The "Looks Like Love To Me" triad suddenly become global stars
Late last summer, an enthusiastic delta triad put up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,000 for a web video series about themselves and their two babies about to be born. The series was to be called Looks Like Love to Me. Their description:
Dani and Melinda have been a boundary-pushing, adventurous couple since 2008
and domestically partnered since 2010.
In 2012 they decided to find the "perfect" man to continue life and build a family with.
After 2.5 years of being a "Polyamorous Triad", they now have two babies on the way…and only two weeks apart!
This web series is dedicated to exploring our story. We aim to expose ourselves in an effort to educate, inspire, and pioneer Love in all its various forms. The web series will include issues such as:
Our double pregnancies and parenting journey
Our triple wedding that occurred on July 18th, 2014 (check out our Wedding Teaser Mini-sode here)
Sex, Jealousy, Money, Communication, and beyond...
The support and judgments of friends, family, and society
Our daily life as a loving and healthy triad family
Interviews with other polyamorous and alternative love seekers
We already have a ton of footage and a dedicated team, so we're well on our way to making this project a reality.
They raised the $5,000 but didn't make their goal of having the first "season" of videos done by January; instead they decided to make a single long documentary rather than a series of shorts. They've got a lot of footage on their website LooksLikeLoveToMe.com, and more in the can. The producer is longtime polyactivist Stefunny Pettee, also of the Bay Area. Their site now says,
Our goal is to create a documentary of the story from the meeting of Dani and Melinda, through their marriage, finding Jon, their pregnancies and birth, and on until the babies Oliver and Ella Lynn become one year old.
Which will be in October.
This week they suddenly got a huge burst of publicity. It happened after they were featured on the website of the UK's Daily Mail ("that dreadful rag" to many Brits), which is aggressively expanding its online presence in the US. The story is happy as happy can be, quite unlike how the Daily Mail once treated polyamory. Excerpts:
'We breastfeed each other's babies!' Polyamorous man's two wives give birth within 30 days of one another — and all three insist they couldn't be happier
By Georgina Bisval
On September 6, 2014 Melinda Phoenix was overjoyed to welcome her first son Oliver into the world.
But it wasn't just her husband Jonathan Stein, 32, from Oakland, California, who shared her joy in the delivery room. Incredibly his second wife Dani, who was also pregnant, was beside them to witness it too.
And just 35 days later on October 11, it was Melinda's turn to offer her support to 30-year-old Dani in the delivery room, when she gave birth to Jonathan's second baby, a beautiful baby girl named Ella Lynn.
Jonathan, Dani, and Melinda are a polyamorous family, which means that they all believe in having more than one partner.
The trio and their two children all live under the same roof, with all three parents sharing every aspect of parenthood, from nighttime feeds to diaper changes.
'It might seem strange to a lot of people, but to us it makes perfect sense,' Melinda, 28, who runs her own healing company, East-West Collaborative Health, told Daily Mail Online. 'We all love each other and it was our dream to fall pregnant at the same time.
'Unlike conventional couples who are sleep deprived when a newborn comes along, there are three of us to take it in turns on the night shift. We breastfeed each others babies, split the finances three ways and the housework too.
'Even sex is great, as if one person is not feeling up for it, then there are two other people to choose from.'
Dani added: 'We compliment each other perfectly as our parenting styles are so different.'...
Until Dani met Melinda in 2008, Melinda had only been in monogamous relationships with men, while Dani had enjoyed relationships with both men and women. But after meeting at a music festival, the pair knew they were destined to spend the rest of their lives together....
'My mom thought it was a joke when Dani and I got married, so when we told her about Jonathan she just thought we were crazy,' Melinda explained. 'Some of Jonathan's friends just thought it was all about kinky sex and thought it was just plain weird. So much so he doesn't talk to some of them anymore.
'Dani's family had a hard time accepting it too.
'But luckily there were others, like Jonathan's mom Sandy, who thought what we had was amazing and gave us their full blessing.'
The threesome also had to learn to overcome their own feelings of jealousy too.
'At times it has been hard to adapt to, as for me just being with Melinda was enough,' Dani explained. 'So to see her fall in love with Jonathan was at times tough.
'But I began to realize that I could love him too, in my own way. And the more we talked to each other, the easier over time it has got. There are moments when I just want Melinda to myself, but now there are also moments when I feel just as strongly about Jonathan too. We have just learnt to cope better as time goes on.
'Now we all make sure we give each of us time together and separately. If Melinda wants a night out just with Jonathan, I am fine with that and likewise with her.
'Sexually it works perfectly as while we do make love together and me just with Melinda or Jonathan, I don't have as high a sex drive as Melinda, so she gets to satisfy that part of her personality with Jonathan too.'
By the end of 2013 Melinda, Dani and Jonathan were living together and began making plans to start a family....
'We all have a fabulous sex life, share the same bed, so we just made sure we timed things correctly and prayed our wishes would come true,' Melinda said. 'I found out I was pregnant on January 14th this year and two weeks later we all let out a scream of pure delight when we found out Dani was expecting too.'...
'People sometimes ask us: "Are you not worried about the kids getting bullied at school?"' Melinda admitted. 'But in all honesty it is not something that concerns us.
'We had agreed that when they become old enough we will explain our situation and are committed to instill them with tools to face any hurdle they may encounter.
'Thankfully we live in community that is pretty liberal and over time we hope families like ours will not be in a minority. Because in all honesty we think having two moms and one dad is the perfect way to raise a child, in a home full of love.
'We are even open to taking in even more lovers if it feels right in the future, as more hands make for an easier life.'
The paper defined polyamory well in a sidebar:
WHAT IS POLYAMORY?
Polyamory is the philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously.
Those who believe in polyamory often involve themselves with more than one partner, and in many cases, will marry more than one person [sic].
The belief is focused around each person being able to consciously decide how many partners he or she wishes to be involved with, rather than accepting society's more traditional views on relationships and marriage, which dictate that people should only love and commit to one person at a time.
Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations; polyamorous relationships can involve as many people as each person wishes, and can involved people of all sexes.
See the whole article, with lots of lovely pix (March 9, 2015).
The story wasn't new; the same author published a very similar piece about them in the UK's equally downmarket Reveal magazine last November: One husband, two wives: one family's polyamorous relationship! (Nov. 21, 2014).
The Daily Mail article was syndicated into US newspapers and also resulted in fresh stories being written here. The one that's probably been going around most is a long, more straightforward piece at SFGate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle in the family's own backyard:
An Oakland family has found what they think is the key to a happy household: three parents.
By Amy Graff
Two women named Melinda and Dani Phoenix and the man they both consider their husband, Jonathan Stein, are in a polyamorous relationship and parenting two babies together under the same roof.
Melinda and Dani began their relationship as a lesbian couple and became domestic partners in 2010. A year later, Jonathan joined them as the third partner and the three married last summer in a ceremony that is not legally recognized.
Now they’re sharing their story to raise awareness about polyamorous families and hope that some day these arrangements can be widely accepted and legally recognized. With children entering their picture, they feel gaining support from the community is more important than ever.
...While many new parents are sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, this trio are gliding through parenthood as they take turns with childcare, diaper changes and nighttime feedings.
“We split things up,” Dani says. “We’re all working hard and well as a team.”
“Melinda and I both breastfeed. He’s my son and she’s my daughter and vice versa. We share that responsibility and that love with them.”
In addition to nurturing two new babies, the three parents are working various degrees of part-time hours outside the home. Dani has a low-key dog-walking service, Melinda runs her own healing studio in Oakland called East-West Collaborative Health, and Jonathan keeps busy as a self-employed carpenter. Together, they earn enough money to cover household expenses.
With three parents rotating kid duty, it’s also possible for the two moms to advance their careers by going to school. Melinda is earning a degree in Chinese medicine and after a semester break, she’s now loading up on extra units while Dani stays home to watch the babies.
“I’m the primary boob for the babies,” Dani says, jokingly.
Dani plans to return to school in the fall to finish her degree to become a sign language interpreter, and Jonathan will support her by accepting fewer carpentry jobs and spending more time with the babies.
Polyamory is a term used to define people who love multiple partners at the same time. A polyamorous relationship can range from a married person with multiple love interests to an informal group marriage. Some engage in group sex while others have one-on-one sexual relationships with multiple partners.
Polygamy falls under the polyamory umbrella and refers to a structure with one man who dominates over two or more wives. In a polygamous relationship the wives don’t have an intimate relationship. The Stein-Phoenix clan is different because Melinda and Dani are romantically involved and all three partners are viewed as equals.
“If one was to put a fancy label on our relationship one would say we are a poly fidelitous triad, meaning we are focused on just the three of us (for now at least) and not open to other partners,” Dani says.
Jonathan, Dani and Melinda are sharing their version of polyamory in video clips and blogs on their website LooksLikeLovetoMe.com. Dani has chronicled the story ever since she and Melinda first met at a music festival in 2008 and is now collaborating with local videographer Stephanie Pettee to produce a documentary that reveals the mystery behind a polyamorous family.
“We get so many questions about our relationship,” Dani told SFGate. “Our mission is to share our story and answer some of those questions...."
With the UK press recently covering the family’s story, the trio are hearing from people all over the world who have been touched by their philosophy.
“We’ve received great responses from individuals who feel inspired by the story,” Dani says. “People who aren’t happy in their relationships are writing in. We’re hearing from people who are polyamorous but can’t be open about it.”
Extended family have been supportive with Jonathan’s mom attending their three-way wedding and Dani’s mom flying out from the East Coast to meet the new babies.
But the harshest critics have been a few family members from conservative backgrounds. Melinda’s mom was slow to warm up to their situation.
“She didn’t come to the wedding and didn’t even want to see us,” Jonathan said in an interview. “But now she’s inviting us to bring the grandchildren to the house.”
Jonathan says the biggest misconception people have about their relationship is that he rules the roost, but he’s quick to point out that this is an equal partnership.
“People think that because I have two wives that I’ve succeeded in life as a man,” Jonathan says. “But really it’s more like a bisexual women couple and their husband. It’s not a masculine-run household.”
“There’s a huge polyamorous community that people don’t even know about,” Dani says. “Society really looks down on it, so we understand why poly people don’t ‘come out.’
“We want to show that love is beautiful and it’s OK to talk about it, regardless of what it ‘looks like.’ It’s really like any of the civil rights movements of the past, the more people are respectfully exposed to it the more people will accept it. We’re proud to get the conversations started.”
The whole article, again with lots of pix (March 11, 2015).
Following the Daily Mail story, Dani (now with a buzzcut) posted a self-described "rant" about how its original title assumed that the man took two wives, polygamy-style, when in fact it was two long-partnered bisexual women who went looking for a guy:
They've started keeping a media page of their coverage, so I'll refer you there for the rest. It includes pieces in Belgium, Germany, and Bosnia, though I see they missed the one in a moms' magazine in Nigeria: "Heard of Polyamory?" (March 10, 2015).
And they've been on three radio shows, with at least one more apparently lined up.
They're overwhelmed. Dani posted to their Facebook page on Tuesday,
Since I woke this morning we have been contacted by a dozen news reporters, film producers, new supporters and even a doctor!
Our story was published in the UK recently and has 2.2 THOUSAND shares! And friends in other countries are linking us to our story--one found today in the Belgium news.
It's a super strange feeling, equal parts of exciting and scary. Which one would you feel?
Once again, we're so lucky that such fine people are willing to drop their privacy and serve as poly faces to the world.
Would like to try? The media demand for out polyfolks exceeds the supply. There's a particular need for greater diversity. Your entree to poly-in-the-media stardom, with lots of media-savvy advice and inside knowledge from experience, is to contact the ever-helpful Robyn Trask, director of the Loving More poly-educational nonprofit. Reach her through the contact link on the Loving More homepage. Say I sent you. Robyn maintains a list, still too short, of people she can refer writers and reporters to when they call Loving More.