Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

June 26, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – A mono goes poly for lockdown, a poly person goes mono, and good stuff for safe poly bubbling

Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for June 26, 2020. Not a very busy week this time. Here you go.

●  Metro UK is Great Britain's largest-circulation newspaper, with 1.3 million print copies distributed daily on public transit and elsewhere. It has become rather obsessed with polyamory stories in the last few years, no doubt responding to reader attention.

On Wednesday it presented a tale of three gay guys who formed a poly household under quarantine pressure: I went into lockdown with my new boyfriends and we’re thriving (June 24)

By Thom James Carter

My friend Astrid called.... She asked, ‘Have you met someone yet?’ When I replied no, it was both truthful and a white lie. I hadn’t just met one man, but two – and all three of us are now happily living the polyamorous life together in lockdown.

...In winter last year, I met Adam through a gay app. ...  We realised we got on like a house on fire. That’s when Adam introduced me to Steve, his boyfriend and suggested that if we got on well too, they could transition from an open relationship to a three-person relationship that included me.

None of us had ever tried polyamory before, but with open minds, we wanted to explore if it could work. It did: I’d go over to their place on the weekends, and they’d come to mine in the middle of the week. We even went to Lisbon for a long weekend after Christmas. And it all felt easier and far more natural than any of us had anticipated.

Four months later, countries began going into lockdown and it looked like the UK would follow suit. Despite being fiercely independent (read: I lived by myself) and an introvert who needs as much time alone as with others, I discussed staying with Adam and Steve – who already lived together – for its duration. Although I was initially worried I’d be a nightmare to live with, as I’d gotten used to being on my own, what caused more distress was the possibility of not seeing Adam and Steve....

Ella Byworth/ MetroUK
So I grabbed my essential items, locked the door behind me, and went.

...What’s surprised me most, as somebody who had previously only practiced monogamy, is the utter absence of jealousy. Open displays of affection between Adam and I, or Adam and Steve (and so on), aren’t met with a withering glance from the other person as if to say: ‘Why aren’t I involved?’ Acts of displaying love are encouraged — as they should be. (And, yes, the same sentiment applies to sex: It happens as-and-when, with any one of us, and without a scoreboard being kept.)

...Polyamory has its positives when it comes to the more mundane parts of life, like household chores. In my previous monogamous relationships, there was always a tit-for-tat game of ‘I cleaned the bathroom so it’s your turn to do the kitchen!’ What makes it much simpler as a throuple, I guess, is that our domestic activities don’t rely on two people equally pulling their weight, but rather three.

...It’s been like a Big Brother-esque experiment to see if three gay men’s relationship could thrive during a pandemic. And it has. The occurrence of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has provided many of us with the chance to re-evaluate our lives and reflect. ... Now we know we live well together, there’s the strong possibility that living under one roof will continue long after the pandemic.

●   From the opposite side of the world, on the MTV Australia site, a genderqueer poly person tells an opposite story: How Coronogamy (Coronavirus-Induced Monogamy) Has Changed My Sex Life (June 24)

I’ve been polyamorous for nearly 20 years. Non-monogamy is all I’ve known, and normally I don’t like to define things in a hierarchy, with a primary partner and secondary partners. To me, part of the point of having open relationships is that you leave the paddock unfenced. Things go how they go.

But I live with my girlfriend and no one else, so once the lockdown started in Victoria, we found ourselves in social isolation together. At first, I found it confronting to be thrust into what felt like forced monogamy. 'Coronogamy,' I called it – coronavirus-induced monogamy.

...This felt different and inorganic. Though ultimately, we decided ourselves that we wouldn’t see other people for a bit, I resented feeling like the state had steered me into precisely the kind of relationship hierarchy I’d spent so long trying to avoid.

There’s a lot of advice out there for people who are ‘opening up’ their relationship – not so much, it seems, for what to do if you’re ‘closing down’.

...As a queer person of colour who relies on a lot of different people for care and support, I winced at how government responses reinforced the nuclear family as the primary organising unit of society. It made me think of that poster by Deborah Kelly and Tina Fiveash that shows a white family eating sandwiches: ‘Hey hetero, when they say family, they mean you!’ Very quickly, we saw how lockdown laws targeted communities that are already overpoliced while wealthy neighbourhoods received few fines. ...

...While time was disintegrating, space was also warped. Everywhere outside my flat seemed more or less equidistant, so I took that as a sign that I should put more effort into my neglected transnational friendships. ... As a genderfluid person, I relished how cybersex let me build my body in words, and I discovered that the lockdown could be weaponised in all sorts of fun and kinky scenarios. It’s a good time for anyone who gets off on withholding.

But quarantine can also trigger its own special brand of dissociation and dysphoria. When everything is unreal and endlessly deferred, it’s all too easy to ghost on yourself. Some days I seem to just disappear. ...

●  Buried down in my long post last week was an aside linking to resources for building a responsible poly bubble. Especially if you might share or advise about that to a group. From Steve Ks in Vancouver,

Nienke E. van Houten, a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology, is a scientist who has studied vaccine design. She's new to poly, but coincidently had organized an info session for the Vanpoly group about polyamory and COVID-19, with behavioral epidemiologist Dr. Kiffer Card, called "Building a Bubble While Poly". Here is the publicly available information from that seminar that may be useful to others in the polyamorous community.

●  Distant early movie announcement, from Variety: Colomo’s Comedy ‘Polyamory for Beginners (June 23) 

 Latido Films, Amazon Prime Video, and Vértice Cine have boarded Spanish filmmaker Fernando Colomo’s comedy project “Poliamor para principiantes” (“Polyamory for Beginners, or a Swindlers’ Hot Dream”). ...The film will begin shooting in early October. ...Amazon Prime Video has acquired Spanish TV rights.... 

...“Colomo has a very intelligent take on the transformations of Spanish society and knows how to sharpen its contradictions,” said Latido Films CEO Antonio Saura.

...[Producer Álvaro] Longoria added: “Polyamory is a reality that affects societies around the world, but in this case it’s told from Spain, a country full of taboos and once highly religious.” ... 

That's Polynews Roundup for now. See you next week. Be safe, dear friends.

Labels: ,

June 19, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: Black & poly realities, backstory of excellent coverage, Supreme Court, unicorning that worked for everyone, and more

Welcome to Friday Polyamory News Roundup for June 19, 2020.

Happy Juneteenth. Moose is out this morning for a commemoration in the Black quarter of our town's colonial-era burying ground, which holds the mostly unmarked graves of both the free and the enslaved who lived, or were held, in our nice, picturesque New England village. This afternoon we continue the daily Black Lives Matter vigil on the road in front of the Town Common, to be followed by another event at the burying ground.

Our Massachusetts town was founded in 1730 with the construction of what's now our Unitarian Universalist church on the Common; back then it was Puritan. A couple years ago the town historian discovered that the founding minister owned an enslaved woman named Nanne. Say her name. Because no record of her exists ― no last name, whether she was a child, middle aged, or elderly, nothing ― except for a line in the minister's will. He left her to a relative along with other property. At least she has a plaque now in the sanctuary. We don't even know if she's buried in the Black quarter; records of who is there barely exist.

Jumping across almost 300 years of American history to this week's polyamory in the media, we have...

●  A thoughtful and revealing perspective in Dismantle magazine, "an online magazine that frames fashion and popular culture as tools for creative identity exploration, activism and social change": “Poly Wanna What?” A Black Man’s Journey into Love, Polyamory & Kink (June 15).

By Ricardo Coleman

I distinctly remember the first time that I encountered the word “polyamory.” Like millions of other hopeless romantics, I was swiping away on Tinder one night in the summer of 2018 and looking for my next great love. I kept seeing this word strategically placed in bios ― usually paired or associated with “ethical non-monogamy.” I dismissed the concept out of hand. ...  

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Certainly, I have seen people who use it as an exercise in self-indulgence, but in a way that is similar to what I have observed among those who identify as monogamous. But also I have found that there are polyamorous folks currently in, or actively pursuing, ethical, loving and committed relationships.

Importantly, though, polyamorous culture is not the utopic space that some claim it to be. It is not outside of the world of mental health struggles, racism, and class and gender dynamics that pervade many people’s romantic pursuits. However, it does offer valuable ways of thinking about love and intimacy that need to be explored and critiqued so that the good stuff doesn’t get lost.  

Despite my mind-opening introduction to polyamory, I continued to hold on to my misconceptions about this type of relationship until I met her — I’ll call her Lucia. She was gorgeous and blonde, with big green eyes that could make you do anything she wanted. You could tell that they were full of kindness, and a fiery spirit, but I could also tell that there was a deep well of pain. ...

Illustration by the author

... I have never believed that I was jealous or possessive of my partners, but then again, I had never been in a relationship structure that challenged me in such ways. The spectre of her desire to take on another partner grimly hung over me. ... Plus, some other real differences existed between us. 

Our relationship was “interracial” ... for many it is still an uncomfortable pairing. I could hang out with her and her friends, but eventually, things were done and discussed in that space to which I just couldn’t relate. I began to feel left out. They seemed to speak about and enjoy a world that I could never know. She may have felt the same way about my world, although she never mentioned it. 

Importantly, despite her stated rejection of a racist upbringing, sometimes she said things that made me feel uncomfortable. She meant well, but it felt as if I was being fetishized by the woman I loved. If it had been anyone else, I would have checked them — and hard. ... 

I would come to find that in the polyamory, kink, and BDSM communities, these kinds of microaggressions happen more than most would like to admit. I desperately wanted to hold onto my black humanity in the face of these daily exclusions — but also hold onto my sexual identity and community. However, we live in a world where black pride and dignity are often viewed as highly problematic and dangerous....

So I struggled with the question of how I could reconcile my black identity and still function within a paradigm that positions itself as more enlightened than monogamy, yet is also limited by the same racial, cultural, and social prejudices and biases. While I’m open to dating outside my race and culture, I observed that many of the same people who proudly describe themselves as anti-racist liberal allies aren’t as open. I quickly observed that they don’t know or associate with many black folks outside of totally paternalistic relationships. ... To those who self-assuredly hide behind the mask of liberal enlightenment, yet maintain contentment with their whiteness, this “knowing” is just the toleration of a native nuisance that they have to deal with, same as the mosquitoes and potholes. ...

...I’ve never quite figured it out — maybe it is a “superpower’’ resulting from living and surviving in a systemically racist society — but black folks seem to have a strong intuition that tells us when non-POC are uncomfortable around us. Sometimes the signs are subtle, and they are sometimes nakedly present. When it kicks in, it causes a distinct uneasiness and can make many emotions arise. An environment where people are in wildly varying stages of undress can become a very precarious place. ...

As I have said before, for good odds of success with polyamory you need community. Coleman doesn't mention the POC poly support communities that have been built in the last several years, such as Black & Poly, now with chapters in many cities, and Black Poly Nation, whose Facebook membership is growing by more than 2,000 people a month. Or the POC-centered conventions PolyDallas Millennium in Texas and Black Poly Pride in Washington, DC (both cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19). Other suggestions? Please put them in the comments here or email me at alan7388 at gmail, and I'll add them.  Update:  Steve Ks suggests, Toronto Non-Monogamous BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour). "That group has over 500 members, has lots of activity, and its founder, Millie Boella, attended one of our Vanpoly meets recently. She's awesome."

Whoever and wherever you are, you need to find poly community. Good community, that is.

●  Big news this week was the Supreme Court's surprise ruling that employment discrimination against LGBTQ people is illegal. Wow! Poly people wondered: Could we be next?

No, LGBTQ attorney Jonathan Lane tells us: The LGBTQ employment discrimination cases and the polyamory community (June 15). Key parts:

...​​There are currently in the United States no laws anywhere which ban discrimination based on polyamorous relationship structure or orientation. ... So where do today's Supreme Court's rulings in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and its companion cases leave the polyamory rights movement? About the same place it was yesterday.

The Court's decisions rely entirely on the Civil Rights Act of 1964's prohibition of employment discrimination "on the basis of sex." Sex here means male or female. The extension of this law's protections to the LGBTQ community were not intended when the law was drafted, but the logic is clear and compelling enough to win over two of the Court's five social conservatives: When you fire a man because he has or desires sexual relationships with a man, but you wouldn't fire a woman for doing the same, you discriminate based on sex. When you fire someone assigned male at birth for identifying and dressing as female, but you would not do the same for someone assigned female at birth, you discriminate based on sex.

Polyamory provides no comparable rationale to hook onto the existing protections of any of the classes of people protected by the Civil Rights Act. ...

Maybe someday a more liberal Supreme Court will extend discrimination protections on the basis of constitutional cases like Lawrence v. Texas, which established a right to sexual privacy. But in the foreseeable future, the emerging polyamory rights movement will need to continue its initial steps on the path taken by the LGBTQ community up until today, gradually convincing city governments to ban employment discrimination, and eventually working up to state legislatures.


●  The backstory to that excellent media we got. A few days ago I posted about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's long and remarkably well-informed article, "Polyamory during a pandemic? It's complicated".

Turns out it didn't get that good by chance. When people in the Vanpoly group in Vancouver, BC, found out that the story was in the works, they turned seriously proactive. Steve Ks write to us,

Carole Chanteuse and I monitor the info@vanpoly.ca email address on behalf of Vanpoly. ... We felt that the reporter's initial request (on May 21) was respectful and well-meaning, but was couched in the usual misconception that poly is all about couples opening up or seeking a third. If floated in our group as is, we felt the request could receive a predictable backlash from people tired of that constant media misconception, especially from those who considered themselves solo-poly or relationship anarchists.

Carole diplomatically corrected the reporter, who was then happy to adjust their pitch.

In the past we've maintained a list of members who we knew were well spoken that we could refer to media on short notice. That list was getting out of date, so our group's admin team agreed to put a call out to people we thought could represent us well for those willing to be interviewed, and we would present a list of people the reporter could choose from. To make that easier for the reporter, and to ensure that a diversity of styles could be represented, we would confirm each and ask a few questions first.

The call was an edited version of the reporter's pitch, along with Carole's response. That resulted in a healthy discussion and a number of people who considered themselves solo or diverse stepping forward saying "we need to be represented". I contacted each who stepped forward or was suggested.

One of the people recommended was Nienke E. van Houten -- a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology and a senior lecturer at Simon Fraser University (near Vancouver). She's a scientist who has studied vaccine design. She's new to poly, but coincidently had organized an info session for the Vanpoly group about polyamory and COVID-19, with behavioral epidemiologist Dr. Kiffer Card, called "Building a Bubble While Poly".

In presenting our list to the reporter, I hoped they would pick up that we in the polyamory community treat safety very seriously in all aspects of our lives -- and as part of that we're doing a seminar on keeping ourselves safer during the pandemic.

I was happy to see that the reporter did pick up on the seminar. Here is the publically available information from that seminar that may be useful to others in the polyamorous community.

Pay attention. They showed how it's done.

●  From a large business publication in South Africa: What is shaping culture? Polyamory: Multiple + Love (June 1)

"The Triad Family is a Christian polycule from Baltimore, USA on Instagram as @thetriadfam"

By Brett Rogers

It’s not that long ago that people were absolutely petrified of exposing their ‘abnormal relationships’ to the real world. People could be, and were, ostracised from family, friends and places of work. Under no circumstances are we saying that that is no longer the case, but there is a sea change happening where people with alternative relationships are emerging from the shadows of social judgment and criticism.

...What can the mainstream learn from polyamory?

Communication: Polycules are committed to regular, honest and frank discussions about how they feel and the state of their relationships.

Rules: These are vital to establish the parameters of the relationship, what are we ok with, and what are we not ok with? This is not about ruling a relationship with an iron fist, but is about complete freedom within those parameters.

Honesty: This one is hard but brings clarity.

Consent: Permission is always sought out between the people involved. There is no middle ground, it’s either yes or no. Something that we as South Africans have a major problem with. ...

Brett Rogers is culture lead at Cape Town advertising agency HaveYouHeard and content curator for In_, which showcases cultural forces that are changing the world.

●  Season 2 of The Politician premiers today on Netflix, with its supposed-to-be-edgy plot of young upstart Payton trying to unseat an entrenched woman state senator who, his campaign has discovered, is secretly in a poly relationship with two men (see Friday Polynews Roundup for May 22).

But after this disparaging review today in Hollywood Reporter, I don't think I'll bother. 'The Politician' Season 2: TV Review (June 19).

By Daniel Fienberg

...The problem is that Payton is annoying and fairly awful and the show has never found any way to illustrate why his peers have dedicated themselves to him.... Though I guess it's easy to understand why his election team includes nobody he didn't go to high school with.... 

The Politician doesn't really exist in our current political reality at all.... The real world is coming apart at the seams and The Politician dedicates an astonishing amount of its limited time to debating the rules and strategy of rock-paper-scissors. And here's the thing: That subplot is the best part of the season. That's how edgy The Politician has become.

...The show's bizarre pride in saying "throuple" over and over again, as if they'd tapped into the latest in outré sexuality, is straight-up sad....

Here's the 3-minute trailer:

Update: Best of all worlds! Refinery29 is posting detailed recaps. Read the drama quick, no hours of watching. I admit I started and got hooked.

●  On a recovery site called The Temper, "life through the lens of sobriety, addiction, and recovery": I’m a Better Polyamorous Partner Now That I’m Sober (June 17).

Growing up, I was shown that love is synonymous with giving yourself away to others, for if I didn’t put other people first, I’d somehow be unworthy of them. Through monogamy and then polyamory, I didn’t know the most important lesson in healthy relationships was that I had to actively, radically, and intentionally, love myself first on my way to understanding what nurturing and soul-filling relationships with others could be.

Polyamory, like any relationship, requires conflict resolution and communication. We blossom when we assume positive intent on behalf of the person with whom we’re in a relationship. We grow when we seek to understand and listen. ...

When I quit drinking I decided to build a life I wouldn’t want to escape from. ...

●  And finally, our happy polyfamily tabloid story the week: Wife opens up after inviting another woman into marriage (June 18). This isn't in an actual printed British tab yet; it first appeared just now in Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.

Moral of this story: Don't go judging that unicorn hunting never works out.

A woman has opened up about how she revealed to her husband she is bisexual before inviting another woman into their marriage.

Media Drum World/Australscope

High school sweethearts Cierra Applegate and David fell in love in 2012. 

“He was the first and only man I've ever been interested in, let alone in love with. We got married at the age of twenty-one,” Cierra said.

“When I was twenty-three, I came out to him and some other people close to us [as bi], and we decided to change our lifestyle.

...“In May 2019, I met our lovely girlfriend Mariah on a dating app and was upfront about our situation, and she was interested and so we set up the first date. And now it's been almost a year of bliss with my two favourite people,” Cierra, 24, said.

“David and I are husband and wife. We are both dating Mariah and there is both a physical and emotional relationship between all parties.

“Including Mariah in our lives has brought new perspectives, new hobbies and life experiences that would’ve been unexplored had another personality not been present and the tearing down walls of jealousy and distrust in your partner,” she said.

“We’ve learnt to love ourselves and one another differently and with a new appreciation. We’ve also learnt better ways to communicate with one another after learning how another person operates and how they feel most loved rather than the person we’ve always been with and known.

“To us, it means that we can share our love with not only one another, but another person. We feel like our marriage is so full of love and feeling free to express ourselves, that this isn’t something that negates from our relationship, but rather builds it and creates new forms of trust and respect.”

Whilst they couldn’t be happier in their polyamorous relationship, after a few months of dating as a threesome, they began to encounter jealousy between Cierra and Mariah, 21, which caused them to split up mid-September 2019 for over two months before they reconciled again at the beginning of December 2019 and have been smitten ever since.

“We worked through the negative feelings I was having and the toxic jealousy and focussed instead on how happy I am to see two people I care immensely about having a wonderful time with one another and being there for me.”

“...I get two people that console me after a bad day; I get to look forward to two texts every morning. I get to cry on two shoulders. ... At the end of the day, we know that not everyone will accept us, but life is too short to not live it to the fullest,” she said.

“When any tinge of jealousy arises, we communicate to one another immediately. We try to check in with one another once a week to make sure no one feels left out or suffocated.

“We also understand that because Mariah is not living with us and that we are married, there is an understanding that when she feels lonely or jealous, she can always reach out, video chat or even stop by.

“We are working very hard on being individuals first so that way what we bring to the table is the best version of who we are and that we can bring all our different perspectives and experiences together for one amazing relationship.”

That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now.  See you next time!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

June 14, 2020

CBC: "Polyamory during a pandemic? It's complicated"

This article on the website of the CBC, Canada's public radio and TV network, is good enough that I think it deserves a post of its own. It's thoughtful, intelligent, captures a lot of us accurately, and isn't fouled by clickbaity SEO headlines and stuff. It's out this morning from Vancouver, one of the cities making up the Pacific Northwest's great cross-border poly zone.

Polyamory during a pandemic? It's complicated

With social circles tightened, people with multiple partners are forced to make difficult decisions

Daria Valujeva, seen in Vancouver on June 4, is only seeing one of her two partners while B.C. starts easing COVID-19 restrictions. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

By Alex Migdal, CBC News

In mid-May, Paula Hughes was ready to bring her boyfriend into her social bubble. Two months of texting and taking walks two metres apart due to COVID-19 restrictions, she said, had "really, really sucked."

But first, the 40-year-old bookkeeper had to discuss her plans with her long-term partner, his spouse and the spouse's partner — who happens to be Hughes's soon-to-be ex-husband. The four of them are polyamorous and share a six-bedroom home in Surrey, B.C. 

"I really needed a consensus," Hughes said.

The group acknowledged that allowing her boyfriend into their bubble posed a risk of infection. But given that he lived alone, they deemed any danger fairly small and acceptable. 

"If any one person had been uncomfortable with it, or said, 'No, I don't like that idea,' it probably would have been the end of it," Hughes said. "It's about everyone."

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated many relationships, with physical distancing and social bubbles redefining intimacy, romance and sex. B.C.'s provincial health officer has recommended people stick to one partner and avoid rapid, serial dating to limit the spread of the virus.

That guidance has forced uncomfortable and sometimes wrenching decisions on those in the "poly" community, many of whom consider multiple partners not just a lifestyle but a fundamental part of their identity.

Relationship strain

"It kind of reminds me of elementary school —  if someone ever told you that you had to pick your top four friends ... how difficult that is for the social situation," said Cora Bilsker, a Victoria-based counsellor who specializes in polyamory. 

"People are having to make really hard decisions that don't necessarily represent where they're at emotionally."

...Polyamory plays out in many ways. A couple may choose to pair up with another couple and form a quad. One person may partner with two people who aren't attached, known as a vee; a triad means all three people are intimately connected.

Some of these arrangements are hierarchical — meaning a person may have primary, secondary or tertiary partners — while others operate equally. ...


Nienke van Houten, a 45-year-old higher-education instructor who is polyamorous, said she has found the public health guidance unclear and largely focused on traditional households.

"This has left a big gap for people who don't have typical nuclear families," van Houten said, "or [those] who do have typical nuclear families and have polyamorous relationships." 

To clear up some of the confusion, a polyamory support group known as Vanpoly held a session in late May about forming "risk-reduced, ethical social bubbles."

"Lots of things still remain somewhat of a mystery," said Dr. Kiffer Card, a behavioural epidemiologist at the University of Victoria, who led the online session.

The best advice from the province so far, Card said, is found in its guidelines for sex workers. It encourages workers to consider erotic massages and stripteases, minimize kissing and saliva exchange and opt for sexual positions that minimize face-to-fact contact. 

"These sorts of practical things … need to be tailored in a way that's accessible to people broadly in the community," Card said, pointing to similar guidelines from New York City's public health department. ...

One idea raised in the poly community is "resetting" social bubbles. For example, someone has two partners they want to see but those partners live in separate households and neither want to be connected. That person could interact with the first partner, wait two weeks and monitor for symptoms, then interact with the second partner. ...

Bilsker, the counsellor, said polyamory requires lots of frank discussion around safe sex, which is why some polyamorous people are better equipped than monogamists to navigate risk during a pandemic.
"There's so much honesty," Bilsker said. "A lot of the conversations I've been having with people is how they can take skills that they already have into a really unknown situation and feel a little bit more prepared." ...

Alex Migdal is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He's previously reported for The Globe and Mail, Guelph Mercury and Edmonton Journal. You can reach him at alex.migdal@cbc.ca.

Read the whole article (June 14, 2020).
Canada isn't as different from the US as people (on both sides of the border) often think it is... except when it is.

Update a few days later: Turns out that the article didn't get as good as it is by chance. When people in the Vanpoly group in Vancouver, BC, found out that the article was in the works, they turned seriously proactive. Steve Ks write to us,


Carole Chanteuse and I monitor the info@vanpoly.ca email address on behalf of Vanpoly. ... We felt that the reporter's initial request (on May 21) was respectful and well-meaning, but was couched in the usual misconception that poly is all about couples opening up or seeking a third. If floated in our group as is, we felt the request could receive a predictable backlash from people tired of that constant media misconception, especially from those who considered themselves solo-poly or relationship anarchists.

Carole diplomatically corrected the reporter, who was then happy to adjust their pitch.

In the past we've maintained a list of members who we knew were well spoken that we could refer to media on short notice. That list was getting out of date, so our group's admin team agreed to put a call out to people we thought could represent us well for those willing to be interviewed, and we would present a list of people the reporter could choose from. To make that easier for the reporter, and to ensure that a diversity of styles could be represented, we would confirm each and ask a few questions first.

The call was an edited version of the reporter's pitch, along with Carole's response. That resulted in a healthy discussion and a number of people who considered themselves solo or diverse stepping forward saying "we need to be represented". I contacted each who stepped forward or was suggested.

One of the people recommended was Nienke E. van Houten -- a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology and a senior lecturer at Simon Fraser University (near Vancouver). She's a scientist who has studied vaccine design. She's new to poly, but coincidently had organized an info session for the Vanpoly group about polyamory and COVID-19, with behavioral epidemiologist Dr. Kiffer Card, called "Building a Bubble While Poly".

In presenting our list to the reporter, I hoped they would pick up that we in the polyamory community treat safety very seriously in all aspects of our lives -- and as part of that we're doing a seminar on keeping ourselves safer during the pandemic.

I was happy to see that the reporter did pick up on the seminar. Here is the publically available information from that seminar that may be useful to others in the polyamorous community.

Pay attention. They showed how it's done.

Labels: , , , ,

June 12, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Black Lives Matter statement on gender, sexuality and alt-relationships; Covid coping; and some poly TV to binge

It's Friday Polynews Roundup time again — for June 12, 2020.

An upwelling of racial justice concern not seen in half a century has filled the news media, even pushing aside the nonstop coronavirus coverage. So it's a thin week for polyamory in the news.

Moose and I continue in the daily Black Lives vigil on the town common of our mostly white suburb. The vigil has taken on a spontaneous life. People just keep on showing up during evening rush hour day after day to hold signs and wave at the passing cars. The people in the cars constantly honk, wave, and cheer in support. We've never seen anything like it here before. Something is happening.

People who are in gender, sexual, and other identity minorities are especially ready to support BLM, what with their own long history with bigoted and vengeful police covered for by official deniers and enablers. The current uprising is hot on the Polyamory Leadership Network list. For instance Bhramari Devi Dasi, who hosts Polyamory: Loving with an Open Hand, posted on her site,

I cannot in good conscience remain silent or support silence within the spaces I host regarding this social justice concern. I became particularly inspired by my 28-year-old daughter who has experienced racism as a brown-skinned Egyptian-European. Two days ago she penned a powerful piece to her employer asking for a public statement of support of its Black employees and assurances of equitable treatment and a safe and respectful working environment.

While Silence Is Violence banner

She put her job on the line.... Today -- after just getting off the phone on a follow-up call with her employer -- she told me she may be quitting. I don't know details because she told me she needed to "go breathe for a while".  Today is the day I no longer wanted to support or be part of the silence.

So I write this to encourage others of taking similar steps.  I would also love to hear from others who may be making clear statements in their poly spaces about what things they are doing because I would love to see a share of ideas.

The Black Lives Matter What We Believe statement  the closest the movement has to an official platform, displayed on the site run by BLM's 2013 co-founders  contains this of particular interest to many of us here:

...We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise). ...

Dasi urges readers to go sign the Movement for Black Lives Pledge.

Multi-hands encirlcing Earth

Back to polyamory in the news and in our communities:

●  From science fiction/fantasy writer Ferrett Steinmetz: To Survive This Pandemic, We'll Need to Adopt Some Polyamorous Skillsets (May 27). Steinmetz is also an influential blogger and longtime poly educator.

Covid-19 is transmitted very differently from STIs and this is a very different epidemic, but,

...Fact is, poly communities have been balancing “health” with “risk” for decades, and I suspect some of the classic polyamorous social habits will leak into the mainstream as the pandemic continues.

 ...At some point, we’re all going to have to figure out which friends it’s safe to have over for a night of watching Netflix, and who to invite to that gathering, knowing that every additional person you add to that list raises your chance of infection. Which isn’t too different [in principle] from people in open relationships deciding who they’re going to invite to into their beds.

So how do poly folks navigate these tricky details of emotional intimacy vs. risk of infection?

First off, most poly folks cloister themselves off into little subcommunities – a lot of poly circles divide themselves into rough circles formed of their lovers, and their lovers’ lovers (a.k.a. “the metamours”). Essentially, you’re looking one circle out – the people you date, and the people they date.

Within that poly circle – or “polycule” – is where you decide what kind of sex you’re having. The simplest – and riskiest – is called “fluid bond,” where you’re not using any kind of protection at all. Then [there's] “full barrier protection”: dental dams, condoms even for penile oral, gloves for any penetration. Then there’s just plain condom usage for PIV/anal, but no barriers for oral or digital penetration.

That may be pretty intense discussion for some of you! But that’s definitely one skill you’re gonna have to master during the pandemic: Getting comfortable with frank discussions of what you do. It’s not always comfortable asking questions like, “Do you always wear your mask when you go to the grocery store?” or “How are you disinfecting delivered packages?” – but if poly people have learned one thing, it’s that assuming everyone’s playing equally safe leads to really bad outcomes.

(Top tip: the perceived danger of a lot of STIs, herpes in particular, are often drastically overblown – in part because of the stigma of where you caught it. Nobody wants to catch an STI, partially because there are risks, but also because getting an STI is often a reason for people to become absolute jerks to you.)

...Negotiations – explicit ones – take place. And you decide, “Okay, my lover here is a potential vector for these kinds of dangers, but I am accepting that risk in exchange for hot makeout sessions with them,” and that’s that.

And sometimes, condoms break. At which point you put someone on a timeout, saying, “You gotta get tested, and we have to be on max lockdown until we get the results in.”

Which, I think, is what’ll happen to society – not the sex, but the socialization. ...

Which will lead to new social faux pas that have been standard problems for poly folks! You’ll have people lying about how consistently they wear their masks because they want the socialization, you’ll have drama with people who think they’re acting safely but aren’t really....


Toronto Life, a glossy, upscale city monthly, presents How a polyamorous Toronto man is managing his four romantic relationships remotely (June 9)

We spoke to a polyamorous tech worker—who prefers to remain anonymous. 

As told to Isabel B. Slone

“I’ve been polyamorous my whole life. I just didn’t know there was a term for it until recently. ... I spent a lot of time in therapy trying to figure out what was wrong with me. ...

“Funny story: my dad is also polyamorous. ... I met my dad at a bar in Toronto and said, ‘Listen, Dad, this is the situation. My wife and I have decided to separate. Oh by the way, I’m polyamorous. Do you know what that is?’ He looks at me and goes, ‘I’m a senior member of a Canadian polyamory Facebook group.’ I had a bit of a head-explosion moment. ...

“Currently, I have four romantic partners. There’s my wife, or my nesting partner, who I’ll call Jane. We got married in 2016, and she’s now seven months pregnant with twins. ... I’m also still seeing Tabitha, who lives in Portland, Oregon, in a triad with her two nesting partners and their kids. The three of them were planning on having a ceremonial marriage at the beginning of April, but that was delayed due to Covid-19. Then there’s Annabelle, who I met online through OKCupid and started seeing two and a half years ago, and Cassidy, who I met through Tinder and started seeing a year and a half ago.

“Each relationship nourishes different aspects of my life. ... Because of Covid, all that disappeared quickly.

“I have a cottage in Lanark County.... When Covid hit, Jane and I were at the cottage spending time with my kids for March Break. We decided pretty quickly to form a bubble: it would be the kids, me and Jane, my ex-wife and her partner, and my father, who is 69 and recently underwent heart surgery. When the world went into lockdown, I got my dad out of Toronto and drove him to the lake house to stay with us. ...

“Because Jane is pregnant and my dad is immunocompromised, we all decided that no one in our bubble would interact with anybody outside that circle—and that included my other partners. In tech, we call it limiting the blast radius. When I told my partners what we were doing, everyone was on the same page. ...

“Physical distance has been a challenge. I miss the sex, and even more than that I miss the quiet time cuddling and watching a movie. ... We’ve been doing lots of check-ins. I ask my partners how they’re feeling, what I could be doing better. I recently had a check-in with Cassidy around two weeks ago because I was super-busy with work, and we were often only talking twice a week instead of every day. She flagged that, so I’ve proactively started slotting conversations with her in my calendar every day that my colleagues can’t book.

...“I’m a data-driven person, so when I start seeing Covid-related deaths in Canada drop and trend down for a four-week period, that’s when we’ll have a conversation about opening up our bubble. The first thing I will do is talk to my ex-wife to see how she feels about me seeing my partners again. I don’t want to introduce any dissent into the working relationship that we have. ...

“It would have been so much easier for us to be irresponsible. I miss my partners like crazy and we’re all doing our best to cope. ... When I see people at the grocery store disrespect social distancing, or photos of people gathering at Trinity Bellwoods, I feel like they don’t understand the sacrifices that other people are making.

“At the same time, I have to acknowledge how lucky I am. ...”

●  Speaking of occupying yourself for long periods indoors, another review of the "Trigonometry" TV series came in: A BBC import about polyamory might be the low-key highlight of HBO Max’s launch (May 28; on ReadySetCut.com, "independent website for streaming coverage")

A gently touching show about non-traditional human connection stands out as a low-key highlight of HBO Max’s mixed-bag launch.

Trigonometry's Gemma and Kieran
Trigonometry's Gemma and Kieran

By Jonathon Wilson

...The low-key highlight of the HBO Max launch isn’t any of the platform’s original content but a polyamory drama lifted from BBC2. ... In Trigonometry, writers and creators Duncan Macmillan and Effie Woods deliver an engaging and natural tale of an unconventional romance that develops in as relatable and “normal” a way as possible.

The small screen tends not to be kind to unconventional romances – Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh tried to open up their stale relationship in the annoying BBC/Netflix dramedy Wanderlust, and a “throuple” was easily the most grating subplot in CBS’s time-hopping dark comedy Why Women Kill. And that’s just off the top of my head. But [these three] all immediately come across as real people whose separate lives begin to romantically intertwine when Ray moves in with the couple.

Across eight episodes, this entanglement is handled with an admirable degree of sensitivity and understanding – especially since it’s about how people navigate feelings that they don’t understand and latch onto the essential power of human connection that, as all right-minded people know, isn’t fussy enough to care about small matters of gender or convention. The show’s quietly observant style is a perfect fit for a relational puzzle in which the participants attempt to feel the outline of the pieces before they slot them into place.

...Trigonometry is happy to be messy because all real relationships are, but it smartly elects not to pretend the mess has been made entirely because three’s a crowd. That’s a vital distinction....

With its storytelling economy and rich sense of character, Trigonometry strikes as a fine love story. But its acute sense of characters bonding, despite and indeed largely because of uncertainty, gives it a charmingly hopeful slant, as though it’s suggesting how normalized these kinds of unconventional relationships could and should be. ... Trigonometry makes its central three-way relationship a perfectly regular thing. Perhaps we should too.

●  Also on TV and streaming: A new online docu-series titled Prideland will air as a 1-hour special this evening Friday June 12 at 9 pm eastern, 8 central, on some of the 330 public TV stations in the US. This is the first of the newly launched PBS "Voices" series. "Follow queer actor Dyllón Burnside on a journey to discover how LGBTQ Americans are finding ways to live authentically and with pride in the modern South." Prideland has stirred up a campaign on the religious right to keep it off the air.

Prideland consists of six short episodes. Episode 3, already online, is Polyamory, Demisexuality, and Being Transgender in the South. For this episode, "Dyllón Burnside sits down with a group of diverse LGBTQ+ community members at the Creating Change conference in Dallas, Texas.... In this episode of #PridelandPBS guests talk candidly about asexuality, polyamorous relationships, and how to manage diverging expectations in the queer community."

The highlighting of polyam as the first word in the episode's title is interesting, because the poly content is quite brief. I take this as another sign that the LGBT+ world is getting ever less paranoid about discussing multi-relationships in public. And also that the marketing department wanted titles with SEO words that sell. 

Here is all of Episode 3 (9 1/2 minutes). The poly part begins at 4:15, where Dr. Celiany Rivera-Veláquez describes her queer open relationship. (The link, in case the embed below doesn't play.)


That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now! See you next Friday, unless something big comes up  sooner.

Stay safe.


Labels: , , , ,

June 5, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Polyam relationship and distancing stories, BLM show-up advisory, and more

It's Friday Polynews Roundup again — for June 5, 2020. A quiet week polywise, if one of the most important weeks of our time otherwise.

● Another major newspaper, the UK's Independent, did a long article on the polyworld's unique positioning just now. (With clickbait in the head, because capitalism.) Virtual orgies and WhatsApp sex: How polyamorous people are navigating open love in lockdown (May 30).

Lockdown has forced polyamorous couples [sic] into monogamous scenarios that go against their ideologies [sic].

Rex Features / Shutterstock
By Olivia Petter

...The logistics of a polyamorous relationship vary from couple to couple. “I have one lover,” explains Asa, “and David has one person who he sees regularly but other lovers that he sees from time to time as well.” Typically, Asa and David would only see each other once or twice a week and the occasional weekend. But spending lockdown together has brought them closer to one another.

“At the start, we bought a tantric sex book that teaches couples to intensify their sex lives in just 28 days through meditation, words of appreciation, breathing exercises, and weekly love-making rituals lasting four to six hours.” They have been keeping in touch with other lovers via WhatsApp, and meeting others through virtual orgies. “...When we saw that our favourite sex party Killing Kittens launched virtual events, I surprised David by buying two tickets for our date night – which was virtually interacting with hundreds of other people watching, enjoying other having sex – us included. It was held via Zoom.

...According to one YouGov poll from 2015, 34 per cent of Britons believe polyamory to be “morally acceptable” while 39 per cent said they don’t think human beings are monogamous by nature. ... Explains psychologist and sex educator Dr Lori Beth Bisbey, “It can benefit people who have high self-esteem and are confident in their place in each of their relationships.

...While polyamory doesn’t exactly lend itself to the restrictions forced upon us in a pandemic, there are ways to maintain relationships with multiple partners. One tip, says Dr Bisbey, is to make as much time to see them virtually as you normally would if we weren’t in lockdown. Don’t just stick to FaceTime, either. “Connect in a variety of ways,” suggests Dr Bisbey. “Text them, phone them, go for a social distancing walk if you can. Send each other presents in the post, like something with your scent on it, or ask their roommate to give them a hug from you.” 

Crucially, she says, be kind and be patient. No matter your relationship status, these are incredibly difficult and distressing times. Being there for a romantic partner is needed now more than ever before, regardless of how many you have. ...

●  From Elisabeth Sheff, 7 Tips for CNM Relationship Maintenance During the Pandemic (June 3). CNM is of course consensual non-monogamy.1

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on and some people re-emerge from quarantine, others remain firmly isolated at home. Even those who are no longer quarantined are facing a society deeply changed by the virus, with greater physical distance here to stay for some time.

...[Here are] tips from experts with a wealth of advice on how to sustain a healthy and happy CNM relationship during a pandemic.

1. Self-care is Relationship Care

...Zach Budd, a social worker and self-described consent warrior, affirms that self-care is critically important right now because “the entire word is in the midst of a protracted trauma… you wake up in the morning it should be the first thought you have because literally most of us aren't going to get through a week without doing something for self-care. ...” Budd recommends taking breaks from the 24/7 news coverage... exercising more, taking naps, and listening to podcasts instead of watching TV.

2. Focusing on Togetherness

Many people have found additional time with loved ones to be a benefit of being quarantined together.... but it can also become blasé. Libby Sinback, polyamory relationship transformation coach, recommends that partners “create intentional time together, even if you feel like you're together 24/7 ... making space to connect deeply and have meaningful conversations with each other.”

3. Asking for What You Want
..Avoid expecting your partners (kids, friends, family, etc.) to read your mind. When your needs are not being met it can be tempting to critique the person you expect to meet them, especially if it is a long term relationship that has built up its own emotional baggage. Rather than critiquing your partner for failing to read your mind, ask clearly for what you want.

Kitty Chambliss, a sex-positive open relationship coach, says, “...It is so empowering to realize that the only person we can control is ourselves (not our partners). By looking inward and examining our own thoughts and subsequent feelings, we can get in touch with our unmet needs that may be the root cause. ... This can build intimacy, understanding, and more trust and connection with our partners.”

This can be especially important for people in CNM relationships because they have fewer role-models....

4. Giving Each Other (and Yourself) a Break

Dirty Lola, a sex educator and host of Sex Ed a Go Go explains that “We also need to take a step back and realize that our decision making processes right now are colored by loneliness, anxiousness, depression, all of these things that are really not making us good decision makers right now.” ... 
With fewer distractions, these mistakes might take on additional importance because they dominate the immediate environment in which everyone is already experiencing higher levels of stress. ...

5. Connecting When Apart

Dr. Amy Moors... has noticed an uptick in creative ideas for connecting online. Moors reported that her content analysis of Reddit threads revealed that there are “really creative things people are doing to stay connected… People are going on lots of virtual dates, like [the game] Animal Crossing. Different ways to do dates and stay connected. ...

6. Addressing Submerged Issues

In my own relationship coaching practice I am seeing an increase of relationships that had some issue that people were aware was problematic but never really wanted to address... These issues that were moderately irritating (at least on the surface) suddenly became unmanageable when they were magnified by unrelenting confinement. ... This could be the time for folks in these relationships to find resources, get support, get brave, work up their compassion to the highest level, and face the issue directly.

Libby Sinback urges caution when facing big issues. “...If you are finding yourself stuck in deep pain you can't move past, now more than ever is a time to reach out for professional help. ...


7. Caring for Others. 

If you are lucky enough to be comfortably housed, still earning money, and making it through... it can really help to share your good fortune with others.... Zach Budd advocates for a collective response to the pandemic. “...We're all part of a human family and we are all going through this together. So we really have to try to let go of the individual’s thinking.... This isn’t just about you.” Simple actions such as wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance can contribute to community well-being, provide a small sense of control in an out of control world, and help to refocus from your own misery to helping others.

Sheff's first two articles in this series talked about advantages and disadvantages of being polyamorous during the pandemic, and social power and hierarchy in quarantine, especially around who gets to set the social distancing rules.

●  Sheff's The Polyamorists Next Door blog, where these appeared, is hosted by Psychology Today magazine. Also popping up in the Psychology Today world was this from another therapist: “I Am Glad That My Partner Is Happy with Her Lover” by Aaron Ben-Zeév (June 2). It's an excerpt from his book The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change over Time  (2019).

Compersion is a complex emotion that appears in complex circumstances. ... 

[Having] multiple parallel romantic relations enhances [the likelihood of fearful comparisons].... The comparative concern in polyamory is more vivid because you are surrounded by people who are tied up with your self-esteem: the lover of your spouse, the spouse of your lover, and others in this romantic network. Nevertheless... the fact that polyamorous ideology favors such parallel relations reduces the weight of such comparison. The weight of comparison is also reduced when there are significant differences between the primary and secondary partners, for example, in age, appearance, character or occupation. This is because making comparisons between similar people is easier than making them between those who are significantly different. ...

●  My pick as the British tabloids' happy-poly story of the week: Polyamorous couple who bring other women into their relationship, and even take them on exotic vacations, insist that having a third partner keeps their romance 'fresh' (May 26). Yes, another MF couple finds another F.  But the reason these get so much tabloid attention is that they're probably the commonest polyfamily form and therefore the easiest for the tabloid content agencies to find.

For Priscilla Soares, 25, and Steven Bolden, 26, from Connecticut, the idea of having another woman join their relationship initially started off as a joke but it soon became a reality for the couple - who now regularly document their experiences on YouTube and Instagram.

Speaking to Jam Press Media, the couple, who have amassed a steady fan base on social media, explained they initially started sharing the details of their unusual romantic arrangement due to a surge in interest from their followers.

Priscilla and Steven are incredibly open about their polyamorous romances on social media, however they keep the identities of their dates hidden.

'We started answering a lot of questions and so began making content based around that but our intention was, and still is, to inspire people to live their best lives while becoming their best selves, to see the world and have as many peak life experiences as possible and also to educate and provide resources to help people structure their lives in a way that they can live freely,' Priscilla explained

...Priscilla notes that a love interest will not move into the couple's home immediately but that the three of them will spend a lot of time together. "...'Moving in together is a big step. That should only happen when everyone feels it's time.'

●  Currently going around Facebook:

Image link.

On a related note, Moose and I are off to our third day at the daily BLM demo in our white-bread suburb. It's being run mostly by high-school kids. The car-honking in support is like nothing I've seen before at vigils in my 30 years here. The honking is sometimes almost continuous despite the thinner commuting traffic. Something really is happening.  

See you next Friday, unless news presses sooner.


1.  CNM, consensual non-monogamy, has quickly become an umbrella term among psychologists and sociologists (it covers not just polyamory but also open relationships, swinging, etc.), because it is defined exactly, by behavior. Just like MSM, "men who have sex with men," which is used in medicine because it includes self-closeted men who don't consider themselves gay or bi. (Think former U.S. Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, R-Idaho, a homophobe with favorite airport mens' rooms.)

Labels: , ,