Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

February 23, 2013

One-hour poly documentary airs
March 5 on Oprah Winfrey Network

Our America with Lisa Ling

Oprah Winfrey's people have been sniffing around the edges of the poly community for years, but they never did a show, and they were apparently working under an edict not to allow the word "polyamory" on the air if they did. I wondered why? Too Greeky-Latiny? Too scandalous? Would it be too much like an endorsement to call it by its real name?

That's water under the bridge now. Last August, the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Our America with Lisa Ling" contacted Robyn Trask, director of the Loving More nonprofit, about doing a show on poly people. Trask checked out their previous handlings of alt-sex topics, found them good, and agreed to help them locate people.

The resulting one-hour show is called "I Love You & You...& You." It will air Tuesday March 5th (moved up from the 12th) at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, 9 Central. It will re-air two hours later, and again on subsequent dates. Schedule. Channel finder.

The program will feature three polyfamilies: Trask and her life partner Jesus V. Garcia and their partners and kids, an outspoken young quint in the Philadelphia area, and a triad in Vancouver whom I know less about.

Jesus, Robyn, John
Members of the first two groups were among the 180 people at Loving More's Poly Living conference in Philadelphia last month, and they shared what they could in advance. Robyn, Jesus, and two of their kids (a teen and an adult) were favorably impressed with Ling and her film crew, who followed them around their Colorado home and community for three days. "Overall it was a fun experience and very different from other TV crews I have worked with," says Robyn.

One of the Philadelphia group is well-known on the poly internets as Shaunphilly, an atheist-skeptic humanist who runs the Polyskeptic blog. There, he writes,

Polyskeptic is about to OWN you!

We here at polyskeptic have been involved, over the last few months, with a project that will hit reality in just a few weeks. Over a few days, separated by some weeks, there were cameras, a camera crew, and even a person whose name you might recognize — Lisa Ling — in our home in order to ask us questions about being polyamorous....

Now, we have no way of knowing what kind of response we will get from friends and family or the polyamorous community itself. We will have an opportunity to find out what some of the polyamorous community has to say right after it airs, as [two weekends] after it airs we will be in Atlanta for the Atlanta Poly Weekend conference March 15-17. Whether we will be minor celebrities, run out of town with flaming torches and pitchforks, or merely treated as a few schmucks who were on TV once is yet to be seen. My guess is that we will be world-famous, wealthy, and more awesome than we already are overnight.

I may be biased....

I got a chance to meet Kamala Devi and Michael McClure from last year’s Showtime series at the Poly Living Conference.... My recent experience in interacting with [folks at Poly Living] has made it clear how many polyamorous people appreciate the exposure of this lifestyle, as coming out as polyamorous can be a real concern for many people. We, here at polyskeptic, have not hid our identities, and now that we are about to be on television (even if only on a cable channel many people don’t watch) we will have little choice about being out to the world. This privilege of ours is not universal, and for the same reasons atheists need to be out of the closet when they can, the same is true for polyamorous people.

I hope that you all watch, and I would be interested in feedback about the episode, which we have not seen yet.

Here is his original post (Feb. 15, 2013). It includes the season-promo video clip from which this still of the group is taken; Shaun is second from the right:

The quint you'll soon be meeting.

Gina, in the center, posted about coming out at work in preparation for the show:

Being Honest About Loving More

“So…I figured I should just come in here and say something before I lost my nerve to say it…”

I sat down in the chair next to my boss’ desk, felt awkward for a second and then just bulldozed through it.

Gina in foreground. Click for readable enlargement.
“Well, my family and I are going to be featured in a documentary next month about alternative lifestyles… namely, non-monogamy. Wes and I each have long-term partners outside of our marriage. They live with us. My boyfriend’s wife also lives with us. It doesn’t really have anything to do with work, but I figured it was about time that I came clean so that I didn’t have to hide my life anymore.”

He took it very well. It didn’t particularly seem to faze him in the least.

“Cool!” he said, “Seriously, if it makes you happy and doesn’t cause a problem at work, it doesn’t matter to me at all.”

I chatted for a bit about the documentary and how hilarious and sometimes stressful the process was, and then we talked a bit about some work projects, and I went on back to my desk.

A few minutes later I came out to two more coworkers with whom I have worked for years. The reception was similar. One was pretty quiet about it, but ultimately seems to be OK. The other had a ton of questions and I made it clear that no questions were off limits, that he could ask about whatever he wanted.

I went out to lunch today with another coworker and told her. She took it well too and was happy that I felt comfortable enough to open up to her about such things.

I live a charmed life.


...[At Poly Living's closing ceremonies] I was made aware how important being out is to a community such as this.

Robyn Trask, the head honcho over at Loving More, called Shaun and I out into the center of the room to tell everyone that we were some of the people who would be in the documentary (her family is also being featured). We got a round of applause and some comments from people thanking us for being willing to be out like that…to have our lives put on display so that people can know the awesomeness that is poly family.

I hadn’t really realized what a relatively big deal the documentary might be, and I hadn’t considered that it was somewhat special of us to agree to participate. Perhaps it’s that I blog a lot about my personal life or perhaps because I have grown up being on stage that I don’t always remember how hard it is to put yourself out there. Don’t get me wrong…I have been nervous about the documentary.... My mind went to the worst places. I began to fear that I would lose my job: Gina fired for being peculiar.... I went through with it anyway though because I knew that it was important. Visibility is important to movements and there is most certainly a polyamory movement in our midst…one that needs strong and confident voices and those who have the privilege to be able to share their lives with the public without fear.

...Next month our family will be heading down to Atlanta for the Atlanta Poly Weekend, and I am looking really forward to it. Not only will it be my birthday weekend (and we will likely be meeting a whole host of awesome fun people to celebrate my turning 32 with), but we might be semi-celebrities there, which might be pretty entertaining. But most importantly, I will be able to enjoy it as a fully integrated member of the community, someone living honestly and out as a polyamorous person…a person who would be so much worse off if the support system a polyamorous life has offered me were not here. I can speak knowing that I am not hiding anywhere anymore, and that is a pretty nice birthday present to give myself.

Read her whole post (Feb. 11, 2013).

The Philadelphia quint.

The full show may eventually become available on the web after its initial airings; check here.


Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This woman's experience is the same as mine; I feel like most people are very pleasantly curious when encountering non-monogamous people. I'm more likely to get discrimination from people who are going through some kind of defensive reaction about poly, i.e. "I couldn't bring myself to share a partner and lost him/her" or somesuch...

February 24, 2013 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do indeed lead a charmed life! I lost a job over trying to come out at work. Now that I've been burned and I'm looking for steady employment, I don't dare tell anyone I don't plan on dating.

February 24, 2013 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, you can meet Shaun and his partners at this year's Atlanta Poly Weekend, March 15-17 in Atlanta, GA.


February 27, 2013 9:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you, Alan,
for the work you put into this article.
I recommended it - and the show - on my german poly-blog under a title that would translate as: Polyamory Media Event of the Week :-)

March 04, 2013 8:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home