Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

March 31, 2019

On opposite end of Earth, "Is polyamory on the rise?"

In the last two weeks, while New Zealand was in world news for a very different reason, the country's public broadcaster put up three pieces about polyamory after none for two years. The first is a long feature article on Radio New Zealand's news site:

Is polyamory on the rise?

By Michael Hall

Interest in polyamorous lifestyles may go beyond mere titillation, says an Auckland intimacy counsellor, as more people express an openness to define their own sexuality and sexual behaviours outside of traditional norms.

(At last! A three-from-behind stock photo with hands expressing poly solidarity rather than behind-the-back cheating. Photo/123RF)

Angela Rennie, 43, has been offering specialist sex and intimacy counselling from her Mount Eden practice for the past seven years.

She says her anecdotal experience of talking to clients suggests traditional relationship paradigms are being challenged, revised and even replaced altogether, with more interest in polyamory, where more than one partner is in an intimate relationship with the consent of all involved.

"It is hard to know exact statistics, but many people feel freer to be open about their lifestyle choices in today's society," says Ms Rennie.

"Polyamorous relationships are not necessary less intense than monogamous relationships. These relationships can be very intense. I have seen many couples live this lifestyle in healthy ways, remaining deeply connected. However, just like monogamous relationships, many poly relationships don't work out."

...While hippie free love was part of a marginal counter-culture, forms of polyamory today could be more of an authentic expression of the zeitgeist.

Intimacy without exclusivity

In a technological society driven by desire to consume, to satiate appetites and an unbridled focus on the self, it would be reasonable to think these cultural influences would permeate through to the relationships we have and want to pursue. ... Entering into a marriage or a long-term monogamous relationship was, for those conditioned by the culture, a type of commodity exchange of equal or higher-value to one's own sense of individual value.

...But whereas those seeking monogamous commitment look for one person to fulfil this commodity exchange, for those practising a polyamorous lifestyle there is no need to make an all-encompassing choice of just one well-rounded person. Many commodities can fulfil many needs and expectations. ...

Intimacy counsellor Angela Rennie
[Says Rennie,] "It takes a lot of bravery to be willing to have both emotional and physical closeness with one person. It can make sense to separate these out in different people, it's a lot 'safer' and people can feel a lot less vulnerable."

Jay is a 33-year-old Aucklander who has been happily polyamorous for five years, since a painful ending to a monogamous relationship with a long-term girlfriend.

He expresses unease at describing himself as poly, due to behaviours of single men who feel the label gives them carte blache to do as they please, regardless of the feelings of others.

"I'm a single, straight guy, of which there are many in the community who label themselves as polyamorous when actually they just want an excuse to sleep with people without any emotional accountability. It seems a bit sleazy to me," he says.

[Says Rennie,] "I have had a client say: 'at least they won't cheat on me if they're allowed to see other people'. ... Unfortunately, betrayal happens in poly relationships as frequently as monogamous relationships."

Twenty-eight-year-old Aucklander Ravina has pursued polyamorous relationships since her teens and found it initially fraught with difficulties, until meeting her boyfriend 18 months ago.

"I have always been interested in polyamory, and unsuccessfully attempted it several times as teen and young adult, before discovering my current partner and working out how to get it right," he says.

"The big issue during my earlier years was that we were not confident enough in ourselves to overcome the societal and cultural expectations of monogamy." ... She says polyamory remains challenging at times, but in comparison to past experiences of monogamy, she is more at peace within herself. ...

Read on (March 28, 2019).

The other two pieces are from recent radio broadcasts on the network's program about sex and relationships:

BANG! Season 3 Episode 4: Pretty Poly. Article and 50-minute podcast (March 25).

In this episode of BANG!, Melody Thomas speaks with people practicing polyamory, open relationships, swinging, and "relationship anarchy". Plus Auckland-based counsellor Dee Morgan and co-author of polyamory handbook The Ethical Slut Janet W. Hardy give their advice.

RNZ / Pinky Fang

...The private NZ Polyamory Facebook group has more than 1000 members, KiwiSwingers.co.nz claims to have more than 100,000 people signed up, and workshops and talks about how to open up your relationship are popping up around the country.

Anecdotally, people who have been part of ethically non-monogamous communities for decades report that practitioners are a more diverse bunch than ever before.

Janet W. Hardy, author of polyamory bible The Ethical Slut, says, “The nature of our audiences has changed… in the old days it was mostly Renaissance Fair geeks and old hippies and other people who were on the fringes, and these days it’s everybody.”

Rosie Morrison, 27, grew up in Timaru. She first heard about polyamory when she moved to Wellington and met a bunch of people who were doing relationships differently.

“At the start I think I was pretty taken aback like, ‘whoa that’s radical!’ She says. “By the end I was like, ‘I want in! That sounds awesome.’ ”

...Rosie is what’s referred to affectionately in the community as a “baby poly” -- someone who’s just starting out on the polyamorous path. Some more experienced polyamorous people will actively avoid getting into relationships with baby polys because the learning curve is so steep (others don’t mind).

Dee Morgan runs QPK counselling in Auckland, and specialises in supporting “queer, polyamorous and kinky folk”. Dee prefers the term “consensual non-monogamy” over “ethical non-monogamy” as ethics are subjective. She’s practiced polyamory herself for 16 years, and has lots of practical advice for baby polys. ...

[Says Morgan], ...“And it can take quite a lot of time for the headspace to shift and for them to go ‘Oh! This means they can fall in love with someone and choose to stay’.”

“Ultimately, if they’re in a relationship, everyone chooses every day to stay in that relationship, but we don’t tend to think about that when that’s the only partner. When you’re polyamorous I think there’s an increased awareness that yeah, my partners are with me because they choose to be with me.”

BANG! The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. Article and 30-minute podcast (March 20):

Here’s the story we’ve been told:

For as long as humans have existed, men and women have made a trade. He offers her protection, food, shelter and status, and in return she promises to be his “one and only”, so he can be sure of his paternity when it comes to her children.

They enter into this bargain despite conflicting biological agendas. Because sperm is metabolically inexpensive, it’s in his best interest to spread his seed as far and wide as possible. Because she’s facing a long pregnancy, plus breastfeeding and a couple of years with a toddler -- it’s in her best interest to lock him in. ...

Christopher Ryan
In Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, co-authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá take this story, which they refer to as the “standard narrative of human sexual evolution” and flip it on its head.

Analysing decades of research from the fields of primatology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology and biology, Ryan and Jethá build a picture of human sexual evolution in which “sexual exclusivity was not really part of our ancestor’s expectations around relationships.”

Basically -- our ancestors were much more sexually promiscuous than the ‘standard narrative’ has given them credit for, and this appetite for sexual variety, sharing sexual partners in much the same way as other resources were shared, served both to ensure genetically healthy offspring and to reinforce group bonds at a time when social cohesion was incredibly important.

This is how it works for bonobos....

...So if monogamy isn’t natural to us, when did the concept enter into human existence?

Ryan reiterates the thinking put forward [by] Friedrich Engels in the late 1800s and others before him, that monogamy is an artefact of the agricultural revolution. ...

Polyamory and other models of “ethical non-monogamy” are currently experiencing a boom in popularity.... But, according to Chris and Cacilda, just because monogamy isn’t “natural” to us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try -- if that’s what we want.

“Monogamy is like vegetarianism, clearly it’s not the natural behaviour of our species. Our species is omnivorous… But that doesn’t mean that vegetarianism is wrong… All we’re saying is, approach this from a position where you’re informed....

● That previous Radio NZ story two years ago was Diana Adams -- family law for nontraditional families (20 minutes. Feb. 7, 2017).

And while we're at it, in Kiwi newspapers in the last few years:

Polyamory and the complicated lives of those with multiple lovers (Sept. 17, 2017)

When polyamorous people tell you their way of life is not for the faint-hearted, they're not flipping kidding.

"Yes, we're all a bit nuts," *Samantha, 35, says of her own complicated but contented domestic life with a girlfriend who also has a boyfriend.

"We have some basic tenets that we live by. Don't be a dick is one of them. This means that if any of us chooses to engage in physical activity with a person outside the group, or decides to pursue a relationship outside the current structure, we do so with the greatest possible respect for everyone else and their feelings." ...

Three isn't a crowd as polyamory gets popular (Aug. 30, 2016)

There's another sexual revolution coming, a hip new bedroom trend the early adopters are just loving. ...

Do polyamorous relationships actually make for a better life? (June 12, 2015)

..."I think nonmonogamy frees you, definitely," writes a polyamorous woman from Melbourne I met on a discussion board the other month while searching for a source on the subject.

"But at the outset, I think it's important to understand that CNM (consensual nonmonogamy) exists on a continuum. ...

Laurie Penny: 'I've been polyamorous for nearly a decade. Here's how I make it work' (Oct. 15, 2017)

When I told my magazine editor that I wanted to write about polyamory, she adjusted her monocle, puffed on her pipe and said, "In my day, young lady, we just called it 'shagging around'."

So I consider it my duty to her and the rest of the unenlightened to explain what it is that's different about how the kids are doing it these days.

...What's new is talking about it like grown-ups. It's the conversations. It's the texts with your girlfriend's boyfriend about what to get her for her birthday. It's sharing your Google calendars to make sure nobody feels neglected. ... Far more of my polyamorous life involves making tea and talking sensibly about boundaries, safe sex and whose turn it is to do the washing-up. ...

● An agony aunt offers straight advice: Mrs Salisbury: I have a boyfriend but want a girlfriend too (May 9, 2018)

...Polyamory requires complete openness, excellent communication skills and the maturity to cope with the jealousy and fears that may arise. A contract is negotiated between all parties; there is no room for secrecy between the adults involved.

...There are various forms of poly relationships that you two could try. Sometimes a couple decide theirs is the primary relationship but each will be free to pursue additional relationships individually.... Sometimes a triad is formed, with three people in committed relationship or with one deeply involved with each of the other two but they not choosing to relate with each other. Sometimes four or more people form a close relationship system with agreement on whether each will be sexually exclusive to the group or not.

If these sound complex that's because they are. Making any relationship of two people successful takes a lot of work; that work is multiplied by involving others.


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March 25, 2019

Representing your poly group on local TV news: Five examples

Getting your polyamory group's message onto local TV can be surprisingly easy. Local news-and-talk shows may even help you announce your next public event. A fine example aired a few days ago on KVRR-TV for the Fargo area of North Dakota.

Click here to watch the video (4:30).

Lindsay Fouke (at right) was poised, relatable, and came ready with talking points. You can do this too! If I have any suggestions for her next TV appearance, it would be to remember to smile often — especially important when delivering a message that some will find difficult — and maybe to reconsider the item of face jewelry. In the closeups it often distracts from what she's saying, partly because it reflects glints of studio light as her lips move. Viewers only pay attention to one thing at a time, so as Joreth Innkeeper advises people going on TV, "De-emphasize aspects [of your appearance] that will distract from your message."

Joreth created the Polyamory Media Association site, which offers top-flight, professional advice for anyone appearing in mass media — especially TV, the most demanding. Joreth is a professional camera operator, among other things, in real life.

The Fargo station was quite willing to boost the group's next public event and put details on the segment's page on the station's website (posted March 22, 2019):

It’s one of the least well-understood subgroups in love relationships, and in fact, it’s only been recognized a few years as a social phenomenon.

So it might surprise you that a group devoted to polyamory — or relationships that feature consensual non-monogamy — is alive and well and operating right here in the Red River Valley.

It’s a group called PolyAware, and it exists to help people understand what the practice of polyamory is, how it works in people’s lives, and why it’s different than cheating on your partner.

...PolyAware’s Lindsay Fouke sat down in-studio with the Morning Show’s Emily Welker to talk about [the group's upcoming public] “Shift Happens” session, and explained some common beliefs, misapprehensions and more about the practice of polyamory.

[The event:] Sunday, March 24th, 1 p.m.
Pride Collective and Community Center
1105 1st Avenue South, Fargo

This is typical of the friendly treatment you'll get from local TV if they think you are interesting local material, which they always need. And it doesn't even matter if it's a Fox affiliate.

Here are some previous examples of good poly representation. Watching them, can you spot any dos and don'ts that you can learn from?

● "Chicago Tonight" on WTTW, the city's PBS station, ran a thoughtful, 11-minute (!) interview with Chicago Polyamory Connection co-founder Caroline Kearns and poly-friendly therapists Rami Henrich and Jennifer Rafacz (May 30, 2017. More info.) Watch below:

● An MFM trio shines on KRIV Fox-26 TV in Houston. Watch it here (May 1, 2017. More info.) A still:

● On WJLA's "Good Morning Washington" (DC): "Debunking Polyamory Myths," featuring the four brilliant and interesting young people in the still below. Watch it here. (July 1, 2016. More info.)

● Open Love NY activist Gette Levy salvaged an otherwise dull-headed TV report about polyamory in New York City, on WPIX Channel 11 (May 2, 2016. More info.) Watch below:

● Again, I recommend Joreth's Polyamory Media Association site. Topics there include:


● Another valuable read: John Ullman's Doing a Media Interview? Tempted? Make Sure it’s not Poly In, Garbage Out, on Loving More's site. The article is old but still good as new.

● Want to become a poly media representative more widely? Robyn Trask, Loving More's director, is ready to offer you tips from her own long experience — and she might add you to her list of people to refer media to when they call Loving More asking for interviewees.


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March 22, 2019

In the New York Times, "A Dating App for Three, Plus"

Feeld, which some people tell me is the friendliest of the new apps specifically for group dating, got a writeup in the Style section of yesterday's New York Times:

A Dating App for Three, Plus

Nonmonogamous coupling — and “thruppling” — has been lubricated by the internet.

Emily Keegin; Shutterstock

By Haley Mlotek

Feeld is a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.

If you’re single, you can set up an account stating your preferences and curiosities, as you might with any other service. The app lists 20 possibilities for sexuality alone, including heteroflexible (straight-ish) and homoflexible (gay, for the most part).

But couples and partners can sign up, too, in service of finding a third — or a fourth.

The app was released in 2014 by Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, two graphic designers living in London, as 3nder (pronounced “Thrinder”). They hoped to appeal to individuals and partners looking to join or have threesomes. But after Tinder filed a lawsuit and the company rebranded as Feeld (as in “playing the”), the founders said they welcomed the opportunity to expand the mission of the app.

“Feeld is a platform for alternative dating, for people who are beyond labels,” Ms. Kirova said in an interview. “They can meet each other without the necessity of coming from a very defined place with a very defined requirement.”

According to the company... about 35 percent are on the app with a partner, and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. (Gender options include nonbinary, intersex and two-spirit, as well as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer and gender-questioning.)

Feeld facilitates types of sexual attachment that are not exactly novel, but are often described in novel terms. (See “thrupple,” a term sometimes used to describe a romantic partnership for three people.) ...The company... says there are currently 12,000 connections made on Feeld and an average of 100,000 messages sent daily. ...

(OkCupid recently added a feature that allows couples to link their accounts in their pursuit of a third.)

...Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova, who began dating six years ago... made Feeld as much for their users as for themselves.

Mr. Trifonov said that they had been together for two years when Ms. Kirova revealed she also had feelings for a woman. “She felt really bad about it, like she was doing something wrong,” he said. ...[They] wanted to stay together while also giving Ms. Kirova space to try other relationships, but they didn’t like the options available to them. (They decided to search as a couple.) They felt unfairly judged by the label “swingers,” and recall users on other dating apps reaching out to say they shouldn’t be in spaces intended for single people. ...


...Now, the company is up and running more or less smoothly, with some 20 people employed. In the tradition of small businesses everywhere, all workers do multiple tasks, and titles are given more for the benefit of people outside than those within it. (The company also runs an event series on nonmonogamy [Feeld Experiences] and put out a magazine [Mal, "a journal of sexuality and erotics seeking to create new ground for writing about sex, gender, race & LGBTQ+ issues"].)...

If they had stayed simply a threesome app, Mr. Trifonov believes it would have died as a threesome app. ...

Read the whole article (in the print issue March 21, 2019; online March 20).

Update: Perhaps prompted by this story, the UK Times (no relation to the NYT) has published this: Want a threesome? Try Feeld, the polyamory dating app (April 18, 2019. Paywalled.)



March 20, 2019

USA Today contributor declares for poly. Buuut. . .

In this morning's USA Today online, by a millennial contributor:

Polyamory isn't just about sex or lack of commitment. People should be free to explore their options.

By Victoria Gagliardo-Silver, Opinion contributor

I do not feel threatened by feelings or relationships my partners have with other people because that does not make our relationship any less real.

...My friend looked horrified at the notion of me being "the other woman" in someone else's relationship, which I was quick to explain that was not the case. I, my new partner and his girlfriend, like many other millennials, are polyamorous.

Polyamory, or nonmonogamy, defined as the practice of having one or more open romantic relationships at any given time, has gotten a bad rap in modern culture. ...

But, did she fluff the definition there? Whatever people think "open" means, she left out that poly is "with the full knowledge and consent of all involved." Although it becomes clear later on that that's what she means.

....Myths and even positive news media portrayal show us that polyamory is all about crazy group sex, disloyalty and lack of commitment, something even I was guilty of believing at one point.

And if you fumble the definition, casual readers may get those ideas from you too.

In reality, polyamory is a lot less sexy or radical than it has been portrayed in the media. It is not just about having tons of sex or not committing, it is a refusal to limit myself to receiving love and affection from any one person. Instead, I am open to explore whatever may or may not develop, creating lasting friendships and honest relationships without expectations.

Whew, okay, there's the honesty part.

As a young woman in my 20s in a city of 8.6 million, monogamy feels restrictive and unsustainable. There isn't anything wrong with monogamy as a concept, but many young people, like myself, are exploring new types of relationships. ...

(This graph does not tell whether there were many or few
searches on "polyamory" in 2018. It only shows their relative
weekly numbers, scaled to set the peak week at "100%.")
In 2018, the term "polyamory" was a constant high-interest term in Google searches. And our changing culture and growing acceptance of identity beyond the binary have paved the way for queer relationships and polyamory to be seen as valid.

I was introduced to the concept of polyamory in the late summer of 2018 by a new friend, Deborah Joan. I was baffled by how she was able to balance a boyfriend, a (nonlegal) husband, a girlfriend, a fiancé in Europe and her five pets. In seeing Deborah interact with and speak about each person she loved, I learned that love shouldn't be restricted, that feeling love is the most human experience. It was then that I understood what polyamory really was about: sharing and engaging in a human experience.

It is not defined by sex but rather honesty. I am able to openly explore my own feelings toward other people; I am comfortable ending things with anyone I am seeing at any point; and most important for me, I am able to speak openly about my polyamorous endeavors with all of my partners. Monogamy might be something I am open to in the future, but at this point in my life, as a young 20-something in New York City, polyamory has given me everything I felt was lacking in my dating life.

...I have been given the opportunity to create healthier partnerships without the restrictions of monogamy. No longer do I find myself concerned about my partner "cheating" as I no longer expect them to only see me; I don't feel the need to look through their phones or ask where they were. I do not feel threatened by feelings or relationships they have with other people because that does not make our relationship any less real, or any less ours.

Rather, I feel an abundance of love, attention and affection that I am privileged enough to be able to exist in with people I care about. ...

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver is a New York-based writer and student. You can follow her on Twitter: @Viccsilver.

The whole article (March 20, 2019).

As with many millennials, her relationship style sounds like Relationship Anarchy, a well-developed philosophy that overlaps polyamory but is in some ways distinct.

Update: This piece made USA Today's selection of 6 of our top opinion pieces this week: ICYMI (March 22).


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March 19, 2019

"Open Earth," a sci-fi graphic novel about polyamory in space

I discovered this on AL.com, a mainstream newspaper site for the state of Alabama. Not quite what I expected there, though Alabama does have Huntsville, home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Open Earth was written by Sarah Mirk of Portland, author of Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules. The artists, Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre, also draw Kim & Kim, a "science fiction adventure comic about two young queer women working as dimension-hopping interplanetary bounty hunters."

Here's the AL.com article, including a long interview with Mirk. Excerpts:

The 'sweet' and 'sexy' guide to polyamory in space

By Will Nevin

If our ability to travel and survive for extended periods in space gets better, but our will to curb greenhouse gasses and global warming stays about the same, what might happen?

What would life be like if we just abandoned Earth?

What would we take with us? Stuff would be limited. ... But our morals, our philosophical views, our outlook on life and love and relationships wouldn’t have to fit in an overhead bin.

And yet, would we leave them behind anyway?

Last September, Limerence Press — an Oni imprint that focuses on sex education and erotica comics — published “Open Earth,” [which] imagines life above a ruined Earth to be very different from the one most of us know now, in that the next generation — one born in space — might view monogamous relationships as a thing best left on the dead planet below.

“Open Earth” is warm and funny and (being on an adult line) just a little spicy. It was also one of the most revolutionary things published last year. I chatted with Mirk via email on how the book came together, about love and diversity and what the future might hold for the world she has created.

Q: How would you summarize "Open Earth," and how would you describe Rigo, the main protagonist?

The author
Sarah Mirk “Open Earth” is an upbeat, erotic sci-fi story set on a space station after the climate collapse of Earth. It chronicles a day in the life of the people growing up on the station, who have intertwining friendships and sexual relationships. Rigo is part of the first generation of people born in space. At 20 years old, the space station California is all she knows, so she’s skeptical of her parents’ interest in Earth traditions like monogamy and ruminating on the past. ...

Science fiction, collectivist philosophy and an exploration of polyamory might otherwise be taken up in separate works, but here, they're interwoven themes. How do these subjects speak to one another, and ultimately, how does "self" figure into all of them?

...In my mind, the generation of space-born young people see themselves as individuals, but because they’re living in very tight quarters and with extremely limited resources, they don’t have the same concepts around property, ownership and jealousy that we do today. The biggest difference, from a relationship standpoint, is that people are free to be intimate with whoever they want — there is not an expectation of monogamy, because that would lead to tension and resentment. Instead, the norm is that you can have sex with whoever you want, but you’ve got to be honest and open about it. No secrets! No one has a private room on the ship, everyone has at least one roommate and hogging space to yourself is discouraged. But they’re not collectivist zombies. I think humans will always be interested in having privacy, which is the core of having a self. On the California, the most precious commodity is privacy. Every conversation is subject to eavesdropping, everyone knows who is hooking up with who — even if they’d rather not. ...

The parents’ generation is much more tied into how history shapes identity — they named their kids after heroes on Earth and are trying to keep those stories and traditions alive. But the younger generation doesn’t see themselves that way, they see identity as more fluid, ever-shifting and not rooted in history at all. ...

Read the whole piece (Feb. 13, 2019)

A review in Mirk's hometown Portland Mercury: Polyamorous Sci-Fi Graphic Novel Open Earth Feels Lost in Space (Oct. 11, 2018)

By Andrew Jankowski

“Honesty keeps us alive” is a recurring phrase in Open Earth, the debut graphic novel penned by comics writer, author, and (full disclosure!) former Portland Mercury reporter Sarah Mirk. The motto refers not only to the practice of sharing the small quarters of an Earth-orbiting space station, but to its citizens — especially a polyamorous generation that has only ever lived in space.

...Open Earth presents a day-in-the-life look at life aboard the space station California... . Rigo narrates in the California’s official language, Spanglish, and it’s obvious that racism and body shaming are deader than monoculture and capitalism. The book’s main conflict, Rigo’s desire to move out of her parents’ quarters and into those of a partner, is only a problem because she doesn’t know how to tell anyone involved — her parents, her partner, or her other partners. Rigo’s life is a no-frills utopia or, depending on how you feel about non-monogamy drama, a cheery dystopia.

...Open Earth succeeds as an easy, low-stakes read about navigating multiple romantic relationships and having sex in space. But it’s disappointing that the book lacks out-of-this-world situations, especially since the medium of comics is constrained only by a budget of imagination. The space station Rigo lives on ends up looking like a utility closet much of the time, and despite a diverse cast, no one except Rigo has much personality. Furthermore, considering the explicitness of the book’s sex scenes, the space sex is unforgivably tame. ...

...Open Earth has potential as a series, especially if it goes on to explore the other characters and expand its plotline about this new generation taking the station’s cultural reins. As a standalone, though, Open Earth feels more interested in education than story.


While we're on graphic novels, there's the sweet queer poly Sugartown by Hazel Newlevant. Publisher's description: "A bisexual, polyamorous love story for the modern era. Hazel is already in a happy relationship when she meets Argent, a woman who works as a dominatrix, but is sweet and tender outside the bedroom. How will she negotiate this new romance with her boyfriend back home? And what about his other girlfriend?"

Two pages from it:


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March 12, 2019

Bright sides, and dark, of tech's emerging culture of polyamory, intimacy and social exploration

Vice has published the latest article about the culture of polyamory, sex-positivism, and mind expansion that is emerging en masse in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Add to this a big dash of new wealth and power, and it's not always a happy thing.

Ignore the tabloid-style headline; the article is worth reading. Excerpts:


Silicon Valley's Latest Bizarre Craze Is 'Organized Intimacy'

By Andrew Chamings

Much has been written about how the culture and fun has been sucked out of [San Francisco] since the second tech boom. ... Threesomes are tricky on a murphy bed.

In actuality, they’ve just gotten weirder, more organized, more frequent, and sometimes don't exactly involve sex ... from lunch-break tantric speed dates, to lakeside eye contact parties....

...San Francisco sex and intimacy parties in 2019 have been forever altered by the world of tech and money.

...The current popularity of living polyamorously is just as much about having more people to share the rent. Nevertheless, the new San Francisco transplants of the second tech boom are craving intimacy, and local event organizers are more than happy to help. A look on Eventbrite or Facebook on any given weeknight will present various new ways to get cozy with strangers — from lectures on tantra, workshops on “rope play,” sold out cuddle parties, something called "the Heart Fuck!," and another promising “Somantic Exploration” — a “very special evening of dance, connection and PLAY!”

...Nick Meador [organizer of the Cacao, Consent and Conscious Dance Party]... tells me he believes the Bay Area “is a good sandbox to experiment with new social structures and community constellations.... I've traveled a lot and I've never seen this unique mix of practical self-development opportunities, social justice initiatives, and a willingness to explore the taboo and the unusual.”

Elsewhere, those wishing to make connections can simply look into one another’s eyes. That’s the thrust of the world’s biggest [eye gazing] experiment on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland, where the high is delivered not from cacao, but from the release of oxytocin....

Allyson Darling, a writer in San Francisco, attended the mass gazing event, which she described as “more intimate than an orgy” for The Bold Italic. ... “The overall vibe of the event was...weird,” she tells me. “Some people were social and talking and joking around people sitting on the ground and staring into each other's eyes. People’s goals for attending the event were rooted in intimacy."

“There are few things more intimate than looking into someone’s eyes for an uncapped amount of time, whether they’re strangers or not," she says.

...Walking around a city where everyone thinks they are changing the world can be exhausting. You can smell hubris on the streets, alongside a lot of other undesirable scents. But in an industry where even at the biggest firms, team-building cuddle puddles and micro-dosing mushrooms at work are encouraged, the idea of finding new unchartered ways to love each other seems very normal. ...

Most of this New Era of Intimacy is clean (albeit out there), consensual fun. But just as the Summer of Love was eventually hijacked by pimps and bad dudes looking to use “Free Love” as an excuse to bang anything walking along Haight Street, the more drug-fueled orgiastic “cuddle puddles” of today have been exposed as toxic and sometimes dangerous events that revert back to a very unprogressive and misogynistic dynamic, in which entrepreneurial tech 2.0 entitlement and hubris is leveraged to excuse treating women, usually lower on the career ladder, as little more than sex toys. ...

The whole article (March 7, 2019).

● See also the many other posts here about poly in the tech world.


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March 2, 2019

The three recent polyamory stories on Canada's CBC

That lovely TV profile of a polyfamily in Calgary, Canada, came shortly after three serious treatments of polyamory on CBC, Canada's national broadcasting service. Was it inspired by them?

Only in the first one below did I learn about Ontario's All Families Are Equal Act, passed in 2016. Its key part relevant to polyfamilies is this:

References assuming two parents

(4) If, under this Part, a child has more than two parents, a reference in any Act or regulation to the parents of the child that is not intended to exclude a parent shall, unless a contrary intention appears, be read as a reference to all of the child’s parents, even if the terminology used assumes that a child would have no more than two parents.

● Accordingly, Matthew Pearson, a member of the out-and-proud FF and MM queer couples below, told their story of group parenting on CBC Radio's "The Sunday Edition": The Mamas and the Papas: How two Ottawa couples became co-parents (Jan. 27, 2019). He also wrote the article that appears with the audio on the show's website:

The Ontario law passed in 2016 gave equal rights to same-sex parents and multi-parent families. That's us.

The four co-parents in August 2016, when Karin was pregnant with Zora, their first child. Matthew is at left. (Matthew Pearson/CBC)

By Matthew Pearson

In the fall of 2016, I sat in the visitor's gallery at Queen's Park and witnessed the introduction of the All Families Are Equal Act.

The bill was enacted to enshrine in law the basic premise that all parents in Ontario deserve equal rights, regardless of the route they took to become a parent.

...The new law also cleared a path for multi-parent families, allowing up to four parents to be listed on a child's birth certificate. It was a game-changer for families like mine, which is comprised of four people — two queer couples — who joined forces with the intention of raising children together.


I always wanted to be a dad, but I was focused on finding a partner first. Didn't I need to be with someone before I — or we — could decide to even have children?

That changed when my friend Karin, who, like me, was single, in her late 30s and identified as queer, asked me if I'd consider having a child with her.

...We started spending more time together, and we talked about the kind of things you talk about with someone you might spend your life with — values, beliefs, despair, dreams. We peeked into every corner of each other's life in an attempt to answer a singular question: Could I raise a child with this person?

As the answer became clear, something rather unexpected happened — we fell in love — with other people.

Karin met Janette at a mutual friend's wedding and I later met Alain through mutual friends. By a stroke of magic — and some serious heart-to-heart talks with these new partners — they both decided to take the plunge and join Karin and me on our co-parenting adventure.

The four of us spent hours talking about how the arrangement would work. We drafted and signed a parenting agreement — a contract outlining our expectations, responsibilities and values. It established how we would split our time with our child, including holidays, and how we would make decisions about the child's health and education. It also included a process for resolving conflicts.

...There was no roadmap for this kind of family, so we created our own. ...

Negotiating with one other person is likely hard enough, but we have four people. Four opinions, perspectives and desires, which sometimes vary. Four sets of arms wanting to hold and cuddle one little baby.

We had to learn to communicate clearly, to compromise, and to trust that we were in this together. We were family now.

On Family Day in 2018, the five visited the
National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
(Matthew Pearson/CBC)
...One of the upsides of co-parenting with three other people is the downtime — something all parents of young children could probably use more of.

...A few months after Zora was born, her birth certificate arrived in the mail. It listed all four of us as her parents.

Light as that piece of paper was, it was heavy with meaning. It was an affirmation that our family existed; that some space had been made somewhere in Canada for families that looked like ours.​

Karin will soon give birth to our family's second child, which will thrust all of us back into the bleary world of parenting a newborn.

Meanwhile, Alain and I just bought a house a stone's throw from Karin and Janette's, which will soon free us from cross-town commutes.

In the beginning, we were two — Karin and me. Then we were four with Janette and Alain. Zora's birth made us five. And soon we'll be six. Two moms, two dads, two children.

One family.

You can stream the 25-minute show with the "Listen" button on the original article. Or download the mp3 file (January 27, 2019).

● A couple weeks later, CBC Radio's "The Conversation" — one of Canada's most-listened-to radio shows — aired a 9-minute interview with a couple who opened their marriage by the conventional route: How this polyamorous couple makes their marriage work (Feb. 5):

'Just because it doesn't look or sound 'normal,' doesn't mean that it can't be wildly beautiful'

Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders have talked about sex and relationships more than most couples.

That's partly because they co-host Turn Me On, a podcast they describe as "a no-holds-barred conversation about what it is to be a sexual being in the world."

...MacLean has a long-term boyfriend. Saunders has a long-term girlfriend and casually dates other people.

"Together the four of us have a very platonic and supportive relationship," said Saunders.

...Here are some of things that have helped keep their marriage on track.

Put it on paper

Bryde MacLean: "[Before opening up our marriage] we wrote up a contract [which is on our website] in as much detail as we could about all the potential concerns we had. Don't talk about our problems with other people, don't criticize each other with other people, have lots of respect and no sleep-overs... We pretty much reviewed and edited that, almost every day, if not once a week, for the least the first six months to a year. It really helped us define what we were doing as we went."

Be trustworthy

Bryde MacLean: "I remember the first time Jeremie told me that he was in love with somebody else. That was really, really challenging. After a couple of weeks of them hanging out a lot, I had to ask him, to ask them both, if they could take it a little slower, if they could limit the number of days per week … Neither one of them wanted to do that, because you're in the the energy of a new relationship and it's exciting … But they did and it was really respectful. It's really important to be trustworthy."

Work together

Jeremie Saunders: "It was always an experience that we were doing together, not separately, even though we are separately seeing other people, we're doing this as a team." ...

Why is this "conventional"? Because what they describe is mostly about the couple's rules they made between themselves, with no apparent regard for their other potential partners. Who will turn out to be real people too. Such arrangements can work if these others like being so secondary. Some people do; some are fine with the assumption that they're just friends-with-benefits to the core couple (meaning the third is disposable). Such "deliberate secondaries" may like the freedom from entanglement that this status implies (or should).

But the secondary better be savvy enough to see what the setup is right away — and lay their own needs and boundaries on the table at the outset, while it's still easy to walk away. And put those on paper too.

● A few days later, more modern and healthy approaches (IMO) were described on CBC News in Saskatchewan: 'A different way of doing things': Polyamory challenges idea that monogamy is always the way to go (Feb. 11). This is good, informative one; put it in your "show the parents" collection.

When Kayleigh Kazakoff started seriously dating, she held out hope of finding that one perfect partner, but she found that no one could live up to her expectations.

Then, eight years ago, the 33-year-old from Saskatoon was introduced to polyamory. She said it has made her a better partner in every way.

"I'm way less terrible to date. I would expect (my partner) to be my be-all-end-all. That's not fair pressure to put on anyone," Kazakoff said. "I'm a lot more relaxed now and able to accept my partners for who they are and acknowledge their flaws. I just feel a lot more fulfilled."

Kayleigh Kazakoff identifies as solo poly.
(Naomi Zurevinski)
...Polyamorous relationships can take various forms, including a triad or quad, which is where three or four people are all in a relationship with each other. Triads and quads can be open or closed, meaning they are either exclusive or individuals can have offshoot relationships from there.

...At one point, [Kazakoff] was dating five people. She currently has two partners, one of whom lives in Winnipeg and she's been seeing for five years; the other she has been dating for under a year and is close by.

..."Initially I could do polyamory or monogamy and I was fine with either. As I continued exploring it and (learning) about myself, I discovered it's more who I am than a choice I make."

[We asked 4 ethically non-monogamous daters what their terms are]

Jacq Brasseur, executive director
for the UR Pride Centre
(CBC News/Alex Soloducha)
...Jacq Brasseur, the executive director for UR [University of Regina] Pride Centre, said the idea that jealousy does not exist in polyamorous relationships is one of several misconceptions out there.

"In reality, scheduling isn't going to be easy; holidays aren't going to be easy. I think the other myth has to do with not committing to your partner, and that somehow this is the easy way out," Brasseur said.

"To be successful and to build a loving, supportive partnership in a polyamorous setting involves so much work and I don't think people understand that."

...Brasseur notes that [compersion] is not quite the opposite of jealousy.

"Compersion can be excitement, or it could be a desire to hear about your partner's other relationships — for example, if you want to hear about a first date they had, because first dates are exciting."

Brasseur added that "as we become less judgemental and more willing to understand that different ways of doing things are OK, I think more people will be open about their polyamory."

'You learn to look deep into yourself with what makes you feel comfortable and stable in a relationship, and through that you become more comfortable with yourself, too,' says Lindsay Rose of polyamory. (Naomi Zurevinski)

Lindsay Rose is polyamorous and currently has two committed partners. One of her partners is long-term, and she has been dating her other partner for a few months.

Her long-term partner initially introduced her to polyamory, and Rose immediately became interested because of difficulty she'd had in past relationships.

"I've always kind of been a serial dater and very codependent in my relationships," said Rose, who hails from Saskatoon. "I think it was coming from a place of needing someone else to show me how to love myself. Then I found out it was possible for more than one person to love me, and for me to love more than one person, and I wanted to further explore that."

She said that one of the major misconceptions about her relationship approach is what polyamory is actually all about.

"I'm sure some people assume that those who are poly have 12 different partners and are always looking to add more, but it's about having the option to develop more than one meaningful relationship," said Rose.

"It's not necessarily about seeking, but more so about having the freedom to explore things as they come up. If a human comes into my life that I enjoy, I'll pursue that relationship."


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