Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



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.

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