"Polyamorous in Portland: the city making open relationships easy"
I've been away at New Culture Summer Camp East in the woods of West Virginia, blessed and bedazzled by beloved community yet again, which is why I haven't put anything up here in the last two weeks. Heaps of material have piled up! Let's start with this.
The Guardian, one of the world's great progressive newspapers — based in the UK but pushing aggressively into the US — clearly has its eye on polyamory as An Important Development. It has reported on poly repeatedly and sympathetically over the years. Yesterday (July 19, 2016) it published this:
Polyamorous in Portland: the city making open relationships easy
In Portland, Oregon – one of America’s most sexually tolerant cities – it seems you can’t throw a stone without finding a consensual non-monogamous relationship
Tamela Clover, Jeff Lords and Gaile Parker are a polyamorous threesome living in Portland. They are in a ‘V’ dynamic, with Jeffry as the pivot person. Photo: Natalie Behring for the Guardian.
By Melanie Sevcenko
When Franklin Veaux was 10 years old, his elementary school English teacher read his class a story about a princess being wooed by two princes. “I thought, princesses live in castles, and castles are big enough for all three of them, so why does she have to choose one?” he said.
Throughout his life, Franklin – now 50 and living in Portland, Oregon – has never chosen one. In fact, he’s never had a monogamous relationship in his life, even while he was married for 18 years. “Monogamy has never connected with me, it’s never made sense to me,” said Franklin, who took two dates to his high school prom and lost his virginity in a threesome.
...Polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships involving more than two people with the consent of everyone involved. In recent years, polyamory is working its way to becoming a household term. Researchers have estimated that 4 to 5% of Americans practice some form of consensual non-monogamy....
And in Portland – home to swingers’ clubs, the most strip bars per capita, and annual porn festivals – it seems you can’t throw a stone without finding a poly relationship. Although there’s no official data supporting an exact number, various Meetup groups boast a few thousand members each, while other Facebook groups have hundreds.
“Portland is an amazing place if you’re poly, oh my god,” laughed Franklin....
Polyamory in the public eye
...This spring another show, hailed as television’s first polyromantic comedy, also launched. You Me Her follows married couple Jack and Emma – attractive, suburban and professional – as they enter into a polyamorous relationship with grad student Izzy. Unsurprisingly, the show is set in Portland.
...Since airing You Me Her, [its writer-creator John Scott] Shepherd has been contacted by a number of members of the poly community. “They appreciated the creative decision to go with so-called ‘normal’ people who never thought they’d do something like this,” said Shepherd, whose show has been renewed for a second and third season. “That creative conceit seemed to reflect their experience: they don’t see themselves as ‘sex people’.”
Julie Jeske is a Portland-based counselor who works with couples identifying as poly. “Because Portland is more progressive in general, it may be easier for someone who is exploring what others may consider an alternative lifestyle,” she said. “There is more information and more support, less stigma.”
Making it work
Portland is home to numerous groups, classes, meet-ups and mailing lists dedicated to polyamory or non-monogamy, including Franklin’s Portland Polyamory Outreach Group and a student group founded by Tamela Clover, 30, a psychology and mathematics major.
“I realized pretty early on that I wanted freedom and I also wanted to be an ethical person, so I didn’t want to make commitments that I couldn’t keep … But I didn’t have a word for what I wanted,” said Tamela, who lives with her partner of seven years, Jeffry Lords, 39.
Jeffry has another partner – Gaile Parker, 31, also a psychology major – who he met on OkCupid 14 months ago. All three are in a “V” dynamic, with Jeffry as the pivot person. Gaile and Tamela are not romantically or sexually involved; they refer to each other as a metamour – the partner of one’s partner – which is similar to a family bond.
...“If you want someone to be an equal partner, I at least want them to be compatible with what I consider to be my tribe,” said Tamela. “I don’t want someone who’s going to cause a lot of discord in my other relationships.”
And then there’s the issue of jealousy....
Read on. The story is getting a lot of attention on Portland-area sites and blogs. It's also going around the religious right, as another sign that the whole world is going to hell (as it always is).
● Also recently appearing on the Guardian's website, in its "A Letter To" section ("the letter you always wanted to write"): A letter to my family – I wish I could tell you I’m in a ménage à trois (July 9).
...So we set out on a “sparkle sustaining” exploration.
...Emma and I spend time together as a couple; Emma and my husband spend time together as friends; and we all hang out as a family with our son and dogs. And yes, Emma and I have sex. My husband often joins us. My husband and I have the best sex we’ve ever had. The sparkle has turned into a raging fire.
I feel surrounded and blessed by love – not only do I bask in my husband’s but in Emma’s too. Our baby son and dog also adore her.
The sad fact is, however, that I feel I can never tell you – my family and friends – about her. About how happy she makes me and the rest of my family, how she’s strengthened the bond between my husband and me and given me a new zest for life and love.
...Would there be fewer affairs, divorce and broken families if it were deemed acceptable to live in happy tribes of multiple partners?...