Friday Polynews Roundup — Triad storyline on "The Connors," Black Poly Nation gets TV rep, loving polyfamily profiles, community dreams, and evangelical worry that this all hits too close to home
Welcome again to Friday Polynews Roundup, for February 28, 2020.
● We begin with something a bit different. The attractiveness of polyamory for good, decent people has become deeply concerning to Albert Mohler, the very public president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest training institutions for America's largest Protestant denomination. In 2003 Time called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S." When he talks great numbers listen, and many of them are serious and intelligent people.
This morning he put up a long article expressing concern that polyamory is turning into such a thing that some leading evangelicals seem to be wavering about its wrongness: Polyamory in Evangelical Headlines? A Signal We Can’t Miss and a Challenge We Can’t Avoid (Feb. 28).
The headlines in question arise from that article last October in Christianity Today, America's flagship evangelical magazine, by two pastors coping with the "un-biblical" but sincere polyamorous relationships that some of their parishioners live in and come to them seeking advice about.
Mohler and the two earlier pastors agree that this is against doctrine and wrong. But how to deal with it without driving church members out of the church altogether? Mohler writes:
Christianity Today, often identified as the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, ran an article a few weeks ago with the title, “Polyamory: Pastors' Next Sexual Frontier.” Now, as we seek in worldview analysis to understand cultural and moral change, we need to recognize that sometimes that change is signaled by how and when and where an argument appears. In this case, we're talking about Christianity Today.
...The article begins by telling us about a couple, Tyler and Amanda. They're married to each other, and yet, there enters into their relationship another man, and Amanda develops a romantic relationship with this second man. They began, "Exploring polyamory."
Then, the article tells us, "Making the situation even more complex, Tyler and Amanda sought counseling from a Christian counselor who advocated polyamory."...
The authors write, "How can pastors and leaders prepare to address questions related to polyamory? Several pastors tell us it's becoming more common for people who identify as poly to ask about their church's view on the matter. Will they be accepted and affirmed?” They go on to write, "The discussion is still young enough that most pastors have some time to construct a robust, compassionate, thoughtful response to the question, 'Is your church inclusive of people who are poly?' " Now, this is a very strange approach for an article to take that will be published in Christianity Today, but it gets stranger when the authors write, "Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God's will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us." [All emphases are mine –Ed.]
"When we want to lovingly call people to repentance," they write, "We should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example," they continue, "The notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism, but actually isolate individuals, polyamory's focus on relationship, care, and affection could have a powerful pull." They continue, "And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory's focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative." This paragraph concludes, "We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory, deep relationships, care for others, hospitality and community are good things."
...Perhaps the biggest issue at stake in the appearance of this article is the fact that it appeared.... I am perhaps most haunted by the question that is asked early in the article when speaking of those who are involved in polyamory and asking about the church, and whether or not in the church, "Will they be accepted and affirmed?" Buying into that kind of formula is extremely dangerous for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. ...
I do agree with the point made in this article that polyamory or polygamy represents the new front that all pastors and churches are going to have to deal with. We're going to be confronted every single congregation one way or another by this challenge. ... The fact that this article appeared as it did, where it did, in the pages of Christianity Today is a signal to us. ... We are looking here at a signal we can't miss and a challenge we can't avoid.
Meanwhile, a variety of Christians are not a bit hesitant to proudly proclaim that love is love and, within good ethics, the more the better. See my big roundup of such material last October, Poly & Christian — a huge and diverse field.
Meanwhile out in the secular world, events continue apace.
● Today (February 28) is Metamour Day, and I'm kinda proud of what I wrote about it and stuff that you did.
● Remember the therapist Dr. Karen Ruskin, the loud TV and radio denouncer of polyamory and open relationships? As I posted Wednesday, she finally admitted she was wrong:
Consensual non-monogamy is healthy and advantageous for some. Yes, this is a fact, based on client and non-client report. ... I heard other stories. Stories of great love and success opening up one’s heart, mind and body to additional people. Stories of personal and relational growth, discovery and connection. For many couples, Polyamory, Open marriages and Swinging is value add and opens up dialogues with one’s spouse/primary mate that would otherwise never have been discussed. ...
● Ever more triad-family profiles keep appearing in the British tabloids. Here's just one, in the Daily Mail: Childhood sweethearts who invited a single mother to join their marriage insist being a 'throuple' makes them BETTER parents because there's an extra person to give their children attention (Feb. 26).
It comes with lots of pix and this extraordinarily fine, nearly 8-minute video doc of the family, including a visit by the kids' skeptical grandmothers who are won over:
By Jessica Green for Mailonline
...High school sweethearts Leo Barillas, 35, and Mary Barillas, 31, met estimator Kimberlee Slagle, 29, all of Washington State, at their CrossFit gym business in 2015 and became fast friends.
As they spent more time together, their friendship blossomed into a romantic attraction and they formed a thruple in September 2016.
Kimberlee and her two children, Keagen, 11, and Kymper, seven, joined the Barillas' and their two children Carson, nine, and Paige, four, at their home in June 2017, and they've been living under the same roof ever since.
They believe their triad relationship has benefited their youngsters and plan to expand their family, with Kimberlee and Mary hoping to fall pregnant at the same time.
Mother-of-two Kim explained: 'Having an extra body is so useful for parenting, it just means you're splitting the work between three rather than two.'
...'We weren't actively seeking a third,' explained Leo. 'Kim came into the picture as an athlete at the gym, we trained her and got to know her.
'We became friendly and would have her over socially, then that progressed into a sexual thing. It was actually Kim who said "I don't know if I can come and hang out at the weekend because I'm growing feelings for you both of you"'.
Kim added: 'I understood that they were a married couple but I could feel my feelings changing and so I started to pull away. It was incredibly hard for me to tell them how I felt – it was a scary moment for me.'...
...Thankfully, family members have been accepting of their arrangement and even the kids enjoy having another parent around.
Keagan, 11, admitted: 'I like it better having three parents because you have more people to talk to.'
...They share their family life on Instagram under the handle, @pnwtriad16, and want to inspire others to be honest with who they are - even if that differs to what's considered 'normal' by society.
● Oh alright, here's another one, also from the Daily Mail (one day later), also with beautiful pix and video: Mother who is in a polyamorous triad reveals she is raising her baby to be GENDERLESS, as she shares how she is co-parenting the nine-month-old child with both of her live-in lovers (Feb. 27). This group lives in Austin, Texas.
A mother who is in a relationship with both a man and another woman has revealed how she is raising her baby to be genderless - while sharing co-parenting duties with both of her live-in partners.
Brittany Taylor, 32, from Rhode Island, has been in an open relationship with her nine-month-old baby's father Conor McMillen, 36, from California, for more than four years, after meeting him at a health festival in New York.
However, in 2018, she met and became romantically involved with Bridgette Wolleat, 30, who soon after moved in with Brittany and Conor in their home in Austin, Texas, where she continues to enjoy a relationship with Brittany while helping to raise the couple's child Ilya.
Brittany and Conor firmly believe that their fluid, sex-positive relationship - with each other and with their external partners - will have a positive influence on their child, Ilya. In fact, they credit their way of life with providing Ilya with important lessons about love, unconditional support, and the importance of being yourself.
Brittany, Conor, and Bridgette with baby Ilya.
The couple have also decided not to gender Ilya and use non-binary pronouns.
...Despite oftentimes having separate intimate partners, Brittany and Conor attribute their openness and honesty with strengthening the bond they share with each other.
The couple regularly share videos with their 55,000 YouTube subscribers talking about their unique family dynamic. Brittany and Conor have received a positive response to this and hope to continue to promote and normalize fluid, healthy relationships.
'We share co-parenting with Ilya. We split it really evenly,' Brittany said.
...'The relationships we have with each other are so important because they set the vibe that Ilya is in. We're all really intentional about how we show up and the basis of that is so much love and encouragement for everybody to be supportive of each other.
...'It's really common for us to say polyamorous. We've used the word triad before. We've used metamours, but we like the term relationship anarchy. It means there are no words to describe what we're doing.
'We've had such a positive response, which makes sense because of the way we're going about it. So many people reach out to us and say, "I do things totally different, but I love what you're sharing, and I see so much value in it."
'Parents reach out to us and say, "I'd love to have more tribe, more family, more community around me."
'I think that's an innate truth that we used to do this more in tribes. I think it's a lot for people to take on, and it's a lot to do with stress and endurance. So many people can appreciate the vision of being in a community which can help and support them and their children.
'Things like competition and jealousy fall away when you're in this space of thinking we're all doing this together. We really love that undertone of unity and encouragement of the individual in the collective. ...
● On Houston's FOX 26 TV, "The Isiah Factor Uncensored," hosted by Isiah Carey, advertises that it "takes a no-holds-barred look at issues facing Houston's black community." On Thursday Feb. 27 he did a 10-minute interview with a polyfamily of five.
It all began when Shalaun Porter, Alex's wife (at center in the photo below), saw a positive TV show perhaps rather like this one and broached the idea to him. But says Shantell (to the right of Alex) "It was not the best start"; she and Alex cheated outside the marriage. However, Shalaun got past her hurt about it and decided, "I was willing to open up my home and meet her."
It worked, and Shalaun and their two kids (who come on halfway through; they're at left in the picture) consider Shantell an effective other mother. Says Shantell, "They took me in as their own, and I took them in as my own." Although the kids sometimes have trouble getting the situation across to their disbelieving friends.
The parents have faced public hostility but find great community support in the Houston branch of Black Poly Nation (@Black_Poly_Nation), and Alex gets a plug in for its three-day festival coming up in Houston in May. The family's own Facebook page is Portah Family, where we learn that they have represented in the local media before.
● A poly storyline drops into another broadcast comedy series, in the February 25th episode of ABC's "The Connors" (successor to "Roseanne"). From a plot summary: "Jackie hits it off with a fun married couple (guest stars and real-life husband and wife Clark Gregg and Jennifer Grey), so much so that they "invite" her into their relationship." (Season 2, Episode 14, "Bad Dad and Grads.") Did anybody watch?
Nor do the show writers seem about to let this drop. The next episode, #15, to air on March 17, is reportedly titled "Beards, Thrupples and Robots."
● At the University of Western Ontario, in the annual Sex Issue of the student Western Gazette, Poly and proud at Western (Feb. 25):
By Emily Tayler, News Editor
...The second-year studio arts major said her fears were common to people first opening themselves to more than one partner.
“One of my fears going into it … was that I’m not going to be the person. That’s something that’s pushed in our culture all the time, ‘the one,’” she says. “The idea that there could be more than one person being ‘the one’ is really scary, because then you think 'I’m not as valuable,' when that’s not true.”
...While monogamous couples find fulfillment in one person, polyamory can bring together any number of people.
While seeing a partner be romantic with another person can spur jealousy for monogamous people, polyamory is rooted in the idea of “compersion” — experiencing joy because somebody else is feeling joy.
“A good example [of compersion] is if your partner is having an intimate moment or a date night or whatever with another partner,” Rayne explains. “I’m really happy because my partner is having a good time and they’re enjoying that, so that makes me feel good.”
...Rayne explains there is still a lot of love between her and Bobby. They’re “metas” to each other: both romantically connected to the same person, but not connected on their own.
The throuple, a three-person couple, lives together with one large bed between them. But each plays a distinct role in the relationship.
...Adam never expected to be poly, but he was already intimately acquainted with the subject through his dad’s polyamorous relationship later in life. His father’s spouse was experiencing medical issues and the couple was having trouble with tasks like keeping the house clean and enjoying each other’s company. A childhood friend of his wife joined their relationship, and Adam says they’ve been incredibly happy ever since. ... “It’s like a relationship that’s a community.” ...
● At first glance I thought this one was satire — of a future when poly is standard and monogamists are the minority weirdos. But no, it's a gay guy telling about his real life in Metro UK, a free paper for bus and train commuters. I’m polyamorous but I’m in a monogamous relationship – and it works (Feb. 24)
By Luis Bracamontes
Deep down I’ve known it for years, but it took me a lot of courage and work on myself to finally admit it....
...But there’s a catch with my current situation: I have a boyfriend – and he’s a hundred per cent monogamous, and so is our relationship.
Luis Bracamontes photo
...After a lot of healthy and not-so-healthy talks where we would listen to each other’s needs and wants, we both agreed to be exclusive. Does it come naturally to me? Maybe not. Was I forced to make this decision? Not at all. Am I just waiting for him to change his mind? Definitely not.
...It’s definitely not fair for me to impose a lifestyle and vision that my partner doesn’t feel comfortable with. Relationships are about consent, mutual understanding and compromise.
...I don’t have to be having sex with other people to express my polyamory. For example, we openly talk about how we feel attracted to other people and we enjoy sharing photos of cute people with each other.
...The truth is: there is no perfect formula for alternatives to monogamy. It’s really a lot of trial and error and mostly having really, really good communication...
● Also in Metro UK, four days later: How to tell your partner that you want to be in a polyamorous relationship (Feb. 28):
By Almara Abgarian
...If you’ve been playing with the idea of a polyamorous relationship, tread with caution when bringing this up to your other half [sic]. To help you start what could become an awkward conversation (but hopefully one with a happy ending), here’s a handy guide on what to say, when to say it and what to do if your partner reacts negatively to the idea.
First, be absolutely sure that you want to do this. Polyamory works for a lot of people, but mentioning your desires about this to your partner could change the dynamic of your relationship, so don’t blurt it out after a few drinks in the pub or use it as an excuse to enjoy threesomes (that’s a completely different conversation).
And take some time to think about why you want a polyamorous relationship – and if you want emotional connections with other people, as well as physical (or purely want to sleep with other people, which isn’t the same thing).
‘Start this conversation at a good time when both you and partner are feeling OK,’ [Dr Martina Paglia] tells us. ‘Don’t start this conversation while having an argument, or when you or your partner are feeling nervous, worried, sad or frustrated over something, otherwise the situation may escalate and get out of control....
But… where to start?
‘Sweetheart (or use a pet name), I have something to tell you,’ is how Duchess Iphie, a relationship, sex and intimacy coach recommends that you start the conversation. ‘I love you very much but I have been exploring the idea of us being in an open relationship. This is not because you are not enough, but I want to explore my desires outside the confines of monogamous relationship. I know this may have come as a shock to you but can you tell me what you think?’
To me that sounds way too fraught and pressury. How about, sitting at the computer, "Hey, lookit this thing on the news. A bunch of people are all having relationships with each other and the couple is happy about it. What do you think about how that would work?" Keep it about something distant you observe together, and you'll get the unforced response that you need to hear. And if it's not to be, you can drop it with no harm done.
● In a similar vein, a morning TV show on Australia's 7News presents Open relationships: The pros and cons, and how to discuss it with your partner (Feb. 20). With 7 minutes of video and a text summary.
That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now! See you next Friday, unless something big happens sooner.
PSA: Upcoming polycons! Four polyamory conventions are scheduled for April: Southwest Love Fest in Tucson, April 3-5; the traveling SoloPoly Conference, this time at a workspace in Manhattan, April 18-19; Rocky Mountain Poly Living in Denver, April 24-26; and RelateCon Boise in Idaho, also April 24-26.
If you've read this far and you're not yet going to any of the big, high-quality polyamory movement events, you should! See Alan's List of Polyamory Events for all 35 happenings on the calendar for the next 12 months.