Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 26, 2012

The Showtime Polyamory series:
Taking Stock

There's no news to report —— yet —— on Showtime's possible renewal of Polyamory: Married and Dating for a second season. But director/producer Natalia Garcia, who is energetically seeking additional poly families and groups to interview, says "the search is going really well." Showtime's decision will depend in part on who she can present to them.

If you missed some or all of the series, it's available for only through November 6th from Showtime On Demand (on TV) or Showtime Anytime (on a computer, tablet or phone if you have a participating cable provider). In either case you have to subscribe to Showtime on cable for a few dollars a month; check how soon you can cancel. In Canada it's on demand from The Movie Network.

The series becomes unavailable in the U.S. after November 6th. It's not on DVD yet, but Showtime seems to issue all their programs on DVD eventually.

Click here for trailers of all episodes.

More than a month after the series ended, the show and its star quad received a nice writeup in a San Diego regional magazine:

The Three-Way of Love

San Diego's polyamory community goes national

By Brook Larios

Season after season of not-so-real housewives doing not-so-interesting things, and we’ve finally struck gold with a show that follows the lives of four real San Diegans living and loving each other in a not-so-typical way....

“The show was so good that people can’t really criticize it too much,” [quad member Michael] McClure says. “Watching [it], they can really see that there’s love and that we’re building families. We’re really committed, family people.”...

“I have nothing against monogamy,” McClure says. “I think it’s a great paradigm, and it’s beautiful when people are dedicated, committed couples. What I don’t like is the dishonesty I see in monogamous relationships, where people can’t say they’re attracted to that person walking by or their secretary at work.”...

Whether the series is picked up for a second season remains to be seen, but the first seven episodes provide enough fodder for a glorious discourse over what constitutes a healthy relationship.

“I think people should be able to choose if they want to marry either sex or multiple people, [Tahl] Gruer says. “If people have more options, there will be less misery. There’s a lot of misery around people being forced into little boxes.”...

Read the whole article (in Pacific Magazine San Diego, Sept. 27, 2012).


So... has polyamory's big debut into mainstream entertainment TV been a good thing?

Opinions on poly discussion lists have been strong and divided from the start.

Some, including me, think the series is a real advance. We got a clear, basically accurate, enthusiastic portrayal of what poly is all about from a passionately sympathetic director. The show humanized us, and it displayed its stars' good intentions and ideals and their conscious communication work. It demonstrated that this life is even possible. In exchange, I'm willing to accept the imperfections and drama among the people portrayed, and the R-rated nudity and group sex scenes in most of the episodes. I thought these brief scenes were handled thoughtfully and respectfully in ways that showed an important part of the relationships.

And, the show sure boosted Google hits to this site.

Other people think otherwise. They feel the show represented them poorly or not at all, and that the sex and nudity scenes will make it harder for them to come out to family and friends. Some express contempt for commercial TV and the whole entertainment industry, reality docu-dramas in particular, sometimes without having seen the show.

Shawnphilly, a thoughtful poly blogger in the atheist/skeptic movement, writes about the coming-out problem at polyskeptic.com:

Coming out poly in light of mainstream images

I’m out.... But I’m concerned how the show will affect coming out for the rest of us.

I have a hypotheses that when a fringe or minority idea, group, etc., comes into the mainstream, it almost always has serious misrepresentations attached to it. Anyone serious about understanding the minority worldviews, upon its being portrayed in the mainstream, needs to do some personal research to get to the reality beneath the sexed-up mainstream presentation.

The people in the Showtime series are not “bad” representations of polyamory; they seem at least mostly realistic and genuine. But what I think most people will take away from watching the series is that polyamory is a lot of sex with young, hot people all the time. And, I’m sure, for some people it is just that. At least, it is for a little while. I certainly had a lot more sex, with more people, in the beginning of my polyamorous life.

I’ve been around many polyamory meetups, a few parties, and have talked with poly people form various backgrounds over the last several years. The Showtime series, while somewhat good at presenting the open and honest form of communication between the people, is very focused on sex.... In my poly life nakedness and sex are not ubiquitous, and I think that’s probably true for most polyamorous people.

But I’m not here to analyze the saturation of nakedness in mainstream portrayal of polyamory, but rather the effect that such things have on other poly people, especially those who may be thinking about coming out to their family, friends, etc. My thought is that while such shows may give some context and grounding of what polyamory is to a larger audience, it also creates a stereotype with which we will be associated.

...So now when people I know see me, they will associate that overly-sexualized perpetual orgy with what I mean when I say I’m polyamorous.

According to some people Gina knows, she has like 15 husbands (and she has not introduced me to 14 of them!). My mom (hi mom) thinks, or at least thought, that I was just going to keep adding women to my life... and when I have 500 lovers, my wife will leave me knowing her turn won’t come around for a year and a half or some shit....


...What I think Showtime should have done was to include a family who are less sex-driven, and more about focusing on relationships. Or at least de-emphasized the sex. But then, of course, less people would watch it, right?

...Making it look like sex is the thing that polyamory is about will cause people to overlook the emotional work that needs to be done, not just for the sake of having more sex with more people, but for the sake of becoming a more mature and capable adult.... What Showtime’s series seems to leave out is the work it takes to get where those people are; it gives a glimpse of where we all could be, but not how to get there.

Read his whole article (Oct. 2, 2012).


But either way, it's out of our hands. We don't run the entertainment industry. What we can do is try to educate people in the industry who show interest, feed them good people and ideas, and work with them to shape things to the extent possible. Garcia has gained an online reputation as prickly and dismissive of criticism. Nevertheless, for this pioneer show we lucked out. God knows what Hollywood's next polyamory series will be like.



October 23, 2012

Safe-space school poster
brings out gay polyphobia

Take a close look at this poster. Especially the top and bottom.

Last month the Toronto District School Board began distributing this and four other posters to about 600 schools as part of its “safe and positive spaces” campaign, including, if you look carefully, an apparent bit of respect for polyfamilies FMF and MFM. Maybe someone thought nobody would notice? Uh-uh.

A little background. Polyfamilies have lately received somewhat more attention in Canada than in the U.S., I would guess, what with last year's polygamy test case in British Columbia and its widely publicized polyamory sidelight with affidavits from five polyamorous households. There have also been straightforward articles like this one, which appeared last month in Canada's leading national newspaper, on top of the usual blow-over from the U.S. (for instance, Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating series is just finishing up on The Movie Network in Canada and is available there on demand).

The safe-spaces poster caught the attention of some traditionalists and upset them no end; they fixated on those two hearts out of the two dozen.

In the conservative National Post:

Threesomes on Toronto school board posters not intended to promote polygamy, spokesman says

By Megan O'Toole

One poster depicts threesomes of stick men and stick women inside colourful hearts. Another features a young boy cross-dressing in a bright orange wig, fuchsia dress and pink boots.

The images are hardly shocking in a 21st-century world, but do they belong in the hallways of Toronto’s public schools? Some parents are asking that after the posters, created several years ago as part of the Toronto District School Board’s “Safe and Positive Spaces” campaign, landed in the public spotlight this week. Critics say the intended message of inclusion has been lost in the confusing imagery.

“I think the gut reaction of most parents is going to be, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, what are these being used for?’ ” said Doretta Wilson, executive director of the Society for Quality Education, an Ontario-focused education policy think-tank....

The poster depicting trios of stick men and women inside multi-coloured hearts has drawn an array of differing interpretations, with some likening it to an endorsement of polygamy, and others seeing an advertisement for promiscuity.

But the TDSB — which printed about 12,000 “Safe and Positive Spaces” posters featuring five different designs — says the intent was “to support an individual’s right to express whom they love, regardless of gender.” The posters were part of a larger campaign launched three years ago to tackle gender-based violence, board spokesman Ryan Bird said.

“The reason for depicting two women and one man was meant to show that a person can be attracted to more than one gender,” Mr. Bird said, noting the board “does not support polygamy.”

...Other parents lauded the poster campaign as a potential trigger for important conversations about lifestyle variance and the need to respect all others.

“These kinds of campaigns are part of that, they’re part of shining a light on the reality that we are all different,” said Annie Kidder, executive director of parent-led advocacy group People for Education. “What the posters are promoting is tolerance… It’s a conversation kids need to have, parents need to have. All of us need to be able to wrestle with these things [and] every single kid should feel safe and accepted at school.”

Read the whole article (Sept. 26, 2012).

And many more in the news.

Open Toronto ("polyamory and open relationships in Toronto") responded to the uproar,

...Perhaps it should not be surprising that the image of three stick figures within a heart leads directly to the concept of polygamy, rather than polyamory, or even someone casually dating males and females.... The recent mainstream-media attention paid to polyamory should help to slowly shift this view, but it will be a slow process, and a significant amount of time until polygamy isn’t the only alternative lifestyle mentioned in this kind of controversy.

The most fascinating part of this story is that in general, people understand and accept that an individual may be bisexual, and yet their default assumption is that a bisexual person will repress their attraction to all but one gender. That assumption is so strong that the only possibility people can imagine beyond such repression is polygamy. The press coverage, and people’s thought processes, don’t even explore the absurdity of someone having to live in such a repressed state, and what alternatives, beyond polygamy, might be possible.

It’s a shame that the school board chose to simply say they were not endorsing polygamy, rather than using this as an opportunity to raise awareness of other alternatives, such as polyamory.

One bit of the fallout was, ironically, a tantrum of polyphobia by a gay student (college in this case) for whom the poster advocates safe space. In The Varsity of the University of Toronto:

Schools shouldn’t be promoting polyamory

By Carter West

...I am a frequent user of GRIDNR, a social application designed for homosexuals that asks each client to submit a picture and some basic information.... Every day us gays who’ve added this application to our mobile devices at U of T and around Toronto hook up with other gays....

The purpose of this diversion into GRINDR is to illustrate a development that appropriately reflects the truths of polyamory. It is a sex-based practice that fulfills the libido and satisfies the heart about as much as a mirage. I make no exceptions to this claim. If the polyamrous can demonstrate that they can stay with their people, raise many children, and show that this arrangement is capable of making useful contributions to society as a long-term effort, then showing the next generation TDSB’s “love has no gender” poster will be perfectly appropriate. Until then it is irresponsible for the School Board to promote a lifestyle that has its advocates in the classroom but none as living examples of the success of multi-party stable relationships.

To which I left a rather flamy comment that he sounds like a privileged 12-year-old who knows so much about everything that he doesn't need to read up on a new topic before spouting off about it. See the whole article (Oct. 21, 2012), and leave your own comment.

Kerfuffles like the Toronto safe-space poster are increasingly going to give us opportunities to spread polyamory awareness. Grab them. We've got a long way to go, but the wind is with us.


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October 15, 2012

"Polyamorous with children: A mom's story"

City Pages (Minneapolis / St. Paul)

Remember the alt-weekly cover story on poly in Minneapolis earlier this week? Now the writer has a followup story on the paper's website:

Polyamorous with children: A mom's story

By Patrick Strait

This past week we dove deep into the Twin Cities polyamory scene, to shed some light on how multiple people can co-exist in a loving, open relationship. If you haven't read it already, click here and do it now. (We'll wait.)

One point of interest in this week's feature was the idea that polyamorous people with children would be reluctant to speak with the media for fear of scrutiny and even possible legal repercussions. Turns out, that's not entirely true.

Julia Janousek from north Minneapolis -- her real name, no less -- reached out to City Pages this past week, offering to provide her perspective on being a polyamorous mother of two.

...So how did your kids react to you practicing poly?

The things with kids, is that when people are trying to hide something, it's exciting. But we just live our lives and don't really make a big deal out of it, so they don't really think anything of it either.

...Do your kids ever talk about you being poly with their friends?

My daughter has mentioned before how her friends don't really understand, so I'm assuming she talks to them about it a little. But none of her friends have stopped talking to her, and their moms haven't stopped talking to us, and I know that they know our situation.

...When that day comes when your son or daughter brings home their first boyfriend or girlfriend, are you going to encourage them to be poly themselves?

We'll let them figure out their own way. But I do hope that they don't go through the whole, "this boy broke up with me so my life is over" thing....

Read on (Oct. 15, 2012).


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October 11, 2012

On Fox sitcom, poly as a defining Millennial coolness thing

New Girl (Fox Network)

Just a few years ago polys were stereotyped as gray-haired ex-hippies. Now the largest poly discussion group outside of Fetlife (as far as I know) is reddit/r/polyamory, with close to 10,000 members, and reddit is mostly 20-somethings. We've seen countless other signs. (For instance. And lots more [includes this post; scroll down].)

On Tuesday (Oct. 9), Fox TV aired an episode of New Girl in which a 30ish Gen Y-er thinks he's getting old and un-cool. To dramatize this, screenwriter Berkley Johnson has four hip, cool Millennials move into the apartment across the hall. How does the screenwriter convey Millennial coolness? Partly by making three of them a polyamorous triad. Using those words. The older Gen Y-er (behind couch above) reacts with distress and envy of the young 'uns.

Jessica Karels of Modern Poly guest-writes us a review:

New Girl is a sitcom that focuses on the lives of four roommates: Jess, Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. I learned about the reference to polyamory in this episode from watching keyword searches on Twitter.

The episode involves the dynamics between Jess and Schmidt. Jess, laid off from her teaching job, works at a fast-food place. Schmidt, who is success-oriented to the point of being cocky, is disappointed that she's working part-time in a menial job. The tables turn when the new neighbors across the hall hate Schmidt and adore Jess. Schmidt starts to wonder if the neighbors hate him because they see him as "old."

After another attempt to be cool blows up in Schmidt's face, Jess tells him he's trying too hard. Schmidt soon finds out that the reason the neighbors don't like him isn't his age — it's that he's a "viciously unbearable asshead."

The amusing twist is that the age difference here is maybe 5 or 6 years. The young neighbors appear to be in their early 20s. We see an exaggeration of Millennial hipster culture — quinoa, sitars, hula-hoops, and iPhone covers that resemble cassette tapes (how ironic). The youngsters seem fixated on a bohemian lifestyle and come across as modern-day hippies and counterculturalists.

Polyamory comes up mid-show as Schmidt blames his age for why the neighbors dislike him. "They’re the future of humanity!" he laments. "A pan-ethnic, pansexual hive mind and they want nothing to do with me!"

Jess and Nick stumble through explaining the relationship dynamic:

Jess: "Brory, Sutton, and Fife are in a triad, and Chaz is a floater."

Schmidt: "They’re polyamorous?! Dammit!" (making him feel older still).

Apparently being polyamorous is now a Millennial thing. I'm turning 33 in less than three weeks. Thank you New Girl and Fox Network for making me feel old and validating my decision to switch my online moniker from "Young Metro Poly" to "Polyamory Pundit" :p

--Jessica Karels

Also, a writer at a college newspaper does her own review of the episode (Oct. 10, 2012).

Some may remember seasons 1 and 2 of NBC's Parks and Recreation in 2009 and 2010, when young intern April was in a triad with two guys. The relationship ended, but it was sort of a characteristic-millennial thing while it lasted, and no one on the show spoke against it. A reviewer in the Los Angeles Times suggested at the time that it was "perhaps the first functioning polyamory on network prime time."


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October 10, 2012

"Love is too big for just two"

City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Courtesy the Partners in Polyamory podcast.
Walk down the street in Minnesota's Twin Cities, and starting this morning you're likely to see the area's weekly alternative paper on display with a multi-arrow Cupid on the cover and the teaser "The Twin Cities polyamory community believes love is too big for just two."

I'll endorse that message!

The nearly 3,000-word story profiles several people and households whom the writer found through MN Poly:

Polyamory in the Twin Cities

By Patrick Strait

Carrie, her husband Rick, and her boyfriend Mark are roommates who share a house in south Minneapolis. And like most roommates, they have rules.

For example: When Carrie and Rick are having a date night at home, Mark stays out of sight. When Mark brings home a date, Carrie gives them space.

If Carrie and Mark are on a date, however, and Rick and his girlfriend are in the house, they can all socialize — but only if it's in a common area like the living room. You know, normal roommate stuff.

While at first pass this may seem like a rejected script for a Three's Company remake, the reality is that Carrie, Rick, and Mark — all of whom requested pseudonyms — are polyamorous. This means they practice the idea of carrying on multiple romantic relationships simultaneously, while maintaining an open honesty with all those involved.

To monogamous folks, this idea might sound like something straight out of science fiction (which is actually kind of true, as polyamory has been a recurring theme in sci-fi for years). However, polyamory has been around the Twin Cities for decades and has become increasingly visible over the past few years thanks to media exposure and various organized meet-up groups. It's through one of those groups that Carrie and Rick, both 41, first met and began what has been a long, successful relationship....

A self-described "heavy committer," Carrie first realized she was a polyamorous person back in college when her then-fiancé introduced her to a book about plural marriage.

"I would find myself in a strong relationship with someone for quite a while, but then at some point I'd start to find myself caring about another person," she says. "So then I'd start to think that maybe I was doing something wrong, or that there was something wrong with me. Once I read this, though, it all made sense."

...Mark, who is 30, moved in with the couple about 10 months ago. But unlike most stories of wives with boyfriends, this time it was the husband playing matchmaker.... Eventually, Rick's persistence paid off and Mark soon became the third member of the triad.... The men of the household explain that their bro-bond is completely platonic.

...Carrie agrees that the idea of sexually transmitted diseases due to multiple sex partners is one of — if not the most — talked about topics with those who are uninformed about poly....

"Here's the thing though: In a group like ours, you're a lot more cognizant of who you sleep with," Rick adds. "We all hang around each other in the same circles, so I know that if I sleep with someone, then I'm affecting the other people she may be in a relationship with."

"I know more about STDs than my monogamous friends," Carrie adds. "It's funny, because they assume my number of partners is higher than theirs. Then we compare numbers and I think it scares them a bit how many more people they've been with than I have."...

Read on (Oct. 10, 2012).


October 1, 2012

Poly, privilege, race, and class: New voices

(Designs by Mai Li  / Modern Poly)
White, middle-class, educated, fairly privileged looking: that's how the self-identifying poly community usually appears. But that's far from the whole picture, as is being discussed after seven white, very articulate and TV-attractive polys starred in Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating. See my last post for the executive producer's comments on her inability to recruit a more diverse cast. Does the white-privileged image keep other people away? Or is privilege necessary if you want to challenge societal rules on TV and get away with it?

First, some statistics. From last week's big Globe and Mail article about poly in the U.S. and Canada:

...The cast of Polyamory is typical of poly culture. According to a growing body of research, the community is dominated by white professionals and college students. Ninety per cent of the respondents [to a recent survey of 1,100 polyamorists by Melissa Mitchell of Simon Fraser University] identified as Caucasian, and 94.5 per cent had some college education.

Of Dr. [Elisabeth] Sheff’s interview subjects, 89 per cent were white, 74 per cent were in professional jobs, and 67 per cent had at least a bachelor’s degree.

A 2011 literature survey by Dr. Sheff and Corie Hammers, which compiled racial and class data on polyamorists and related groups from 36 independent studies, confirmed that sexual minorities are heavily weighted toward upper-middle-class whites.

It makes sense, Dr. Sheff says: People who face poverty or racism often cannot afford to take the risks associated with defying social norms, which could lead to losing their jobs, homes or kids. Legal protection is particularly scarce for polys, which is less of a problem for those with the financial resources to hire lawyers.

...“It’s easy to cast as a personal choice if that’s all it seems to you, devoid of social and political context,” Dr. Sheff says. “But some people can’t ignore that context.”

One person who has tackled the diversity issue seriously is San Francisco's respected queer/kink/poly organizer Pepper Mint (his real name). He was the lead organizer of June's OpenSF conference, which drew 500 people. That set a new record for the largest poly-themed gathering since the word was invented in 1990. Pepper and his co-organizers achieved this in part by their vigorous outreach to local minority communities underserved by the white poly movement.

A lesser-known piece of groundwork for this was laid last February: a panel discussion (photo at right) on responsible nonmonogamy was held in Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco. PolyPOC Oakland and others deliberately publicized it only in local minority networks. That strategy drew more than 100 people of color to what they knew would be a comfortable event that would be speaking to them. This kind of work was surely why Oakland was later so well represented at OpenSF.


More recently, the Modern Poly organizers have finally been getting their website into high gear. As part of this, the site's magazine portion began a series called Poly &, to present voices from a diversity of races, religions, politics, genders and other polyfolk identities.

The Poly & Race series began in August, with four articles so far. The stories make for out-of-the-ordinary reading. Excerpts:

Poly & Race: Poly & Black, by B. L. Bunche:

“Poly and Race: Poly and Black.”

Sounds tokenizing, and really, definitionally, it is. But that’s the honest reality of life as a Black American.... As I’ve become more involved in social justice activism, I’ve made peace with it.

That said, I cannot possibly talk about being Polyamorous and a Black American in the space allotted to a degree that’s satisfying to me or my audience. The amount of information I would need to cover just to give anyone reading this even a sliver of understanding of what my life is like is massive....[But] I will attempt to steer clear of that and talk about something I deeply feel is just as important and relevant:


To put it bluntly, we are doing it wrong.

As a community, I don’t think we [polys] have a firm hold on how we present to the outside world. We don’t understand, fully, what our makeup truly is, or the untapped power we hold. Neither do we understand how each member of our community brings their life experiences and social norms with them, or how that impacts us on a broad scale. We don’t look to historical examples or other communities to draw experience and learn from, and we don’t truly listen to each other, or get to know a little bit about each other beyond our ‘geometry’.

As a relationship style/orientation and as a community, polyamory is extremely young. But this gives us a great opportunity to change our current course and become a stronger community. The BDSM/Kink communities missed this point, and now find themselves scrambling to answer the question, “Why aren’t there more people of color showing up to events?” This is the biggest reason I’m writing this piece: I want to share my perspective, and in the process, open a new avenue into how my race and polyamory intersect....

(Read on)

Poly & Race: Poly & Boricua, by Elizabeth:

...I am 30 years old, Puerto Rican, and I live a polyamorous lifestyle. I live in the Bronx in New York with my Triad: Katherine, my wife, and Francis, my husband. We have been together for 8 months. My sister, Maggie, is also in a triad with her husband, Ray, and her wife Lisa. Together our triads form a family unit we have come to call The Polyfam....

The greatest benefit that I have seen in the melding between living this lifestyle and my culture has been the strong sense of family. I think many Latinos and Latinas will agree with me that family is everything to us. We are constantly in touch with one another, and everyone knows everyone else's business....

With such a large and close knit [poly] family as we have, no one is ever made to feel that they are alone. In this family, you always have someone to talk to and share with. My family (and my wife Katherine’s family) has heaped all kinds of love and affection on me and the Polyfam. And unless it has been expressed in advance that one or more of us wishes to be alone, we do everything together....

And family, for us (like many Latinos & Latinas), has to have a structure. I have seen many other Hispanic families fall apart due to the lack of a clear head of the household. In my family, we have always had a leader of the family. For the first few years of my life, my father was our family patriarch. But unfortunately, he passed away when I was very young, and there was no male of age in our family. So it fell to my aunt, Margaret, to take the reins as matriarch. She has kept the family stable for over 30 years now, and we would all be lost without her.

Since this whole adventure was my idea to begin with, I have taken the title of head of my family unit. I use the same model of family structure I grew up with in my Triad and The Polyfam: The Polyfam all turn to me for guidance and leadership, and we have all agreed that I have the final say in family matters. It has worked rather well for us and to date, we see no reason for changing that policy. And while historically speaking, our culture has been male dominated, having a female in charge has proven to be even more stable (for my family, at least). In fact, the few males we have seem more than content to have the women running the show. As my husband Francis says: "I have seen the boss' job, and I don't want it!" And in keeping with the trend of poly family units being full of strong women to begin with, this form of matriarchy seems to work out well for the Polyfam as a whole.

But not everyone understands our form of family unit. Some members of my larger Puerto Rican family & culture have a really hard time accepting my poly lifestyle. Most of my family (and my wife Katherine’s family), like most Hispanics, is steeped in the Roman Catholic Church. It has taken some of the family time to get used to the idea of a triad instead of a "traditional" married couple....

...Another great way to address our acceptance has been to play on my Puerto Rican culture’s feelings about having children. When Katherine approached me and Francis about wanting another baby, it was a Godsend!... Having a child is a basic REQUIREMENT of a stable home and family within the context of our culture. It has worked beautifully to the advantage of the entire Polyfam, and made all of the Polyfam and extended family very happy....

(Read more)

Poly & Race: Poly & Asian, by Bryan D.:

...My mother emigrated from Korea when she was 18 and became a naturalized citizen in the 1970’s. My father is Japanese, Austrian and Russian, but grew up with a Japanese mother while living in New York. Recently I asked my sister, “We’re not part of the Asian community and we’re not really even 2nd generation Asians. What the hell are we?”

And I’m Poly – or at least working on it....

I often joke with friends about being Asian or gripe about the things that my ‘Asian parents’ do. Although I’ll catch myself on the occasional stereotypical behavior, like my obsession with Anime, building Gundams, cooking with chopsticks or taking my shoes off whenever I enter someone’s home, I’ve always felt I’m not very Asian when compared to other “Asian Americans” in the Puget Sound....

But perhaps nowhere has “Asian culture” frustrated me so much as when interacting with my parents. In Asian culture (Korean and Japanese); families are very private and inscrutable. Asian families don’t talk about their problems; they sweep them under the rug. If ever my parents DO want to express their ‘disappointment’ with me, I have to visit them in their home, because they are embarrassed to discuss these things in public places. They have always communicated very passive aggressively and have very strict standards for being successful. First impressions and ’etiquette‘ are very important to them; if you screw up, they will hold a grudge forever and shame you with it for the rest of your life....

In some ways, I’ve felt that Poly culture and Asian culture are polar opposites. Asian culture, as I have experienced it, is very closed in and private, whereas Poly culture encourages openness and communication. If anything, my upbringing in “Asian” culture primed and pushed me into Poly culture because they are so opposite. When I was growing up, I thought life was a formula: graduate high school, graduated college, get a high paying job, get married, start a family, and die. But my life opened up when I moved back to the city and started college: I had an epiphany about how I wanted to live and what I wanted to strive for....

...Polyamory depends on direct, open communication, negotiation, boundary setting and meeting needs. As a poly individual, I choose what rules govern my lifestyle and I create my community through my own choices and effort. If don’t communicate my needs, or negotiate agreements and discuss boundaries, my relationships will fail and I won’t have a ‘community’ or ‘support group’ to fall back on. I think that’s one reason clear and direct communication, and honest intentions are imperative in Poly culture. In this way, Poly culture is scary, but it is also freeing. It’s like living the American Dream for me: I can live the life I want and be happy if I work hard enough....

(Read more)

Poly & Race: Poly & Chicana, by Avie Saenz.

I am Chicana.

I am polyamorous.

I am queer.

Chicana is not race; not by certain political markers. Like queer, it's also a political identity; you can be of Mexican heritage and not call yourself Chican@. You can be homosexual and not call yourself queer. You can be in an open relationship and not call yourself polyamorous. There are differences, nuances of declaration and intent that I need for you to distinguish, when I identify as a polyamorous queer Chicana. These are the words that describe me; I declare them quietly.

...I pass quietly through my life, but never in denial. I live my identity; it is me. I don't need to introduce myself so fully to everyone I meet, but I will never deny myself. It is a liminal space, and I am always having to recontextualize what it means to be myself. As Gloria Anzaldua said, to occupy this liminal 'borderland' space leaves you "caught in the crossfire between camps, while carrying all"; I carry a lot here, in my personage and in the check boxes on demographic surveys. I occupy a space of crossroads, refusing to be any less than the sum of myself.

...My mother is an academic. She made me acutely aware of the dearth of representative role models for brown girls. At the very least, she taught me about Frida Kahlo, who aside from being brown like me, was also queer like me, and was nonmonogamous. As a youth, to be Chicana meant that I had Frida, and her terror, and her art.

...Coming out as polyamorous was among the scariest things I have done in my life.... You might ask why I would owe anyone an explanation then, but being open with my mother is something I'd always relied upon -- and who is anyone to tell me, an adult woman, that my happiness is invalid?

Still, my mother had no reassuring books or characters for me to feel secure about before I found my own reflection in them. Frida Kahlo wasn't monogamous, but she was known for cheating and despair, not happiness or consent with her husband. I was terrified about coming out; I was afraid I would finally cross all lines and borders from just being different, into being unacceptable....

..."We love you no matter who you love. You may bring anyone you want into your family, and we will support you," [my mother] said....

I asked my mother how it was that despite the noted social conservatism, that I keep seeing other Chican@ families opening up and welcoming their children of all walks of life.

“M'ija, the world is hard for us, and at the very least, we have each other. And that ends up mattering more than anything else.”

And more than anything else, even being polyamorous and queer, my family and my Chicana heritage has given me somewhere that I matter, somewhere I am loved, and I intend to keep sharing that with the polyfamily I am building.

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Also of note:

The Poly People of Color Facebook page and Tumblr website.

The host of the NeoBlaqness show asks, "Why Are Polyamorists Mostly White?"