Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 31, 2013

"Sexy spring: How group sex will liberate Iran, China"


Wilhelm Reich, publishing in 1930s Germany, was right: Sexual freedom and, we might add, poly awareness are fundamentally subversive of fascist and other politically repressive cultures.

A huge, 6,300-word article has appeared at Salon, excerpted from Katherine Frank's new book Plays Well In Groups: A Journey Through The World Of Group Sex, which was issued last month by the academic publisher Rowman & Littlefield:

Sexy spring: How group sex will liberate Iran, China

Book coverIt's a neo-conservative nightmare: In Iran and China, Western sexual values are bringing about real change.

By Katherine Frank

When Iranian American anthropologist Pardis Mahdavi first visited Tehran in the summer of 2000, she expected to encounter the Iran she grew up imagining.... [But] during repeated visits, Mahdavi found that despite the strict moral policies of the Islamic Republic, young Iranians were listening to music, dancing, drinking alcohol, and socializing in new ways....

Like youth in other countries who lack private spaces to retreat to, some Iranian youth reported having sex at parties and in cars (which sometimes allowed them to escape the morality police) out of necessity. But some also purposely sought group sex. Shomal, in northern Iran, had a reputation as a popular destination for these sexual explorations. One informant told Mahdavi that young men and women “go there, deep in the jungle, and have lots of sex, with lots of people; it’s really something to see. I love it.” Another young man said: “Have I ever had group sex? Well, yes, with a few women at a time, but who hasn’t done that? But I’ve watched really elaborate orgies too.” He had observed “a big group orgy in Shomal,” after being convinced to attend by a girl he knew.

Although Mahdavi did not visit Shomal, she attended other sex parties in Iran. One evening, she accompanied her friend Babak to a party held in a huge garden with beautiful hanging trees. “Welcome to the jungle,” a young man said as he greeted her. After stripping off her Islamic dress, including her head scarf and manto, she followed the men further into what felt like “the hanging gardens of Babylon.” Babak squeezed her arm and whispered into her ear, “Take a deep breath, Pardis.”...

Another sex party Mahdavi attended was held at a garden estate outside of Tehran, hosted by a young woman whose parents had gone on religious pilgrimage to Mecca....

When talking about their weekend adventures, some of Mahdavi’s informants focused on the recreational aspect of the parties.... Others viewed the parties as a representation of “all things Western,” a way of gaining status and claiming a cosmopolitan identity; some also expressed ideas about sex as freedom that harked back to ideas underlying the sexual revolution in the United States. Still others claimed parties offered escape and “eased the pain” of living in Iran. As one man said, “Sex is the main thing here; it’s our drug, it’s what makes our lives bearable, that’s what makes parties so necessary.” “If we don’t live like this, we cannot exist in the Islamic Republic,” a woman declared. “We hate our government, despise our families, and our husbands make us sick."...

But the new sexual culture in Iran, Mahdavi believes, is not simply an embrace of Western consumerism and morality nor merely an escapist hedonism, a “last resort.” Urban young adults, the focus of Mahdavi’s inquiry, made up about two-thirds of Iran’s population; they were mobile, highly educated, underemployed, and dissatisfied with the political regime at the time. Some were directly involved in politics. Many used the Internet to make connections, blog about their frustrations, and peer into youth cultures elsewhere around the world. Willingly taking risks with their social and sexual behavior, as these Iranian young people were doing, was viewed as a step toward social and political reform — not just a means of escape and excitement.


Contemporary sex partying is often thought to be linked to the spread of Western values and practices even while taking on local forms and meanings.... Some sex partying is certainly related to processes of globalization....

Sometimes, sex partying draws on Western symbols, themes, or discourses regardless of where it takes place. As I was finishing this manuscript, I had the opportunity to talk with a Pakistani businessman at a rooftop bar in Los Angeles. We drank mojitos while he told me about underground “key parties” in Pakistan....

...But sex parties aren’t just Western creations. Group sex has been depicted in art and literature for centuries, and some of those portrayals are celebratory....

Over the years I researched this book, I also heard tales about secret group sex parties for men in the South Pacific and rental houses in Dubrovnik serving as temporary, mobile sex clubs. Films about swinging in Israel and India appeared. The electronic dance music scene, with its focus on multiple sources of sensory intensity, has spread around the world. Three-day events, club drugs, and sensation-seeking youth seem to beget after-parties and group sex wherever they coalesce. Unfortunately, it remains difficult to find participants from non-Western countries willing to talk about their recreational experiences with group sex. Mahdavi’s scholarly account is a rare find.


In early 2010, Ma Yaohai [in China] was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Debate over Ma’s conviction was heated. One commentator, Ming Haoyue, insisted that group sex is “decadent behavior” that challenges social morality and adversely affects “the normal social order, thus hindering the pursuit of the majority of people for good behaviors.” Haoyue further observed, “Chaotic, indulgent sexual activities may fuel other evils.” A blogger charged Ma with inciting “social chaos”: “You led a 22-person orgy. You have destroyed ethics and morality.” Chinese sexologist and activist Li Yinhe protested the verdict in the media, however, arguing that criminal laws against “group licentiousness, prostitution, and obscene products (pornography),” all victimless sexual crimes, were draconian remnants of the Cultural Revolution. Experts estimate that fewer than one hundred thousand Chinese participate in group sex, although a chat forum dedicated to swinging on the website “Happy Village” has more than 380,000 registered members....

...Western swingers don’t risk hard labor in prison, death by hanging, or exile. Perhaps this is part of the reason swingers have a reputation for being fairly politically conservative. Outside of radical utopian communities, early social science literature on swinging in the United States found participants to hold “general white suburban attitudes.”

...[yet] sexual practices have been linked to ideals of personal and social transformation in societies throughout history. Sex, as play, can become a way of learning about oneself and others. It can become a way of reimagining oneself. In certain contexts, sexual practice can also become a way of reimagining the world, sparking revolutionary hopes. As group sex involves relations of witnessing and being witnessed, it is uniquely and powerfully positioned to serve such purposes. Group sex is ripe as transgression and often promises transcendence — although it does not always deliver either.... Just consider: If a twenty-two-person orgy can “destroy” the ethics and morality of a country with a population of more than a billion, it’s a powerful weapon of social change. Or, at least, it feels like one to some people.

...Sexual experimentation alone, Mahdavi cautions, does not automatically transform society. But the disenchantment that had been building in Iran, along with the fact that people had begun stealing moments of freedom and pleasure, created changes in their thoughts and actions — not just around sex, but toward everyday life more generally — that did spread to the political realm.


...Whether increasing openness about sexuality is best seen a precursor to the Arab Spring or a consequence of the ensuing regime changes is debated, but sexuality is linked to visions of change put forth on both sides of the struggles....

Read the whole article (July 28, 2013).


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July 29, 2013

The Washingtonian magazine:
"Married But Not Exclusive"

The glossy, trendy city magazine of Washington, DC, is just out with its August issue, which contains a much-awaited feature on area couples in open and poly marriages. One of the few people identified by her real name is Anita Wagner Illig, a DC polyactivist who recruited three couples for the writer. "I gave it a fast read standing in CVS and what I see thus far looks good," she writes. "I think Brooke treated the subject fairly."


Married, But Not Exclusive

For some couples, one relationship is not enough

By Brooke Lea Foster

Kyle didn’t like the idea of watching his wife have sex with another man. While he wasn’t the jealous type — he could watch his wife flirt with another guy and not feel a thing — voyeurism didn’t turn him on.

But the rules of marriage were forever changed for Kyle, a stay-at-home dad, and his wife, Hope, a psychotherapist, when they decided to open their marriage to other romantic and sexual partners. It was Hope’s idea.

...That’s how Kyle found himself in the bedroom of another man two years ago; he’d insisted on tagging along on Hope’s date. Kyle, 42, prides himself on being a loving husband, and he wanted to make sure another man would treat his wife respectfully, tenderly even, during sex. “He’s very protective of me,” says Hope, 36.

This is the point at which most people start looking for holes in Kyle and Hope’s marriage, reasons why having multiple partners doesn’t make sense — or, for the less open-minded, why this suburban couple is off their rocker: Are they unhappy? Their sex life must be bad. They’ve got to be into some kinky stuff, right? But the answer — they swear — is no, no, and no.

Kyle and Hope have been married ten years. They have two little boys, a nice home in Alexandria, and a close relationship. They have sex no more than any other couple chasing around two kids does, but they are in love....

“We saw it all as a big experiment,” Kyle says. “We wanted to try it out and see what it was like.”

He struggled in the beginning. While Hope seemed to meet new boyfriends easily, Kyle hadn’t been confident dating in his twenties. Suddenly he was back to standing awkwardly at parties trying to make conversation with women. He scrolled through the “polyamorous” listings on Craigslist and OkCupid, looking for women open to dating multiple people at once. He tried to remember how to flirt....

Then he met Jane — a five-foot-ten, curvy woman with dirty-blond hair — at a party for polyamorous people. “We just clicked,” he says.... Hope encouraged Kyle; she really liked Jane....

...This is how he puts it: “If you look at the relationship Hope and I have, sex was the main connector. If I wanted sex, I had to get it from her. But when we could sleep with anyone, sex was no longer a reason to stay together.... Suddenly, we were asking ourselves: Why am I with this person now, if not for sex? That’s why this experience has made our relationship so much stronger. I’m still with Hope because I love her. She’s wonderful. We have children together. We built a life together. Sex is just one aspect of why we stay together.”

And sex is only one reason why couples practice polyamory. The word means “many loves,”...


Polyamorists don’t think monogamy is wrong; they simply believe it’s not for everyone. But hearing “poly” couples speak of monogamy is like listening to an ex-con reflect on his years in prison....

Surprisingly, [sociologist Elisabeth] Sheff says, it’s often the women who flourish most in polyamory. Females tend to enjoy developing emotional connections with other partners more than men do, and they like the leverage it gives them in their marriage.

“A husband can’t do what he likes day to day and get away with it,” Sheff says. “Suddenly a wife has the power to vote with her feet.” For example, while a monogamous wife isn’t going to file for divorce because her husband didn’t load the dishwasher, a poly woman might feel annoyed and head to her boyfriend’s house to vent. Child care tends to be shared more equally because both partners are suddenly scheduling dates on a social calendar. Plus, women have the pick of the litter because there are fewer polyamorous women than men....

...“If you can derive joy from other people’s joy, even when you’re not the cause, then you can be poly,” [Kyle] says. “If not, you’re going to be at odds with it. It would have been very selfish of me to be upset at that moment. But I wouldn’t have known that unless I tried it.”

The long, 3,000-word article is not on the magazine's website. UPDATE: Now it is (July 30, 2013).

A comment from me. All of the people we see in the article are married couples embedded in conventional society. The article might have acknowledged that this is just one branch of poly, and that many other people treat it more radically — life-hacking new ways of community and tribal living for themselves and their intimates, farther outside of mainstream ways and assumptions.

I say this after coming back from 10 days at the Network for a New Culture's annual Summer Camp East not too far from DC. Summer Camp is an experiment in creating radically new ways of social relating based on transparency, curiosity, intimacy, compassionate sharing, self-examination, self-responsibility, and directness — helped along by busy sharing of work and play, daily ZEGG Forum, workshop presenters coming through to offer their stuff, and a pretty open sexuality among some of those mutually inclined. If I have seen the future, this version of it is damn impressive and I want to live there. Many of us found it sad and disorienting to drive away afterward back into the Dark Ages.

Kamala Devi and her partner Michael gave a workshop on polyamory at Summer Camp. She said that if there's one piece of advice she would offer for making poly succeed, it's this: "You need a tribe." You need a close community providing wisdom and support. That is quite missing from the worldview of the Washingtonian article.


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July 26, 2013

What's Coming Up on Showtime's Polyamory, Season 2

The San Diego quad returns with new offshoots. From left: Tahl, Jen, Kamala, and Michael.

A new poly family, and new developments in an old one: After months of silence, the Showtime network has loosened up a little about some of what we're going to see on Season 2 of its reality series Polyamory: Married & Dating.

The series debuted a year ago and became a milestone in portraying actual poly family relationships to a mainstream TV audience. Season 1 is currently rerunning late on Thursday nights; schedule. (Showtime subscribers can also watch the seven Season 1 episodes online anytime.) Season 2 will begin August 15th at 11 p.m. ET/PT, the week after the reruns finish.

The new season will follow a new group of three. It will also pick up the evolving story of last season's San Diego quad consisting of Kamala Devi, Michael, Jennifer, and Tahl, who have had new developments since we last saw them. The title of Episode 1, "A New Chapter," reflects this.


As it happens, I just got back from spending 10 days with Kamala Devi, Michael, their 6-year-old son Devin, and about 65 other people at the Network for a New Culture's annual Summer Camp East in the woods of Mount Storm, West Virginia.

Kamala and Michael led several workshops at the camp, including a Liberating Your Love Life presentation in the big geodesic dome among the oaks and hemlocks, and an evening Tantra Puja (white, pink, and red) in the smaller Temple Dome a quarter mile deeper into the woods by the rushing Abrams Creek. They did yeomen's work helping run the kids' program and covering the Kids' Cabin so other parents could attend workshops and events; provided key support and insights as members of the Camp Counselors Team dealing with issues that arose; and served as skilled ZEGG Forum facilitators. (Forum is a central practice to New Culture.) I'd met them before at poly hotel conferences. But observing them for more than a week sharing work, perceptions, and emotions with our collection of intimates in close rustic conditions, I gained new appreciation for their character and depth and the devotion that they bring to our best ideals.

So please be aware, folks, that what you see on TV is only a cropped and compressed snapshot, a fast sketch, of who they really are.

Over lunch at Summer Camp, sitting at the crowded eating tables under the trees, I asked them how Season 2 will differ from Season 1. Kamala Devi (she uses that as her first name) promised to address this in the announcement post she was drafting. Devin, who overheard the question, eagerly delivered his answer on the spot: "We went to different places, and we did different stuff." And, "I played my violin!"

Now they've finally got clearance from Showtime to post that announcement:

The San Diego Poly family (AKA the Pod) will be back for the second season. Kamala Devi, Michael, Jennifer and Tahl are happy to be working with Showtime again so they can give the world a deeper look into what it’s really like to sustain multiple long term loving relationships.

We are proud of the creator/ executive producer/ director Natalia Garcia who searched high and low to find real polyamory families who were willing to share their stories. By personally speaking with a wide range of people in alternative open relationships, Natalia did a lot of valuable first-hand research on how different people do polyamory.

Showtime had a hard time finding families who were willing to let the cameras follow them into their bedrooms because of the repercussions this might have on their work, family, friends, etc. However, Natalia was devoted to showing sexuality because it is such an important and natural part of the poly dynamic. Besides, it’s the area of our lives that people are curious about, and we are excited to give our viewers intimate details. Fortunately Natalia found a beautiful and courageous family who are willing to share their unique perspective on polyamory, and we are happy to be working with them to change the predominant social narrative.

The first media interview question we got was from Polyamorous Blogger Alan M. at Polyamory in the News: ”What is the biggest difference between the first season and the second season?”

...The biggest difference is that I feel our audience is ready to go deeper now. When Natalia first began working on the show, it seemed nobody in the mainstream even knew what the word polyamory meant. Many people were afraid to come out on camera, and we were denied access to film at a lot of locations. The docu-series was designed to introduce people to a whole new lifestyle and open their minds to see that monogamy is not the only option.

Though controversial, the first season got great ratings, a lot of media attention, and paved the way for many people to come out of the Poly Closet.... Now that Season 1 broke the sound barrier, it makes it easier for people to be more vulnerable on Season 2. Since we no longer have the burden of explaining what polyamory is, the show is less preachy and more about the ins and outs of navigating polyamory.

The new season's Episode 1, "A New Chapter," will re-air several times in the week after its debut; schedule.

For more news see Showtime’s site for the series, with some stills from the first episode.

To keep up with personal details about the San Diego family, subscribe to their Facebook Fanpage.

Here's where to find video trailers for Season 2 once they go up.

Here are all the trailers for Season 1.

Here's my own previous stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices by other media.


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July 25, 2013

"How another couple’s open marriage changed the way I look at sex forever"

AOL / Purple Clover

"This article was from a link on AOL’s home page," Michael Rios wrote this morning. "It doesn’t mention `polyamory’, and is more about open relationships than multiple ones, but the direction this person is heading in seems clear."

It first appeared in the online magazine Purple Clover (for middle-agers "primed for life – still cool, still curious, still a little crazy").

Finally Embracing Desire

How another couple’s open marriage changed the way I look at sex forever

By Monique Ruffin

...The older I get and the more my sexual encounters are choice-driven — rather than hormone-driven — the greater my confusion. Add to that religious piety, divorce and attachment syndrome (a belief that I can't live without a particular individual), I often feel like a tangled and twisted knot impossible to unravel.

I felt it begin to loosen the first time I came across Kenya Stevens on Facebook talking about “open-relating” and open marriage. I had recently been divorced. Her idea of “open-relating” really resonated with me — the concept of sharing your whole self and being your most authentic self with your partner felt like magic.

The impact of this idea was obviously appealing because of the conflicts I had never resolved. On the outside, I was conservative in my demeanor. On the inside, I was swinging from the chandelier, sexually assertive and wild. The collision of these two worlds started early in my life. While I felt deeply erotic and uncontrollably sexual, I was also a devout Christian. I felt profoundly spiritual and in love with all things holy, sacred and godly. Would I go to hell? Was I a whore?

Meeting Kenya and her husband Carl in person was the beginning of my journey to explore those feelings.... Kenya embraced me with a big juicy hug. It felt fantastic. After she sat down, her husband Carl walked toward me, enveloping me in his embrace and his energy. I felt myself melt into him and he held me for what seemed like an extraordinary amount of time.

I was nervous because his wife was sitting right there, but she was eating her food and never once lifted her head to see what was happening between her husband and me. In that moment, I fully surrendered into his embrace.

...Several weeks ago, Carl and Kenya were visiting Los Angeles again and I met them for sushi. The evening was relaxed and as it wound down, Kenya decided that she wanted to have company in their hotel room that did not include her husband. I impulsively invited Carl to stay with me, and he agreed.

We drove to my house in separate cars. I was excited and nervous at the same time. There were no secrets, no cheating and no sin. There was also no expectation that I needed to “perform” or “give it to him good,” with the hope that he'd fall in love and choose me. I could just be myself....

For the next few days, I watched myself as many old beliefs dissolved. The first to go was my need to feel like I’m “special.” This need had fogged my desire for love and acceptance, preventing me from offering my true self in relationships. I’d preferred to disguise myself as whatever I thought my partner desired so that he would make me the most special love.

Second, my belief that monogamy is the only and best path has vanished. Today, I’m actually questioning whether I am truly monogamous. This is a big shift for me, and the jury is still out. Finally, I’m feeling freer to accept my erotic nature. My desire and sexual curiosity are becoming something I love and cherish, as opposed to something I hide and am ashamed of.

I never thought I would actually place myself, at forty-five, on a new road to self-discovery that would challenge something so core to my way of being. But I’ve decided that being myself and honoring the call to be sexually expressed as a sensual woman is not only okay, it’s paramount.

Read the whole article (July 11, 2013), and add to the comments; they need help.

A discussion broke out on the Polyamory Leadership Network list. One person wrote, "What struck me when I was reading the article is how I tend to 'see it' in the context of polyamory, whereas the author may not be headed there at all. She may be, but she seems to be focusing on understanding her 'ME' more than connecting and relating with her sexual partners."

To which Michael replied,

"I see this as even better than a poly-focused article. Polyamory may never be mainstream, but if open relationships are accepted as mainstream, then polyamory becomes a footnote. I love it when the open relationship/polyamory aspect is not the theme of an article, but rather just a background point that supports a larger/different story. That is a huge step forward.

"If polyfolk were all just good friends, or extended family, no one would think twice about it, and the social disapproval would not exist. The challenge comes from our rejection of mainstream sexual norms. As open marriage becomes accepted, poly will be seen as just one form of that. I try to keep in mind that we are working for “freedom of choice in romantic, intimate, and sexual relationships”, not to promote any one form of that."


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July 23, 2013

Break in polyfamily's child murder case: Teen neighbor shoots police as they arrest him for the killing.

The Alanna Gallagher murder case — see previous post — seems solved. Alanna was the 6-year-old daughter of an MFM polyfamily in Saginaw, Texas. She was kidnapped and killed on July 1st. Suspicion hung everywhere, though police said the three parents were not considered serious suspects. Then last Friday, someone torched the family's car next to the house.

This just in:

SAGINAW — An Arlington police officer who was serving a warrant against a suspect in the Alanna Gallagher murder case was shot Tuesday morning and is in serious condition at a local hospital, authorities said.

The suspect, a 17-year-old male, was also shot. Police would not release his name, but neighbors say he is Tyler Holder. Holder’s home, at 649 Babbling Brook Drive, is just two houses down from where Alanna had lived with her parents, Karl and Laura Gallagher and Miles McDaniel.

Katherine Chaumont, an FBI spokeswoman, said officers had knocked on the suspect’s door about 9 a.m. and engaged the suspect. She said an altercation erupted, the suspect pulled out a gun, and an exchange of gunfire followed.

...Linda McDaniel, Alanna’s grandmother, said that family members had not known that investigators suspected the teen neighbor.

Asked whether her son, Miles McDaniel, or the Gallaghers were acquainted with Holder, McDaniel said, “I didn’t get the impression that they know him.”

McDaniel said her granddaughter had been taught about “stranger danger” but it would not surprise her if the bubbly, outgoing girl did not consider a neighborhood teen a threat.

“I’m afraid that maybe she equated strangers with somebody she didn’t know that approached her rather than somebody she knew by sight,” McDaniel said. “She has two older siblings so she knew a lot of the families and the kids in the neighborhood. It was a pretty relaxed neighborhood that they felt safe in.”...

The whole article (July 23, 2013).

Here's a Google News search for the latest reports, with the most recent on top.

Update: TV interview: Parents of murdered girl speak out after suspect's arrest.

Update July 27: A pretty complete roundup of the case in today's Dallas Morning News.

Update September 4, 2014: Tyler Holder pled guilty today and received a sentence of life in prison. He also got 40 years for attempted murder of the policeman and 20 years for setting the car on fire. News story.


July 14, 2013

Actual Poly Advice Columns!

As I promised a few weeks ago in a roundup of advice columnists fielding poly questions, here are some actual poly advice columns by people who live the life they're advising about.

In no particular order:

● The Kimchi Cuddles comic has started taking Ask Kimchi questions every Sunday:

(Used by permission)

● Goddess of Java, aka Noel Figart, has for nine years run one of my favorite advice sites, The Polyamorous Misanthrope ("wielding the stick of grandmotherly kindness"). It includes a category for reader questions, Ask the Misanthrope. She's lived many years of the good, bad, and ugly of poly life and dishes consistent good sense, sometimes when it's a clout upside the head. Yet she is helpful and kind to babes-in-the-woods, respectful of people's lack of knowledge as opposed to stupidity. Here are her 10 most popular columns last year. Here's her meta-advice post, Where Do You Get Your Polyamory Advice?

● Polycule often turns her Polycule blog into an advice column:

Q: I got my wife into polyamory. She eventually found another love. That's cool. What isn't is that his philosophy is not the polyamorous kind and keeps forcing mono values onto their relationship. He is also a "non-sexist" sexist who drops constant comments on how she does something very well "for a chick". They share few values. He plays mind games meant to take from our relationship! I don't want to affect her decisions, but... How do I protect myself while not disrespecting her?!!

You’ll have to talk to her in a very patient, gentle, loving, and supportive way.

While there are some people who practice polyamory with the agreement that you can have a say in who your partner dates, I won’t be endorsing that.... However, you also have rights and freedom here, like the right to feel comfortable in your own marriage, and if outside factors (partners) are affecting that, you need to talk about it. The tricky thing is to talk about your feelings without putting her in a corner that’ll make her feel defensive or unsupported. Remember, these are YOUR feelings, NOT a commentary on her relationship, and there’s a fine line to be balanced to make sure you aren’t implying otherwise.

...Ask her when is a good time to have a talk about relationships, and make time for it.... Explain what makes you uncomfortable, that it isn’t a matter of wanting to get between her and her partner, but you have your own feelings to look out for.... Just because you think he makes inappropriate sexist comments doesn’t mean she has an issue with them. Just because you don’t think they share values doesn’t mean that bothers her.... Stick to talking about the things that affect you and your relationship with her, like the playing mind games to take her time away from you. Don’t make blanket statements like that, though; specifically talk about times it actually happened....

...The other issue you have here, and perhaps it was just poor word choice, is that you say you “got her into polyamory.” This may mean she’s not totally thrilled about it, which would drive her to a monogamy-minded person because she may be that way also....

Ask PolyAnna is an occasional feature at Lucar and PolyAnna's Looking Through.Us blog:

Q: As a “secondary” involved with a married poly man, how do I stay informed/involved in his serious medical condition (which will involve surgery) without stepping on anybody’s toes or seeming too pushy? I am concerned & scared & just need to be included.

So… PolyAnna dislikes the ordinal number system when it comes to relationships. Does she have a better classification system in her head, yes, yes she does; does it work for everyone, no, no it doesn’t. That said, in your situation, what exactly does ["secondary"] mean? Legally, you aren’t his wife, so right there the law and some hospitals limit your visitation rights and access to vital information from the word go. This can be mitigated with legal documents or other formalized agreements....

That aside, I think your relationship with your partner’s wife will greatly impact how this situation functions. What are your existing relationship agreements? Is it time to modify those agreements?... If there is an uncomfortable truce, or a pretty thick wall of silence between you and your partner’s wife, I think this could prove a difficult situation. Are you all collectively out? Being public about your poly status will greatly impact this situation, now and going forward.

Once you sort that out, ask yourself, in very clear terms, what do I want and what am I willing to give....

...When people are dealing with serious medical issues, they aren’t always themselves. Periods of stress can make or break relationships. If all else fails, and you feel fairly confident that you aren’t going to make a tense situation worse, and your best efforts to help plan ahead for the day of surgery are rebuffed, come by during normal visiting hours. Bring something nice for your partner and his wife, bring something to eat, drink, occupy the time. Offer to take a walk with her, even if your relationship has been rocky at best, make the offer and be prepared for the door to get slammed, but offer. Be prepared, too, for her to say yes. Sometimes when people see love, really see it, when the going gets tough, they respond accordingly. For some, seeing really is believing.

● On the UK's Polytical website is Ask Polly. We are told, "Polly has scarlet hair, big green glasses, and is made almost entirely of cats."

Dear Polly,

How do I come out to my moderately conservative parents?

I’ve just spent the Christmas break biting my tongue whenever my love life and plans for the future come up, and it was driving me up the wall....

I have an established partner whom they know, and I’ve just started a second relationship. I’m thinking about bringing my established partner into the conversation, so they can communicate to my parents that they’re happy with the arrangement.

...Previous attempts to bring up the subject of non-monogamy in an abstract, ‘I’ve got this friend’ way have been met with disapproval: the words ‘immoral’ and ‘disrespectful’ were used and Mormons were alluded to.

Yours, Pathologically Honest

I’m inclined towards advising people to think twice before coming out. [But] here are a whole bunch of tips that can make your life easier if you decide that you do want to come out.

Have you come out before, for example, as queer? How did it go?...

Phrase this as something you’ve decided, for yourself, after lots of careful thought and conversation. Don’t let it turn into a debate about whether polyamory as a lifestyle is morally right or wrong: this is about you and your choices, and coming out is about getting them to understand and respect that....

If your established partner is a primary, emphasise that. Phrase it as being an open relationship, and that your partner is really important, and that you still intend on being with them long-term (if you do.) The idea here is to... surround your primary relationship with a white picket fence.

Don’t introduce too much new terminology....

If you have, you could mention that you’ve met and spoken with other people for whom this kind of thing has been working well for decades.

Be available to answer their questions: make plenty of time to do so, show that you’re adult and responsible and that you’ve thought a whole lot about this (and say that explicitly too.)

They probably haven’t come across open, honest, ethical non-monogamy before, and they’ll immediately associate the idea of open relationships with the occasional horror stories and rumours they’ve heard.... Don’t take this too personally: your aim is for them to hear and accept your choices. [Then] give them some space.

How To Support Yourself And Stay Safe

I’ve been recommending that you bend the truth and omit facts quite significantly, and occasionally that you lie. I know doing this just isn’t an option for many people. If you come out, out all the way, and tell them everything… it might be quite a lot for them to take. They may take it badly. Your relationship with them may change irreparably. I’m sorry. This is really hard.

I’m now going to say a bunch of what will sound like pretty scary stuff....

Are you dependent on them in any way, for example, financially? If you’re going to come out, get independent of them or be ready to become so quite quickly. They might cut you off. They might disown you. They might take it so badly that you won’t want to engage with them again. I’m sure they’re lovely, but you just don’t know. Be prepared to break up with them over this.

Think about physical space and safety. If you’re coming out in their house, do it on a day when you won’t be staying that night. Having your established partner there with you can really help keep things calm. Have a bag ready near the door in case things go badly and you need to leave. Keep your phone and wallet in your pocket in case you have to leave before then. Don’t be afraid to just walk out if they respond badly....

Beforehand, make arrangements to phone, or have coffee with, a friend who understands stuff immediately afterwards – take space to rant about all the awful stuff they said, to relax and de-stress.

Lastly, I’ll emphasise again: you don’t need to come out. This isn’t something you owe it to them to do.

Read the whole post.

Poly Pipeline includes "Dear Poly Dude" and "Dear Poly Chick" answers to readers' questions. For example:

Dear Poly Chick,

What do you think when you hear someone say, “I am poly”?

My instinctual reaction is, “poly what?”... My mind goes into a whole flurry of possibilities. Since most poly people are unique in their own way (we’re all unique snowflakes), I try not to make any assumptions of what their particular experiences of being poly are.... I tend to ask a lot of questions: How many partners do you have/want? What type of living situation or relationship structure(s) are you in? How long have you been poly? How did you come into polyamory? What does being poly mean to you?...

So, in a sense, I suppose my mind stays relatively blank, allowing the other person to slowly fill it with information as they see fit....

Heed that. Two people can mean very different things by "You're poly?! So am I!", aided and abetted by the Wishful Thinking Fairy applying her invisible blindfolds to both.

Ask Jennvicious is new anarchist advice column, "Life coaching and social etiquette for radical subcultures." She occasionally takes poly questions:



My warnings stem from my (educated, I’d like to think) opinion that polyamory only works when both partners are committed both to that relationship model AND to each other. Not in that I-bought-you-a-ring-and-filed-a-paper-with-the-government sort of committed, just committed to respecting each other’s needs, taking responsibility for our own feelings, and not cutting and running at the first sign of trouble.

It is very difficult to change to polyamory when one person in the relationship just isn’t excited about it. I would be curious as to why your partner has stated his opposition to it before. Maybe he has a really good reason, like a raging jealousy issue that he is unable or unwilling to control.... But maybe he’s just been burned before, or feels insecure about his partner not caring about him as much if they have other partners, or just basically doesn’t trust that he will get his needs met. Those are issues that you might be able to work together to address....

...You might also start talking about minor attractions you both feel to other people. This isn’t about acting on those attractions, it is more about acknowledging something that I think monogamous people sometimes forget: being in a relationship with someone does not mean that you never feel attracted to anyone else. It sometimes feels really healthy to get those feelings out into the open in a relationship. It also might bring up some of those issues of insecurities and things like that.... It’s kind of like practicing.

The most important thing, if you value your current relationship, is to take this whole process very slow. Give your partner the opportunity to think about things that he might get out of having an open relationship. Read things about polyamory together and talk about them.... Talk about things you’ve learned from your past experiences.... Ultimately, open relationships should be about creating our own models of relating to each other that work for each of us, not about forcing people to adapt to our whims.

Ask Polyamory Paradigm, an occasional blogger, invites you to "ask questions and find advice on polyamorous relationships or life."

My quad has just become a triad! Help!

My wife and I recently joined with another couple to form a MFMF quad. The two women are involved with each other lightly, along with being involved with both men. Things went well for a short time until I started to experience some jealousy. I initiated a conversation with my wife about slowing things down (she is falling deeply in love with the other guy) and things blew up. My wife is now staying with the other couple and nobody is talking to me! What should I do?

Your wife is deep in NRE (New Relationship Energy) so I'm not entirely surprised your conversation blew up. Most people in the middle of NRE seem to interpret anything negative or questioning of their new relationship as an attack and attribute it to jealousy, envy, or other negative drivers which they perceive as *your* problem, not theirs.... Focus on negotiating with your partner in a way that continues to support their new relationship.

As I see it you have two choices at this point: you can either support your spouse, or you can "drop a bomb" on things.

Dropping a bomb [means] you would ask your wife to discontinue her involvement in what is now a triad. Being in NRE, she is probably going to explode and reject the idea entirely. This is probably the quickest way to end your marriage and even if it doesn't, you haven't worked through the issues, you have avoided them.

Supporting your spouse is much more complicated and difficult. Probably the first thing to examine is why you feel left out? You have each attempted to have a relationship with someone new. Hers worked, yours didn't. Although it sucks we all know it happens, right? So the real question becomes: is it okay for your wife to have a relationship without you?

If you are practicing a more traditional form of polyamory the answer is probably Yes.... If you are able and would like to remain friends with the other couple, let her know that. Explain that although you feel hurt, rejected, disappointed, and are in emotional hell, you recognize her right and desire to continue her involvement with the other couple and support her completely.

The next part can be a bit tricky. Let her know that while you support her, you also need to feel supported. The other couple may not be able or willing to provide you any support right now, but you rely on her, as your wife, to support you in times of need. Ask her to try and divide her time fairly between you and the triad [DING DING DING! say I; "fairly" is a null concept in these things  --ed.] Suggest creating a calendar so you aren't surprised by time she wants to spend with the other couple. Communicate to her that what you are trying to accomplish is a negotiation that meets both your needs, and your only goal is to continue having a beautiful relationship with her while supporting her new relationship with the other couple....

And finally, go get your own life....

Modern Poly ("The pulse of the polyamory movement") is a big online magazine and resource center that's been making big strides lately. It had an Advice section with a past column by Annie Ory, Hey Annie!, and Ask RaeRay.

● Angi Becker Stevens, who does The Radical Poly Agenda, has started a Q&A section and has just asked more people to send their Qs.

● At the women's magazine xoJane, columnist Cathy Reisenwitz writes, From Shared GCals to GPS Tracking, I'm Answering All Your Polyamory Questions! (July 9, 2013). xoJane claims to be "The fastest growing women's lifestyle brand on the Web," with 2 million monthly readers.

Update December 2013: Here's a new one that just sprang up: Dear Viny: Actual Advice for Alternative Relationships.


While we're at it: Many discussion sites welcome newcomers sharing their situations and asking for help. Some of my favorites are Expansive Loving, particularly for those with a spiritual bent; Polyamorous Percolations, a friendly, supportive site where Polyamory in the News got started (hence my holdover coffee-theme logo); and Loving More's LoveList, with lots of longtime good people.

An up-and-coming site for advice is, believe it or not, the Reddit Polyamory subreddit, which at 14,000 members has become (I think) the largest poly discussion site on the internet outside Fetlife. Reddit has a reputation for harboring more than its share of internet ugliness, but this subreddit is an oasis of goodness by and large. The demographic is young.


Also, many static sites offer excellent advice for anyone in the poly world. Some high points:

● I always direct people to Franklin Veaux's More Than Two. For couples thinking of opening their relationship, I often suggest they go there, read the essays in the right-hand sidebar together, maybe aloud, and discuss them with each other as they go along.

● Anita Wagner Illig's widely used jealousy resources belong in this list, in particular her Making Peace with Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships workshop handout. Anita has long run the Practical Polyamory site.

● Jessica Burde runs Polyamory on Purpose, "the practical side... to deal with all the fun, insane, wonderful hassles of day-to-day in a polyamorous relationship." Scroll down to the Categories in the left-hand sidebar. She recently published a book, Polyamory and Pregnancy, and is now working on the next in her Polyamory on Purpose guidebook series: The Poly Home. For this she's currently asking for stories and input.

● Who'd I miss?


P.S.: Of course there's nothing like a supportive community of real-life people. Find your local poly discussion/ support/ social group starting here.

For a schedule of bigger conferences, gatherings, and campouts, see Alan's List of Polyamory Events.


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July 11, 2013

Public outpouring after triad's 6-year-old daughter is murdered in Texas

A terrible, tragic case of polyamory in the news has gripped the attention of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

On July 1st a 6-year-old girl was killed in the Fort Worth suburb of Saginaw. Alanna Gallagher's body, tied up in a plastic tarp, was found at the side of a street a mile from her home. Her parents are a poly triad: her biological father Miles McDaniel, her mother Laura Gallagher, and Laura's husband Karl Gallagher.

The three parents are not considered suspects, police say, but the police have no suspects and say they cannot rule anything out.

Flowers, ribbons and teddy bears decorate streetside memorials. The family's poly aspect only made it into the media a week after the murder although the family was, McDaniel says, out to the school and their church:

Here's the TV station's article that went with that report (a partial transcript):

Father of Slain Saginaw Girl Talks...

The father of the Saginaw, Texas, child who was found dead last week said his polyamorous household is doing its best to hold together in wake of the girl's killing.

Miles McDaniel, the father of 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher, spoke for the first time about his daughter's death and their family.

"I want to find out who did this," he said Tuesday shortly after speaking with investigators for a few hours. "I want justice. And I hope that they can be found."

Alanna Gallagher
The family includes him; Gallagher's mother, Laura Gallagher; and her husband, Karl. McDaniel said he knows neither of his spouses committed the crime, saying theirs is a loving family.

"Anyone who knows the family knows that there are three parents in the family," he said. "If anyone is interested, Google polyamory."

Police have said that the family is not suspected in Gallagher's death.

"I know there's always that suspicion -- I know the odds are high that it's a family member in this sort of situation," McDaniel said. "I can say that anyone who knows our family knows better."

He said he doesn't have information on any progress in the case.

"I know they are processing all of the evidence that they found, and they're doing their best," he said.

Gallagher's body was found wrapped in a tarp in the middle of a street about a mile from her home on July 1.

"The last time I saw Alanna, she was wanting to go play with friends, and I let her," McDaniel said.

He said he second-guesses his decision to let her go "every minute," saying that, "if I had just said no, she'd still be here."

Here's the article page. See the Related Stories there for much more on the case earlier. Police have asked the public to help them find a red pickup truck with a green paint splash on the back passenger side. They are also asking about two dark SUVs seen in the area.

Police searched the family's home; they took computers and more than 100 other items and samples. Saginaw Police Chief Robert Macon said, "As with any criminal investigation, each of the people closest to the victim is being considered, and their actions investigated.

"It was as much the goal of the search team to retrieve items to exclude the parents as suspects as ... it was to collect items we would consider evidentiary in value. This, of course, would require taking samples from their residence."

Also, he said, "The Gallagher/McDaniel family considers Miles as a parent, and we are being considerate of their lifestyle; it's not our place to offer judgment on them."

And, "There’s nothing to indicate that there was mistreatment in the home of these children." Alanna lived with two of her siblings.

This portrait of Karl Gallagher, Laura Gallagher, and Miles McDaniel has been all over the news.

All three parents spoke at Alanna's funeral in a packed church this morning. Storystory; TV report.

Karl earlier posted to Facebook: "The State Guard, our church (Calvary Lutheran), and our neighbors are taking good care of us with food and such. The Saginaw Police, FBI, and many other investigators have been very professional and dedicated. The news media have been polite and respectful of our privacy. The sympathy and support from the community far and near has been amazing."

Here's a Google News search for the most recent coverage and developments. Here's one that includes the terms polyamory or polyamorous.

I'm slightly surprised that there has been so little sensationalism over the family's poly structure, especially since there's no suspect yet and details of the police seizure of computers and other things from the home were heavily reported. Without exception as far as I've seen, area media have explained polyamorous families factually and well. For instance. In Texas no less.

Readers, maybe we're seeing the effect of your years of efforts to explain and model poly families to the world. A decade or two ago I don't think the family would have been treated quite like this.

UPDATE July 23: The murder seems solved. Based on DNA and other evidence, police came to arrest a 17-year-old neighbor for the crime. He brought a gun to the door, shot one of the policemen in a struggle, and was shot and critically wounded. See post.


July 8, 2013

Slippery slope? The Economist says bring it on!

The news cycle has moved on from the Supreme Court's gay-marriage decisions, but debates continue about whether polygamy will come next, or should.

For instance, this surprise at The Economist:

Polygamy now!

...Same-sex-marriage activists have wisely sought to separate themselves from advocates of even more exotic marital arrangements. However, as Mr Lewis suggests, the idea that marriage is an inherently heterosexual institution is less plausible than the idea that it is inherently exclusive to couples. If a man can love a man, a woman can love a woman and a man. And if they all love each other... well, what's the problem? Refraining from criminalising families based on such unusual patterns of sentiment is less than the least we can do.

If the state lacks a legitimate rationale for imposing on Americans a heterosexual definition of marriage, it seems pretty likely that it likewise lacks a legitimate rationale for imposing on Americans a monogamous definition of marriage. Conservatives have worried that same-sex marriage would somehow entail the ruination of the family as the foundation of society, but we have seen only the flowering of family values among same-sex households, the domestication of the gays. Whatever our fears about polyamorous marriage, I suspect we'll find them similarly ill-founded. For one thing, what could be more family-friendly than four moms and six dads?

Read the whole column (June 28, 2013). The Economist is a thick, highly influential weekly newsmagazine based in the UK with a U.S. circulation of 750,000. It's pretty Tory about economics but has little use for most of the obsessions that pass for conservatism in the U.S.


Or maybe we need an even broader rethinking. Remember the Beyond Marriage statement? The Beyond Same-Sex Marriage organization is now Unmarried Equality, and KIRO Radio in its hometown of Seattle put up this on its news site:

Unmarried couples taking gay marriage rulings a step further

By KIRO Radio Staff

Cindy Butler, the executive director of Unmarried Equality, wants to end the assignment of benefits and privileges based on marital status.

"We want people to stop thinking that a legal marriage is the only legitimate outcome for a committed relationship," she said. "The ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is starting to redefine what a spouse is."

Butler's group claims that 47 percent of [adult] Americans are unmarried, as of the 2010 census.

"That's 112 million people, so we could be equal at this point. It's definitely growing as a trend and it won't stop," said Butler.

While unmarried partners don't have the same rights as married couples, Butler said the rulings move the national conversation in the right direction. She hopes employers begin granting benefits to unmarried couples....

The (short) whole article (June 26, 2013).


Among polys themselves, discussions continue about what our reactions and strategies should be. Everyone has their own ideas; agreement on a "party line" would be impossible and a lousy thing in any case. What I do seem to see emerging, though, is a tendency to distrust the privileging of marriage in general — as with Unmarried Equality above — and to argue that, for instance, instead of a small new group being ushered into the family health-insurance privilege, everyone should have access to health care. What poly families really need, many are saying, is public acceptance and understanding, and the state keeping out.

From Robyn Trask's editorial at Loving More, which she directs:

...Overturning DOMA is a step in the right direction and I am thrilled for the many same sex couples that will be positively affected by this decision.

Is it a step toward plural marriage? I am skeptical, as it is a complicated issue and begs the questions should marriage be regulated at all? I know many polyamorists would choose to marry more than one if it were legal, and that, by the laws of some states, many are violating the law since co-habitation is in some states considered common law marriage....

The right to family of choice is really what is at stake, and the same legal protections should extend to people in multi-partnered marriage. Unfortunately too many of us in the polyamory community have been afraid to even bring up the subject; we are still afraid of job discrimination and other issues like child custody. Many people are in the closet and most are not willing to support an effort to demand equality and recognition of polyamory as an orientation and a viable choice in relationships and families. We as a movement are in our infancy with nothing acting as a catalyst to bring us together in a cohesive way.

As my partner and I move forward with our own marriage next week, it is not without trepidation. We do not want to close the door to other loves or committed partners, and we know that the perception for many will be just that....

Read on.

Jessica Karels of Modern Poly put up a personal statement:

...Opponents to same-sex marriage have used a very specific image of polygamy – one that is wrought with images of cult-like mind control and abuse of women and children – in order to scare people about the consequences of what marriage equality could bring. I propose a second version of the “slippery slope” argument, one that conservatives would find equally scary.

Same-sex marriage, by its very nature, denies the traditional gender roles that are a part of the nuclear family model.... By emphasizing that families are build around love and commitment – rather than who wears the pants and who cares for the kids – we call into question public policies that enforce the status quo.

...Likewise, for same-sex partners to become parents, they need outside aid through a surrogate mother, sperm donor, or a mother giving up their child for adoption. It is not unheard of for all three adults (the couple and the one who biologically intervened… that sounds so clinical!) to co-parent the child. This means that at least one adult in the group is taking an active interest in caring for a child that is not made of their own genetic material… *gasp* What if this type of practice – multiple non-related adults co-parenting – became a cultural norm?

What if it led to social policies where communities actively pooled their resources to ensure that the next generation was fed, clothed, and schooled – instead of leaving the onus solely on the biological parents?

Her whole essay.

Wes Fenza, a lawyer and part of the Philadelphia quint that was featured on Lisa Ling's "Our America", picks up the hot potato and, at Modern Poly, argues the case for legally recognized multi-marriage:

The Need for Poly Marriage

...A common sentiment in poly communities [is] that poly marriage isn't something to worry about. In fact, even Mistress Matisse, a high-profile polyamory activist, published an article several months ago stating that “poly marriage is never going to happen,” arguing that working out the details would be too complicated and that most poly people don’t even want marriage anyway.

I’ve often run into the argument that poly marriage would be "too complicated" from a legal standpoint. While gay marriage easily fits into the existing marriage framework, marriage among multiple people would require a more complicated legal framework in regard to property, insurance, inheritance, decision-making, and related areas.

However, an understanding of family law renders such arguments unconvincing. The courts routinely deal with complicated family situations. From a legal standpoint, in terms of inheritance, power of attorney, property ownership, and insurance coverage, having multiple spouses is not all that different from having multiple children. In terms of alimony, equitable apportionment, child support, and parental rights, having multiple spouses is very similar to having multiple ex-spouses. Courts are adept at apportioning rights and obligations amongst multiple people, even in the most elaborate family structures....

I'm married, and I'm engaged to a second partner. Next May, we'll be getting married, and my intention is to recreate as many of the legal aspects of marriage as possible.... Without poly marriage, my relationship with my second partner will always be treated by the legal system as less important than my relationship with my first partner.

...I agree with critics that poly marriage is a long way off, but it is a goal worth pursuing, and will eventually be a key step in recognizing the legitimacy of our relationships.

His whole article.

From Angi Becker Stevens at The Radical Poly Agenda: So, What Does This DOMA Repeal Mean for Us? and Further Thoughts on DOMA and Polyamory.

...I’ve occasionally seen responses from other poly folks that are more along the lines of “everyone should calm down, we’re not interested in marriage right now, anyway.” That might be true, but it’s not really the line I’m interested in taking when it comes to defending the idea of poly marriage....


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July 6, 2013

Should you take poly onto conservative talk radio?

After the Supreme Court's gay-marriage decisions on June 26th, poly activist Anita Wagner Illig found lots of media quoting stuff that she had recently said, and seeking her out. U.S. News & World Report had quoted her at length in an article about what a favorable court ruling might mean for people in multi-relationships. So after the decisions, other media came calling.

Conservative media in particular. She agonized over whether she could explain poly relationships as being reasonable and deserving of respect without just feeding the beast. When the Glenn Beck radio show invited her on as a guest, she asked other members of the Polyamory Leadership Network for advice.

Most of us recommended that she leave that one alone, and that's what she decided — partly because she felt that Beck (a right-winger so bizarre that he got kicked out of Fox News) might trigger her to the point of tripping up and not representing the poly world well.

A few others, however, said they thought they could handle Beck just fine. One was Michael Rios, a lifelong poly activist known for his organizing work in the Network for a New Culture. He contacted Beck's producers, but by then they were done with the topic.

Michael did, however, get himself a guest spot elsewhere on conservative talk radio: the Mike McConnell Show, based in Chicago. He handled it perfectly, with ease, for 13 minutes. Listen here. His part starts about 55% of the way through. (Aired July 2nd.)

McConnell, though, was an easy host. He did fish a bit for a statement that would prove polys want a slippery slope to group marriage. But, says Michael, "Hearing [the recording] as a listener now, I’m more convinced that McConnell had done his homework, and was at the very least neutral about polyamory. He asked good questions, and gave me time for complex answers when needed."

The skill that Michael displays in this clip is in being forthright while not being drawn into concept framings you didn't choose. To do this you need not just quick wits, but also an attitude that keeps you from being triggered: being genuinely curious and interested in your opponent's worldview. Not becoming reactive enables you to use your own framings to speak in ways that the host and his listeners will hear.

I think Michael's one of the best we've got. My opinion of the stuff he does only went up after I started going to the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East, which he, Sarah Taub, and others put on in the West Virginia mountains every July. I'm heading off there in a week. The location has very little internet, so if I don't post much then, that's why.


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July 4, 2013

Poly playwriting competition —
$1,000 in prizes!

Don't like the way multi-loves are usually treated in song and story?

Get serious and make your own.

Open Love NY is running a competition for new plays or musicals treating polyamory. From their press release:

Calling all playwrights! Open Love NY is sponsoring the Unchained Love Playwright Competition, seeking the best one-act and full-length plays about modern relationships. Total prizes: $1,000. Deadline to enter: December 15, 2013.

“The lives and loves of people who are polyamorous, genderqueer, kinky or other marginalized groups are often defined by an intentional journey of self-discovery between consenting adults, where honesty and open communication are the main currency in committed, loving relationships, not sexual or emotional exclusivity,” said Mischa Lin, who is producing the competition on behalf of Open Love NY. “For people who are constantly told that love only exists between two specific individuals, we want to create works that show a world of possibilities where lasting, sustainable love can include more than just traditional monogamy.”

A $750 cash prize will be awarded for the best full-length play, and $250 for the best one-act play.

For complete rules, visit openloveny.com/playwrights.html. Updates will be posted at olnyplay.blogspot.com.

Founded in 2009, Open Love NY supports a thriving community of more than 1,000 members with regular social and educational events, including Poly Cocktails and a discussion group featuring prominent guest speakers, both held monthly.

And there's more to entice any playwright! "Winning plays will be shopped to various theater companies to secure a staged reading/workshop and eventual full production, although production is not guaranteed." And, the winners and honorable-mentions will be scheduled for public readings.

Mischa writes,

Hi Alan,

So the background is, when we first formed Open Love NY back in 2009, one of the goals of the original leadership team was to promote the acceptance of polyamory through scholarly and artistic works. Since starting our monthly meetings in March 2010, we've grown from the original group of eight leaders to a membership of well over 1,000 people, and the time is ripe to put that scale to work.

For the past three years, I've been living in the heart of the Theater District in New York City, which has afforded me many opportunities to see plays and get involved with theater people. I've percolated the idea of working with my theater friends on a project for some time. When I stepped down as OLNY president last fall, I finally freed up some spare time to pursue this long-simmering interest. I'm very happy to say that we've already received almost 10 entries in less than a week since the contest was announced.

Noel Coward — how would you write Design for Living if you were doing it today? Jean-Peal Sartre — how would you do No Exit?


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