Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

December 25, 2016

Why poly is so feminist: The version to give the clueless

Wonder why modern poly is so feminist? Why most of its leaders, organizers, book authors, bloggers, public spokespeople, and other movers-and-shakers are women? And have been ever since Deborah Anapol and Ryam Nearing got the movement rolling 30 years ago? And since Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart coined, and Jennifer Wesp popularized, the word polyamory?

Lotsa reasons. But for the clueless males that you encounter (including perhaps your cousin visiting for Christmas), save this little gem of a clue-by-four that even they will get.

It's from Poly.land, "your daily polyamory blog for navigating life, relationships, and more," by the prolific Page Turner of the Cleveland poly and kink communities. She also defines for newbies a lot of our in-group terminology. From the start:

The Switcheroo: When Openers Become Benchwarmers

A switcheroo. Who would fall for it?
“You’re poly?” he says. “I feel kind of bad for you.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Everyone knows that polyamory is just a thing that straight dudes made up so their girlfriends will let them have some extra sex without looking like a creep.”

I laugh.

“What?” he asks. “You’re not gonna argue?”

“Well,” I say. “Even if that’s the case, that’s not really the way it plays out. Joke’s on any guy who thinks otherwise. He’s in for a switcheroo.”

“What do you mean?”

“In the game of poly, straight male is basically the hardest setting you can play on. It’s kind of the opposite of normal privilege patterns,” I say.

“So the extra sex?”

“It takes some doing,” I say. “And meanwhile, they’re likely gonna see their female partner overwhelmed with takers and rejecting offers.”

“Oh shit,” he says. “Just like monogamous online dating.”

“Exactly. Except he’s going to be sitting alone while she’s out on the town.”

“Huh,” he says. “Never thought about that. What about evening the odds?”

“How?” I ask.

“Well, what if you can only date people together, as a couple? A package deal.”

“Ah yes,” I say. “Unicorn hunters. That’s even harder in some ways.”

“Unicorn what?”

“A unicorn is a bi woman who will date both of halves of a couple,” I explain.

“Awww yeah,” he says. “That’s what I’m talking about! Living the dream. That sounds perfect. What’s so hard about that?”...


...“Wow,” he says. “So poly women really do have a lot of power.”

I nod. “Polyamory is a matriarchy.”

The whole article, to bookmark (December 20, 2016).

She didn't get around to one of the movement's in-group tropes: It's the men who first drag their reluctant women into this poly idea, then when their fantasy turns real they freak and can't handle it, and the women take over and make it work.



December 21, 2016

Jolly Poly Holidays. . . or not

Non-traditional people often face challenges around traditional family stuff, no more so than in the holiday season.

A classic blunder: using the big turkey-carve as the moment to come out to your whole birth family including Nervous Hilda and Problem Uncle Fred.

Then there's the classic polyfamily crisis: a couple leaves a secondary partner behind to finally grasp, all alone in a cold apartment on Christmas Day, that he or she really is secondary. Although for that, Kimchi Cuddles has a solution. I'm not sure whether she's snarking here:

● As is often the case, MoreThanTwo.com is a go-to place for clarity. Eve Rickert put up a guest post from Noël Figart, the Polyamorous Misanthrope: Polyamorous holidays: When you’re the secondary.

A friend of mine sent me a question last week about surviving the holidays as a polyamorous secondary partner, and Franklin and I chewed on it for awhile before finally throwing in the towel. ... So we turned to someone else we trusted. I’ve followed Noël’s blog almost since the inception of my own non-monogamy journey, and she gives great poly advice that is grounded in respect, love and being a grown-up.

I’m looking for advice on surviving the holidays as a Secondary. My only current partner is married, and also lives very close to his biological family, whom he is also very close to emotionally. He’s told at least his mother... but she has essentially bent over backwards to ignore our relationship... and holidays really seem to heighten that glitch in the matrix.

...We’re doing some personal celebration things on days around the holidays, but they’re very solitary activities. It’s very much getting to me.... I’d like to know how other people have dealt with similar feelings of being the Invisible Partner during a very rough part of the year to be alone.


That hurts and it’s tough. And guess what? There is some social erasure going on in this.

Is it avoidable?

"To not be publicly acknowledged as a partner or to
be erased from public celebrations can be painful."

Photo © Michal Moravcik/Depositphotos.com
...Let’s break this down in terms of relationship skill sets. I’m sure you’ve run across the idea before that it’s important to ask for what you want. It is crucial, so get it out there. Don’t worry about whether what you want is too much to ask: once you know what you want, ask for it. This can be scary, but I think all good relationships require a bit of courage....

So try it out. “Honey, I feel really alone during the holidays. Since we are partners, I feel like we’re family, too, and I want to be able to be included in some big holiday gatherings. Is there any way this can happen at all?”

Notice that this is open-ended. You’re asking for what you want, but you’re not telling anyone how to give it to you. That’s good, because chances are better that you’ll get some suggested solutions that you might not even have thought of.

Yes, I’m presuming good will here. After all, you’re partners and you love each other, right?

You mentioned that you’re doing a small, private celebration with your partner. Maybe it shouldn’t be (just) a small, private celebration. Maybe at some point a big holiday party that you and your partner and metamour host might be a good idea.... I used to throw a big tree decorating party the first of December ever year.

...I used to be a member of a group marriage. While we got enough wrong that it did eventually dissolve, one of the things we got right was that we hosted holidays at our house. That kept us from having to choose among families of origin. People who wanted to visit on a holiday were welcomed.... It was a good solution for us, as it did keep us on more equal ground with each other....

● From Dedeker Winston of the Multiamory Podcast, writing on Bustle a few days ago: Common Judgments Non-Monogamous People Hear — And How To Respond (Dec. 12, 2016):

...As the holidays are fast approaching, you may be gearing up to come out to your family about your non-monogamy. Or, the word may have already gotten out, and now you’re bracing yourself for the inevitable questions and un-asked-for opinions....

Here’s a play-by-play to handling the most common questions and criticisms of ethical non-monogamy with smarts and grace.

“Is this a sex thing?”

Variations include: “I don’t want to know about what goes on in your bedroom.” “Aren’t you scared of STDs?”...

...How to respond: “My relationships are based on intimacy and emotional connection, not just hooking up. I am aware that all forms of sex are risky, but I am taking precautions to make sure that both my partners and myself stay safe and healthy.”

“So ... you’re single.”

Variations include: “Are you playing the field for now?” “Good for you for not letting yourself get tied down.” “When you find the right person, you’ll be ready to commit.”

...The best method is time. ... However, when the people asking are sitting looking at you expectantly, it may not be feasible to ask them to get back to you in a year or so.

How to respond: “I’m actually quite committed to my relationships, but my definition of ‘commitment’ may be a little different from yours. I am seriously committed to being the best partner I can be, and I’m committed to making sure that my partners and myself are happy, regardless of whether or not there is sexual exclusivity.”

“Like what Mormons do?”

Variations include: “Do you have sister-wives?” “Did you join a cult?” “Is this like Big Love?”

...How to respond: “Unlike the historical instances of Mormon polygamy, my relationships are equal opportunity — everyone involved is free to have multiple partners, regardless of their gender. My choice of relationship isn’t related to any spiritual or religious practice.”

“Isn't that cheating?”

Variations include: “Does your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband know?” “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

...If it’s appropriate, it helps to have one of your partners there with you. Your partner can help answer questions, provide a slightly different perspective, and demonstrate without a doubt that you aren’t doing this behind their back.

How to respond: “Cheating usually involves doing something behind your partner’s back and then lying about it to cover it up. Every person involved with me has full knowledge and has given their full consent. I build my relationships on a foundation of open, honest communication and trust.”

“That isn’t real love.”

Variations include: “I’m sad that your relationship is falling apart." “Your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband must not really love you.” “You can’t be happy this way.”

This one is the heavy hitter. Does anyone know what “real” love is?...

How to respond: “My relationships may seem strange, but they are just one example of hundreds of different valid ways to create relationships. I chose this because it brings me happiness, love, and allows me to share that with others in my life.”

“You’re being taken advantage of.”

Variations include: “I just don’t want you getting hurt.” “This was your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s/wife’s/husband’s idea, wasn’t it?” “You should break up with him/her.”

...How to respond: “I appreciate your concerns for me. This is a decision that I made for myself, after a lot of research, soul-searching, and discussion with my partner. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have chosen to do this if I didn’t think it would make me happy.”

...Your family may still think of your partners as shady characters. However, I’ve seen this attitude go full 180 after family members meet one or more of your partners....

● And now you've got a good booklet to hand them to back up your words: When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous: Understanding Poly People and Relationships. Even if they don't dare open it, you've established that at least you're not a lone nut. It's also available as an ebook.

● On the Multiamory podcast itself, which Dedeker runs with Jase and Emily, they put this up just yesterday: Happy Polydays 2 (Dec. 20, 2016). It follows last year's Happy Polydays (Dec. 9, 2015).

● A wrapup from Eli Sheff (author of The Polyamorists Next Door, Stories from the Polycule, and that little When Someone You Love is Polyamorous): Poly for the Holidays: Tips on managing the holidays for poly folks and their non-poly families (Dec. 15, 2016).

...Keeping the ideas below in mind can help to make holidays more comfortable for everyone.

For Poly Folks

Save Coming Out for Some Other Time

If you are not yet out to your family about being in a poly relationship, it can most likely wait for a few more weeks or months. Earlier in this blog I wrote a series on coming out polyamorous and advised readers to avoid overloading what can be an already stressful season with potentially distracting or inflammatory announcements about sexuality. That is not an absolute rule – if you end up on an after dinner walk with your favorite cousin in can be a great time to have a private chat about the loves in your life. In general, however, avoid dropping relationship bombshells at the holiday family feast.

Give your Relatives the Benefit of the Doubt

If your dad has to ask you yet again who this new person is – even though you have been dating them for the past three years and your dad just met for the fourth time at your birthday party a couple of months ago -- try to stifle the dramatic sigh and muster up your patience to explain kindly that you are dating this person, and yes, your/their spouse knows about it. Polyamory can be a foreign and confusing concept for many people....

Have an Escape Plan

[If] relatives’ thoughtlessness or blatant malice becomes too much, be sure you can get away. Weather it is taking a walk, making a grocery run for those last few items, or returning to the sanctuary of a hotel room, be sure that you have some way to take a break from the festivities before things go badly wrong. Leaving a little too early is preferable to staying until alcohol-fueled tempers flare and people say things they will regret.

Moderate Mood Alteration

...Not only does alcohol fog your mind so that you might not notice your partner’s desperate look of a silent plea for help when Uncle Tony comes around again, it loosens your tongue....

For Families with Poly Loved Ones

Invite the People Important to Them

Even if you do not understand why your loved one is in a polyamorous relationship, please consider inviting the people they see as family members to the family event. It can be tremendously painful and difficult for poly family members to be forced to choose between spending the holidays with their chosen family members and their families of origin. Inviting everyone who is family – legal, biological, or chosen – to the party can mean more love for the whole clan.

Include all Partners in the Gift Exchange

Respect Loved Ones’ Choices, even when they Differ from Yours

Polyamory and other forms of consensual non-monogamy are not for everyone. ...You can decide to accept the fact that your loved one(s) have different relationship styles and needs from you and allow them their differences....

Have Fun

Find something to do that everyone can enjoy....

● In past years I've collected heaps more poly holidays stuff. Start here.

● On her Polyamory Weekly podcast, Cunning Minx has done many episodes on this perennial topic. For her choice of the five best she provides a handy one-page link: Poly for the holidays primer, with brief summaries for each. The most recent "includes advice learned from FBI hostage negotiators."



December 17, 2016

From Future Sex: "Are millennials better at free love?"

Emily Witt  (Michael Danner / The Guardian)
Emily Witt's book Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love has been out for a couple months and has had a lot of buzz. You may remember the October New York Times review I quoted, with this paragraph:

There is very little darkness in what is probably Witt’s best chapter, a deep dive into polyamory in San Francisco. By the time she arrives in the city... it’s a playground for successful, bright-eyed young adults [with an ethic of frank openness.] At first, Witt isn’t sure what to make of their sexual appetites. “Their sex lives were impossible to fathom,” she observes, “because they seemed never to have lived in darkness.

This morning's Guardian reprints much of that chapter. A precis:

Sex in Silicon Valley: Are millennials better at free love?

‘Despite making rules, they would aim to fail: a concept they borrowed from computer security.’

By Emily Witt

...By 2012, the young people who came to San Francisco were neither dropouts nor misfits. They were children who had grown up eating sugar-free cereal, swaddled in polar fleece jackets made from recycled plastic bottles. They had studied abroad, knew their favourite kinds of sashimi and were friends with their parents. ... Nobody smoked cigarettes. They honed their bodies with the aim of either perfect homeostasis or eternal life. They ate red meat only once a month, to time their consumption of iron with the end of their menstrual cycles. They started companies whose names referenced fantasy fiction. They were adults, but they could seem like children. Their sex lives were impossible to fathom, because they seemed never to have lived in darkness.

...Elizabeth had moved to San Francisco after college. ... Elizabeth had never before lived in a city. ... She met Wes one night in late 2010, when he accompanied one of her co-workers to a boardgame party at her house. For their first date, they attended Nerd Night at a local bar. They watched a lecture about the future of teledildonics. On the walk home, they kissed. Then Wes, with the transparency he thought of as mature and fair, gave a speech of pre-emptive relationship indemnity. He was still getting over his last girlfriend, he said. He did not want to be in a relationship. Elizabeth tried not to roll her eyes – it was the first date! They said goodnight and parted ways.

...They began meeting once a week for drinks, dates and sleeping over, always with a show of nonchalance. Given the choice, Elizabeth would have wanted a more serious commitment. She was only 23, but she had one reaction to Wes’s lack of interest in their relationship: he was acting like a baby. Fine, she decided. She would also see other people.

...One day in May 2011, six months after they met, Elizabeth introduced Wes to psilocybin mushrooms. The trip shifted their relationship. They still did not use the word “love”, but they now acknowledged what they referred to as “emotional involvement”.

Elizabeth did not describe what she was doing – having sex with two men on a regular basis over an extended period of time, with the occasional extra-relationship dalliance besides – as polyamory. The word had cultural connotations for her, of swinging married people or creepy old men.

Although, like most people her age, she had friends whose partnerships allowed for sex with others, those friends tended to use the term “open relationship”, which was somehow less infused with the stigma of intentional weirdness, and did not amount to a proclamation of sexual identity.

Still, whatever accidental arrangement she had created, by the end of that year the lack of sexual boundaries was causing Elizabeth no small amount of anxiety. ... To allay her growing insecurity, she turned to self-help and read The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide To Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, Sex At Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, and Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up.

These books convinced Elizabeth that monogamy was a choice, not a given. It began to take on the cast of an unreasonable expectation, best suited to people who disliked experimentation: people not like her.

...They agreed that they would think of themselves as a couple from now on, instead of two single people who slept together, but they would still not be monogamous. Now they had to figure out how to manage the logistics. Elizabeth compiled a shared Google doc that was to become the foundation of their research – a syllabus of recommended reading, places to attend discussion groups and sex parties open to the public. They went to a party at a sex club and had sex surrounded by onlookers. ... Elizabeth and Wes felt they could draw upon certain ideas of the older polyamorists, but had to do a lot of the thinking on their own. After their research, they began to draw up rules.

...Despite making rules, they would aim to fail. It was a concept they borrowed from computer security: if an unplanned event occurs, the default is to act first, then worry about formulating responses for the next time.

...Wes said he wouldn’t mind if Elizabeth and Chris started to sleep together. ... By the end of 2011, the three regularly socialised as a group outside work. Soon after, Chris and Elizabeth would also hang out by themselves. ... One night, Chris accompanied Elizabeth and Wes to a queer dance party. They all danced together, dancing that evolved seamlessly to kissing on the dance floor. Chris enjoyed it, but felt a little bit like the third wheel. His friends were on MDMA and he was not. Elizabeth and Wes had planned a foursome with another couple later that night, so Chris ended up going home alone.

It became an unspoken understanding that if the three of them went out dancing, they would probably end up kissing together. This was true for a whole group of friends who began to coalesce at this time around Wes and Elizabeth, who began to be sought after as gurus by other couples who had considered opening their relationships. The shared Google doc soon had multiple subscribers.

...The two men were affectionate with each other, even kissing hello or goodbye, but Chris was surprisingly troubled by his unreturned desire for Wes.

I first met Chris, Elizabeth, and Wes in late May 2012, when their experiment was just a few months old. I was seven years older than Elizabeth and Chris, eight older than Wes. I envied the openness with which they shared their attractions. They did not proceed recklessly. They drew up ethical codes to protect their relationships. Elizabeth and Wes seemed to plunge forward through life without fear. I saw in Chris a little more hesitation.

...Wes and Elizabeth’s relationship had acquired an acceleration, a momentum based on mutual daring. In the way that some couples might spend their energy systematically eating at new restaurants, Elizabeth and Wes went to sex parties. Elizabeth attended two porn shoots, one of them with Wes, the other with a woman who had become another long-term sexual partner. In June 2013, Wes left Google to start his own company. Between ending one job and beginning the other, he travelled around Europe. Elizabeth met him in Amsterdam, where they hired a prostitute.

...They discussed moving in together, and finally did so in late 2013. The decision carried less weight with the knowledge that, at least a few times a month, one of them would be spending the night at someone else’s place.

...In August 2014, Elizabeth and Wes got engaged at the Burning Man festival. In August 2015, I attended their wedding in Black Rock City. To the tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow played on an electric piano, Wes and Elizabeth, he in a white, button-down shirt and black trousers, she in a white dress, both with colourful face paint around their eyes, processed to an altar decorated with pink fabric flowers and tasselled fringe. Relatives delivered loving statements. Wes’s godfather recited a Druid prayer. We lit sparklers and held them skyward as the sun set, forming a ring of light. The drone of a didgeridoo obscured the couple’s quiet murmuring.

“By the power invested in me by the internet, you are now married,” said the officiant, Wes’s uncle. “You can kiss each other and other people.”

Chris and Elizabeth threw their first sex party in the fall of 2012. In early 2015, I went to the fourth iteration, Thunderwear IV, in a rented loft. A black-and-white portrait of Elizabeth lifting one of her legs up over her head in a full split and penetrating herself with a dildo hung over the room. She had installed a stripper pole. ... Elizabeth, ever organised, told me she had taken out liability insurance for the stripper pole.

The invitation had laid out the party’s rules in a charter, to which every invitee had to agree.....

...I wandered back to the loft, where couples and threesomes had begun to pair off on couches. Nearby was a wheel of fortune that could be spun for instructions. ... Then we went into the second room to do whip-its. ... Around us, groups of people lay together on beds and couches, or stood making out in corners. On a couch, a man lay across the laps of his friends, who formed a spanking train. I sat with Elizabeth and took a whip-it, after which she massaged my head while a man lightly shocked me with an electrified wand.

...My then boyfriend in New York had not wanted me to attend the party at all. I was still thinking of myself as just a visitor, or rather neither here nor there, someone undertaking an abstract inquiry, but not yet with true intention. ... Now I sat in a penthouse with a group of sleepy partygoers. We chatted and looked at the view. In the background was the sound of whip-its, of orgasms, of water falling from a shower into a porcelain tub.

Read the whole piece (Dec. 17, 2016).


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December 15, 2016

Poly community leaders on NPR talk show

Update after the show: Bob and especially Robyn did great; Karen Ruskin was a lot more subdued than in the past and wasn't on for long (and was effectively refuted by Robyn); and the last portion of the show featured a very articulate poly couple in Connecticut who are in an open quad, representing us well. Honestly, the whole thing was more on the bland side than I expected. I guess that's good. Listen to it here (41 minutes).

But they didn't take any callers!! Shucks, I was hoping for a chance. Thanks to everyone who tried to call.


(Original post:)

Heads up, listeners and callers! Robyn Trask of Loving More, and longtime poly author/counsellor/speaker Bob McGarey, will be on the Colin McEnroe Show, a big deal on a leading NPR radio station, starting at 1 p.m. Eastern time (10 a.m. Pacific) today, Thursday Dec. 15, 2016. The show will also bring on the poly-hostile TV therapist Karen Ruskin to challenge Robyn. It runs for one hour.

WNPR is the flagship National Public Radio station in Connecticut. Its programs are sometimes syndicated to other stations nationwide.

Listen live online. The call-in number is 860-275-7266. Email: colin@wnpr.org. Twitter: @wnprcolin.

Karen Ruskin makes a special point of saying poly households are always terrible for children. If you were or are being raised in a poly family, your call would be especially good. In the past Ruskin has seemed scared of being refuted on-air, and rumor has it that she would not come onto this show if Robyn's own daughter, now in her late teens, would be on.

Two reasons for other folks to call: To increase the chance of informed, sympathetic callers getting on the air, and to show the station that there's a lot of interest. When a show considers whether to revisit a topic or invite guests back, a lot depends on whether the phones lit up the first time.

Update: Ruskin bills herself as "Dr." Karen Ruskin, but is this for real? See the first comment below. Don't ask me, this professional question of "doctors" is beyond my pay grade.

Muddying the waters is the fact that there is, coincidentally, another Dr. Karen B. Ruskin from her school (Nova Southeastern University), who went on to get an actual Doctorate in Education (from Northern Illinois University). A quick search for "Dr. Karen B. Ruskin" is likely to land on the wrong one. (Our Ruskin is "Karen S. Ruskin" on her Massachusetts license to practice marriage and family therapy, but she later changed the middle name that she uses to Bailes, her maiden name, initial B.) Can someone who knows more than I do about the use of "doctor" sort this out?



December 3, 2016

"Compersion" webseries fundraises for a second season

Jackie Stone
If you haven't seen the webseries Compersion, produced by director Jackie Stone and her outfit Enchant TV, you've been missing something. It's a family drama about a couple exploring polyamory. Season 1 has finished successfully, with 13 episodes of about 10 minutes each, and they're fundraising for a Season 2.

Longtime California polyactivist Pepper Mint posts this on the Polyamory Leadership Network:

Compersion is a black-and-poly webseries that recently finished up its first season. You can watch it here.

It's actually my favorite poly web series so far. There are certainly painful moments in it, but they are painful to me specifically because they so accurately reflect the transition into polyamory. And the acting is great, and the cinematography is good. It's a winner and great exposure for us.

I'm writing because they're holding a fundraiser for the second season, and it's a real one. No funds means no second season.

We've seen a number of web series go down due to lack of funding: Family and The Ethical Slut come to mind. I'd prefer not to have that happen again.

While this series hasn't seen a lot of exposure in the mainstream poly community, it's all over the black-and-poly communities. I'm in contact with the producer, Jackie Stone, and she also has a close relationship with Ron Young, as you can see in the videos. She's getting input from poly folks and looking to do a really positive piece for the community.

I've just contributed. If y'all can either give money or spread this around, you're helping with a poly media win, and really helping out black and poly people. Please and thank you.

Pepper's endorsement works for me. I've chipped in.

Episode 1 of Season 1: Just watch it.

● ShadowandAct.com interviewed Stone: A Provocative New Digital Series About Polyamory from Enchant TV (Oct. 26, 2016).

...Realistic in its depictions of an adult relationship at a crossroads, “Compersion” is a compelling, deliberately-paced psychodrama – moody, but certainly not without wit. It’s a satisfying achievement for the filmmaker, made for an audience that appreciates, is challenged by, or is curious about its provocative, if bold subject matter, which is emblematic of the kind of storytelling that Stone plans to bring to Enchant TV.

Stone, whose past scripts have garnered attention and awards, including Jerome Foundation and IFP Project Involve Fellow honors, says her vision for Enchant TV is to make it a home for dynamic and creative programming that highlights the complexities, as well as the rich and diverse stories of people of color, particularly women.

“As an artist, one of my objectives in television and film is to develop spaces and an aesthetic that will serve as ‘homeplace’ for women of the African Diaspora,” Stone says....

● Stone is a guest on the podcast Directing Magic (Sept. 18, 2016).

● And on the Polychat podcast (Episode 35, Nov. 22, 2016).


Update: And another black poly webseries, 195 Lewis, will make its debut on December 14th:

195 LEWIS is a dramedy series about a group of women navigating the realities of being Black, queer, and poly in New York City.

Based in Brooklyn, the series follows Yuri and Camille as they test the boundaries of their open relationship. Yuri’s growing infatuation with a new lover leaves Camille distressed, which is only amplified by the unexpected arrival of Yuri’s old college friend Kris, who shows up with nowhere else to stay.

● An article about it on KitschMix: Watch ‘195 Lewis’, A Queer Polyamorous Web Series: "Love triangles are easy. Try a love octagon."

● And on OkayAfrica.com: ‘195 Lewis’ is a New Series About Being Black, Queer and Polyamorous in Brooklyn (Dec. 14, 2016).

● And at Bella Books, A queer couple navigates love and polyamory in “195 Lewis” (Dec. 26, 2016).


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December 2, 2016

"What if we thought of monogamy as a spectrum?"

Zachary Zane, a writer on bi and poly topics, gets another thoughtful piece into the Washington Post or at least its website:

What if we thought of monogamy as a spectrum?

By Zachary Zane

...That’s when I learned that I didn’t have to like men and women equally to be bisexual. I learned that sexuality was a spectrum, and my point on the spectrum wasn’t fixed. My attractions to various genders could evolve. In fact, it’s completely normal, and even somewhat expected that my attractions to all genders change over my lifetime.

In my queer theory class in college, I also learned that gender, too, is on a spectrum. Some of us don’t view ourselves as strictly male or female. We can be both, neither, or somewhere in between, a.k.a. bigender, agender or genderqueer.

This led me to ask the question: Since sexuality and gender aren’t living in a binary anymore, does monogamy have to be?

...YouGov recently conducted a study testing the idea of a monogamy spectrum. YouGov asked respondents questions using a seven-point spectrum (0-6), like the Kinsey scale. A zero on the YouGov scale indicated completely monogamous, whereas a six on the scale indicated completely non-monogamous. The researchers asked participants about their ideal relationship style, and their current relationship style.

Interestingly, only 51 percent of people under 30 reported that their ideal relationship would be completely monogamous, compared with 58 percent ages 30 to 44, 63 percent of individuals 45 to 64, and 70 percent of individuals 65 and older.

(Click for larger view)

The study revealed two important findings. First, millennials like myself are less interested in monogamy than our elders are. Second, millennials don’t view monogamy as all or nothing. ... And even though we were brought up in a society that aggressively pushed a monogamous agenda — teaching us that our goal in life is to find our One True Love — we’ve begun to reject this notion.

...Many millennials also have embraced the true meaning of feminism, and neither men nor women want to be limited by traditional gender roles. Monogamy often perpetuates traditional gender roles, whereas a non-monogamous relationship more often doesn’t have the same prescribed script as monogamy. This allows for individuals in non-monogamous relationships to create the roles for themselves as they see fit.

...Partners will have to discuss and decide together. ...

This is what poly activists all along have been trying to insert into mainstream relationship culture. Relationship choice. Instead of assuming that monogamy "goes without saying" as we were raised to assume, discuss your needs and expectations when a relationship starts to look serious. And if non-monogamy is what you want, exactly what kind do you mean?

Couples getting serious didn't used to think they needed to find out whether they both wanted children, or would both follow the same religion, or other important things they were taught "go without saying." To their lasting misery.

America's divorce rate has declined in recent years, after the marriage rate plummeted over the last 45 years (source). The modern ethos of discussing important compatibility issues before marrying is surely part of the reason why. Add mono vs. poly to the list of things to discuss.

The whole article (December 1, 2016).



December 1, 2016

"How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts"

Diana Adams (center), longtime polyactivist and head of a law practice for nontraditional families, posts,

"I did an interview with Vice on how kinky, poly, trans and other nontraditional parents face child custody challenges in Family Courts based on subjective standards that give tremendous leeway to a judge's hidden bias. I got to give my caution about Fetlife profiles and similar online presence if you may have a child custody conflict with your child's other parent."

The story just came out. Plan ahead.

How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts

By Neil McArthur

American family courts — a series of state courts that specifically deal in family law, from child custody cases to divorce proceedings — are a distinctly unsung part of our judicial system. They are rarely discussed in the media and largely absent from the Hollywood spotlight; as a result, few people understand how they work.

But if you are a parent involved in a case subject to their rule, you could easily find yourself at the mercy of a judge with broad power to decide how much, if at all, you get to see your children. Family courts lack juries, so such decisions are delivered from the pen of a sole person. And the system does not treat everyone equally. According to numerous legal practitioners and scholars I spoke to, a widespread bias exists within the system against parents whose views or lifestyles fall outside the American norm, especially sexually.

..."I can predict the likelihood of my success by zip code," said Diana Adams, a family lawyer from New York who has spent the last decade working with clients who are LGBTQ, polyamorous, kinky, or otherwise outside the mainstream. Because family court judges are elected by direct vote in many states, their tolerance of alternative lifestyles tends to correlate with that of the surrounding area. She represents clients in both New York City and more conservative areas of upstate New York, and says that the weight of a parent's sex life upon a judge's decision varies wildly from judge to judge, depending on their political views. She also provides advice to clients out of state, and has noticed a pattern: For clients like hers, Southern and rural areas are unforgiving places for cases to come before family court judges.

When the Supreme Court declared in Lawrence v. Texas that state laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional, it also ruled that states cannot establish laws based purely on the moral disapproval of lawmakers. But as legal scholars have noted, those who come before family courts lack the constitutional protections that apply to criminal cases, in which the discretion of an individual judge is limited and juries are involved.

Though most states now prohibit judges from using sexual orientation as a factor in family court rulings, judges are still free to cite a parent's polyamorous or kinky proclivities — or even a willingness to have non-marital sex — as an explicit reason for handing down rulings. In any case, family court judges are often not explicit about the exact factors that lead to their rulings. Adams recounted one case in which a family court removed a child from the custody of a transgender client, ostensibly because her client's cat was sick the day a child services worker visited and vomit was seen on the floor. But Adams said that "a white cisgender professional mother like me would never lose custody of her child because a sick cat made a mess."...

...Though experts said the attitudes of family court judges are slowly improving from decades past, non-traditional parents increasingly face other types of challenges; Andrew Gilden, a professor at the Willamette University College of Law, worries that people are creating detailed trails of evidence to be used against them in family courts on their phones and personal computers. Adams's experience confirms that fear: She said she's seen many internet dating and Fetlife (a kink-focused social network) profiles introduced in court. ...

Neil McArthur is the director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at University of Manitoba, where his work focuses on sexual ethics and the philosophy of sexuality.

Read the whole article (November 30, 2016).

Bottom line: If there's a chance that a hostile ex or family member might ever go after you or your kids, run a model home and keep your sex life off your phone and the internet.

● Further tips from the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund: Do's and Don't's to Avoid Custody Challenges. So often, when a poly parent gets into a custody case, there's some stupid-in-retrospect thing that, while irrelevant to whether they're a good parent, gives free distraction-ammunition to the other side.

● From the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF):

    – Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles
    – Guidelines for Custody Cases
    – A guide to what to do if someone calls Child Protective Services on you


P. S.  Diana was also quoted today about triad finances, in a Bloomberg Businessweek story How Couples Do Money. At the end is a section titled "How Throuples Do Money":

Not every relationship involves only two people. Diana Adams runs a law firm in New York that specializes in legal and financial planning for nontraditional families, including three-person “throuples,” or “triad” relationships.

Businessweek: This field seems pretty specialized. How new is it?

Adams: Very. We saw a need—particularly in the community of people who are polyamorous and people who are doing platonic co-parenting, such as a gay male couple co-parenting with a single female friend. They’ve been around since the 1970s, but in the last 10 years we’ve seen their numbers skyrocket.

...BW: When a throuple comes to you, what are the most pressing financial issues?

A: If [a] primary original couple was married, they will already have many legal privileges. We talk about how the new partner may not have access to health insurance or immigration benefits, tax benefits. Some people are interested in the creation of an LLC to create the relationship under a corporate structure that would allow people to share property. Sometimes that original couple will decide to get a divorce so that they won’t have that privileged status over the third person.

BW: What about divorce? For example, if three parties own a house in equal shares, can two partners force a sale?

A: That issue definitely does come up. We try to create an agreement in the very beginning so that we won’t have a forced sale. Especially with a three-person dynamic, it can end up in massive litigation because the courts don’t know what to do with it. The legal system tends to be about 20 years behind.


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