So when an individual or couple comes into my office and describes their relationships and what they want for themselves, my job is to help them figure out, “How can we make this work?” As I’ve moved through exploration of relationship possibilities, and challenges people encounter in creating the lives they want, I have been thinking about why one person (or a couple, triad, and so on) can make poly relationships work and why others can’t.

When I tell people about my work, they are usually fascinated by the possibility of living differently. Often their eyes light up at the potential of not having to repress their needs or desires for something different sexually or emotionally....

Let me just say this upfront: non-monogamy takes a lot of emotional work.... And like monogamous relationships, poly relationships can range from tremendously gratifying to devastating....

1. Both people have to really want it.... Both partners have to be invested in the process and the experience.... Now that said, some couples go through a trial period, where they are essentially “trying on” polyamory with an agreement that they will decide if it’s the right construct for their relationship.... Being in a poly relationship requires ongoing conversation and acknowledgement that feelings are fluid and changeable.

2. Accept that difficult feelings will come up. Individuals succeed in poly relationships when they accept that dealing with feelings like jealousy, insecurity, fear, hurt and anger may be part of the process. How the person or couple deals with these feelings is more significant than their presence alone....

3. Communicate beyond your wildest imagination.... If you’re a poor communicator, I urge you now to retreat to monogamy. It will still be difficult, but not as difficult as being poly....

4. Come from a family that made you feel loved and secure. ...When a child grows up feeling safe, secure, loved and valued, typically they internalize a sense of safety, calm and self-worth. This fundamentally critical experience can help a person navigate poly relationships....

5. Get support from people who can affirm your relationship choices.... Just like coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual, poly people need to seek out others both in and out of the poly community who support and understand their choices....

That's just bits; the whole article is well worth a read, and bookmark it to pass to people looking for solid Poly 101 advice. (Article published June 6, 2012).


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