Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 3, 2019

The high-culture polyamory feature in today's New York Times

It's only been online for a few hours, but today's 2,300-word feature article in the New York Times Style section, "Polyamory Works for Them," is getting a lot of attention judging from the Google alerts coming in.

It presents a stunning view of polyamory, enhanced by Yael Malka's gorgeous photography, that is not the one I'm familiar with in my part of the poly world. The people come across as the social and sexual upper crust of New York City's young style-and-culture influencers.

And BTW, I counted: This time the photography presents 15 black faces, 9 white ones, and 2 that I don't classify. I wonder if someone at the Times Style section took on board the criticisms of whitewashing and tokenism that followed the Times's last massive, photo-heavy CNM feature, Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? (May 11, 2017). Tip 'o the hat to Kevin, Antoinette, and Ruby for kicking up that storm.

Polyamory Works for Them

Having multiple partners can mean more pleasure, but it’s not always easy.

Polyamory breaks a mind-set that Narjesi Tragic, right, calls “the relationship escalator: meet at school, get married, have kids, continue until we get old.” Here, Narjesi is pictured with Tiana North, whom they date, Orion Starbreeze, who dates Tiana but not Narjesi, and Mr. Starbreeze’s partner Brat James. All four are friends.

Photographs by Yael Malka
Text by Alice Hines
Produced by Eve Lyons

Through a half-century of sexual upheaval, monogamy has been a curious stalwart.

...Yet in certain concrete burrows, monogamy’s inverse is on the rise. Jade Marks, a 26-year-old artist and herbalist in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, recalled a recent post by a friend on Instagram: “Are there any other queers out there who are monogamous?”

...Most weekends in New York ... there are lecture series, workshops and discussion groups. There are cocktail hours and meet-and-greets. And there are, of course, parties.

On a recent Saturday night in Crown Heights, an angelic gatekeeper in a pastel harness did her best to assure a reporter that she wouldn’t be a total buzz kill at a private party of 200 mostly straight, mostly non-monogamous New Yorkers. “Just watching is O.K.!” she said outside the site, a loft lit like an infrared sauna. “Have a good time! Stay hydrated! And always ask for consent!”

Inside were some of the happiest-looking sober adults ever seen after 2 a.m. “It’s like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ meets a Gaspar Noé film,” said a Scandinavian digital artist and recent Brooklyn transplant. He and his girlfriend were attending for the first time; they had read about the party, called NSFW, on the internet.

NSFW caters to the 25-to-35 age bracket, has an all-black dress code and is made up of 60 percent women, according to its founder, Daniel Saynt. Its application for membership requires a social media profile link (“It’s very curated,” Mr. Saynt said) and responses to open-ended and check-box questions.... That may sound like the precursor to a job interview, but the point is to ensure that the needs of attendees are met. Wouldn’t it be nice if other clubs worked that way?

...“I don’t think that polyamory is somehow more evolved than monogamy,” said Zhana Vrangalova, a sex researcher who will teach an online course for couples and individuals seeking to open their relationships this fall. “But it should be an option. People should have more options.”

That was a maxim for the two dozen non-monogamous people interviewed for this article. ...

“I got indoctrinated with monogamy,” Tourmaline, left, said. “It’s important for us not to reproduce that with non-monogamy.”

Consensual or ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term that encompasses various relationship models, including polyamory, open relationships, sexual encounters with more than two people and swinging. Polyamorists are interested in exploring long-term relationships with multiple people. Swingers tend to be older couples opening their marriages recreationally.

...In major cities, there are plenty of ways for non-monogamous and polycurious people to meet, among them apps, dinners, friends, blind dates and parties. In New York, organized sex parties include Chemistry, which requires a Q. and A. application and photo, but doesn’t screen for a particular look; NYC Inferno, a gay play party that mostly attracts cisgender men but is open to queer, trans and nonbinary people (Playhouse, a spinoff event, revolves around trans guys); Skirt Club, a members-only club for bisexual women; and Wonderland, which welcomes everyone as long as they bring a buddy who will vouch for them, and are committed to fantastical dress codes (“Ancients vs. Aliens,” “Dungeons and Drag Queens”).

...Now a cottage industry of coaches and educators has cropped up to help polyamorous partners strive for compersion, the happy-for-you alternative to jealousy. Effy Blue, a relationship coach in Brooklyn, works with all of the following: triads, or three people in a committed relationship together; individuals seeking to transparently date multiple lovers simultaneously; partners who each have intimate friends, all of whom are close; and clients cultivating long-term relationships with someone who already has a primary partner.

“There is no single model that suits everyone,” Ms. Blue said. She also wrote a book on play-party etiquette. “Consent is the cornerstone of any well-produced, healthy and fun sex party,” she said. “This makes it safer and more fun than an average nightclub on any given day.”

Ella Quinlan, a 27-year-old event planner, said she knows hundreds of peers on the East and West Coasts practicing their own flavors of non-monogamy. In her own relationship with Lawrence Blume, a 55-year-old tech investor, Ms. Quinlan’s goal is to enhance what is conventionally beloved about monogamy, she said.

“We want to show people that it’s actually possible to be in a long-term, healthy, satisfying, deeply rooted and connected emotional relationship with somebody — and do this,” Mr. Blume said. ...

...“We’re returning to that nomadic sharing of partners and resources,” [Tiana] North said. “There’s ride shares, there’s house shares, bike shares — we’re in a sharing generation now.” ...

Read the whole long article (online August 3, 2019). It also includes (how could it not?) a lot about Hacienda, the "intentional sex-positive community in Bushwick," which now has four locations.

The article doesn't seem to be in today's print issue, but I bet it's planned for tomorrow's Sunday edition.

Update Sunday Aug. 4: Yup, there it is on page 4 of the Style section.


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Blogger Alan said...

To scotch any rumor before it starts, my suggestion that the Style editors may have heeded the criticisms about "Is an Open Marriage a Happy Marriage?" in the Times Magazine two years ago -- that was just my conjecture. For all I know the staff of the Style section and the Sunday Magazine may not even talk to each other, or remember.

August 04, 2019 1:19 PM  

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