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

July 3, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – Poly domestic partnerships recognized, keeping community during Covid, polyandry for China? And more

Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for July 3, 2020.

●  The city of Somerville, Massachusetts, became the first in the US to enact a domestic-partnership ordinance that includes polyamorous partnerships of three or more people. 

The news broke in the local Somerville paper on Wednesday, when I first posted about it. Now the news has gone national, first in the Boston Globe, then the New York Times, CNN, Fox News and elsewhere. And, later, around the globe (for instance Vietnam Times). I've updated that original post accordingly.

The Globe has just followed up with a short feature article quoting some well-known poly community leaders locally and elsewhere: Somerville’s new polyamory-friendly policy a ‘turning point' (July 2):

Somerville City Hall

A new domestic partnership policy in Somerville that recognizes polyamorous relationships is a powerful symbol, advocates and academics said, though the specifics of its protections remain limited.

...“The Somerville ordinance is an exciting turning point for people who are polyamorous or in multipartner families,” said Diana Adams, the executive director of the Chosen Family Law Center in New York. “There has been tremendous momentum and energy and hope for this for many years.”

Adams said the law center hoped to push similar ordinances in other small, progressive cities, in a strategy similar to the one that secured the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country. ...

While it broadens and reframes the idea of who counts as a family, the legal protections conferred by the ordinance seem to be narrow, said Kimberly Rhoten, an attorney and graduate student at Boston University who focuses on how the law relates to gender and sexual minorities.

Any benefit that the city provides to domestic partners — like hospital or prison visits — can now also apply to multiple partners in a domestic partnership. But private employers aren’t required to provide health insurance for domestic partners. So one of the primary concerns that prompted the ordinance, accessing health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic, remains unaddressed, Rhoten said. And the question of how the ordinance might affect state and federal family leave is unclear, she said.

“It’s a signaling boost for this community that the city is recognizing more than two partnerships,” Rhoten said. “However there are legal pitfalls involved with the ordinance. We’ll wait and see what happens.”

...Under the ordinance, people qualify for a domestic partnership if they “consider themselves to be a family” and are “in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment and intend to remain in such a relationship.” It does not require that domestic partners be in a romantic relationship.

...Some described it as one piece of a much broader movement for LGBTQ rights.

“I would say that polyamory and consensual non-monogamy in general is riding on the coattails of queer liberation,” said Elisabeth ‘Eli’ Sheff, an international expert on children growing up in polyamorous families and author of the book “The Polyamorists Next Door.” “I definitely see it as a trend towards greater recognition of existing diversity.”

That recognition is one of the crucial parts of the new ordinance, said Jay Sekora, who runs the group Poly Boston, which has about 500 members and hosted dinner outings and discussion group in pre-pandemic times. ...

“I was really excited that a town in my state would recognize the fact that families can’t be defined by government restricting the number of people, or the genders of the people involved, or anything like that,” said Valerie White, the executive director of the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is based in Sharon. White said she has been practicing non-monogamy since the 1960s.


●  Polyandry is proposed to solve China's massive gender imbalance. China, like India, has a crisis-level overabundance of men. Both societies traditionally value sons over daughters. Combine that with economic and population pressures to have have small families, plus sex-determination technology for aborting female fetuses, and China now has tens of millions of men who will never be able to marry. "Bare branches" of the family tree, they are called.

In societies everywhere, "excess males" are known to correlate with social instability, crime gangs, private armies on the loose, and countries making war on their neighbors, conveniently keeping the excess males away from home and maybe using them up. The Chinese know they have a problem. 

By Anna Fifield 

Chinese authorities have been trying for three years to reverse the devastating imbalances of their one-child policy and coax couples to have more children. ... None of this has worked. China’s birthrate remains stubbornly low and men greatly outnumber women, creating a demographic crisis....

But now, an economics professor at Fudan University in Shanghai has come up with another — and, unsurprisingly, controversial — solution: Allow women to have multiple husbands, and they will have multiple babies.

“I wouldn’t suggest polyandry if the gender ratio was not so severely imbalanced,” Yew-Kwang Ng, who is Malaysian, wrote in his regular column on a Chinese business website this month. The headline asked: “Is polyandry really a ridiculous idea?” ...

The Post got the news from the China-watchers' site SupChina:  Should Chinese women have multiple husbands? (June 3):

Yew-Kwang Ng offers his proposal

The controversial article (in Chinese) was published on June 2 by NetEase Finance, a website dedicated to business news. Titled “Is polyandry really a ridiculous idea?” the piece is part of a weekly column written by [Ng]. In the latest installment of the series, [Ng, sometimes given as "Huang"] said that in China, where the sex ratio was 117 men to 100 women, the severe gender imbalance has caused a fierce competition among males looking for wives, leaving millions of bachelors struggling to “have their psychological and physical needs satisfied.”

Huang then [proposed] decriminalizing sex work and allowing women to have several husbands.

...“Polyandry has a long history and a scope of application. The practice also exists in modern times,” Huang wrote, citing an example of Tibet, where polyandry became illegal after China’s annexation in 1950.

...Some people opposed his idea because polyandry defied their traditional views about marriage. But more people, mostly women, criticized Huang for his misogynist attitude toward women, saying that he saw women as nothing more than reproductive tools and objects to fulfill men’s sexual needs. ...

The polyandry solution has been floated in China before. The fact that government censors allow this discussion suggests that the government is not opposed in principle.

A wider culture of modern, gender-egalitarian polyamory might make the idea a little more plausible — especially from the women's point of view. We've already seen stirrings of modern polyamory in China and Hong Kong, but it's got a very long way to go.

The real answer, of course, is to dump a whole tangle of bad culture overboard and start valuing girls as much as boys.  

● Plenty of poly-in-the-time-of-Covid articles have appeared in mainstream media; scroll through the last three months here. Most of them are fairly alike.

But here's one from inside the poly world's Neo-Pagan wing, a source of our being that goes back more than 30 years through the originators of the word itself. So the article is more interesting than most, despite a bland headline. It speaks of the damage not just to private poly relationships but to our wider communal sensibility. And it makes the encouraging point that this is hitting us nowhere near like AIDS hit the gay community, and look how strong they came back.    

The Wild Hunt is a Pagan community news site that has been running since at least 2000. Pagan and poly during COVID-19 (June 29). 

By Manny Tejeda-Moreno

Sam can’t begin to tell how many changes COVID-19 has forced on his relationships. “I don’t know,” he says. “I’ve lost count.

Sam... has a wife and a boyfriend who live apart from one another. His wife was planning a vacation to Spain while Sam and his boyfriend, Manny, were planning to visit Chile. “All plans have been canceled,” Sam says. “But that’s not the hard part. Our relationships are on hold.”... Sam has only seen his partners online since March – they video chat daily.

Many polyamorous people are experiencing similar situations.... One person, who requested not to be identified, said that her community and relationships had fallen apart because of social distancing. She lives in Spain, and the pandemic hit so forcefully and so completely there that her community has barely begun to process the trauma. Even now, she says, many will not see each other because of the risks it poses to their community.

Allie Phelan, the Polyamorous Librarian, agrees. While Phelan is not Pagan, she is an active advocate and educator on polyamory.

“Just a few months ago,” says Phelan, “we were a thriving community. There’s a polyamory holiday called Metamour Day, sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, where people honor their partners’ partners, and a group of about two dozen of us got together and had a potluck. It was an incredible way of celebrating how connected we all are. Some of us were meeting for the first time, and some of us had been friends long before the people involved had gotten together, so it was a great mix that showed a lot of different facets of what polyamory is all about.

“Now we don’t know when we could do something like that again, and almost none of us have seen each other anywhere but Zoom since then.”

Rayna Templebee, who lives in South Florida, identifies as a queer Pagan woman and is part of polyamorous relationships. She said her partners have talked about COVID-19, but her experience is a little different.

Rayna Templebee

“I think what we learned during the HIV pandemic hasn’t really been in play as much for poly people during the COVID pandemic since this isn’t a sexually transmitted disease,” says Templebee. “The conversations that poly people have all the time about their partners’ sexual status and health have made conversations about COVID and quarantine easier. I think there is just an acceptance within most of the poly world that our health is all inter-related and that’s important and worth careful attention.”

Some of this is well-trodden ground for the poly community. Manny, Sam’s partner, remembers HIV and the conversations around the pandemic when no cure was available. He mentioned to Sam that, although COVID-19 is not the same as the AIDS crisis, the negotiations seem the same. ...

...“Do I keep visiting my partner who lives three hours away or not?” she says, giving one example. “I live in a town that had a curfew at one point, that was a consideration in traveling to see him. I had conversations with him and my nesting partner about all our mutual risk exposure levels, and whether we were able to decide to be one biome for the quarantine. Since all three of us were working from home, we decided it was safe enough to continue visits and that we would maintain the boundaries of our biome – which also includes my adult kid who lives at home and goes nowhere. He is much more strict than the three of us. But then my partner’s daughter and her two moms – they live in another town, what to do about the monthly visits to see her?”

Many polyamorous individuals we contacted... confirmed the scope of emotional stress.

“Guilt is a big one around here,” says Phelan, “especially in regards to class issues. ... In a scenario like this one, you have people who can work from home who can much more safely ‘pod up’ than essential workers, leaving people isolated.”

“Podding up” is a form of the quarantine bubble... Pods require boundaries, dialogue, and negotiation – the strengths of the poly community noted earlier by Templebee.

Templebee said there are many in her community who are “deciding to create biomes like ours.” At the same time, she noted she has seen “lots of poly people putting any new dating completely on hold and hanging out in Zoom meetups instead – online gaming has been really popular in our poly meetup and I think a few people who have been gaming together may end up dating once they are comfortable with face to face interaction again.”

Not everyone in the polyamorous community is podding up, though, or even living with a partner. ...

●  Meanwhile Huffpost, in its series Risky Business: Love And Sex In A Germaphobic World, tags the poly/CNM base with a nice story: What It's Like To Be In An Open Relationship During COVID-19  (June 29). You may remember the first polyfamily it interviews, Summer, Jimmy, and Chacha Silva, from the tabloids:

Chacha, Jimmy, and Summer

Summer Rain, Chacha, and Jimmy Silva live together in Los Angeles as a triad.... The trio “wed” last year, after Jimmy proposed with rings made from the same stone, for symbolism’s sake. ...

Their relationship is also an open one: “We see other people, together,” Jimmy explained.

It’s a complicated arrangement that works perfectly for them. But now ... the last few months have been considerably more complicated for the trio.

“The pandemic has affected our travel plans, which we had arranged to see a date of ours,” Jimmy, who works in the cannabis industry, told HuffPost. “I think everyone has been less inclined to hang out and see other people.”

To compensate, the throuple has had a lot of virtual dates with new matches on Facetime.

...Once they do meet a [potential] sexual partner in person, they’re not going to take any risks; they care too much about each other to put each other’s safety on the line for sex, Jimmy said.


...Chloe, a digital creative worker in New York City, has been in an open relationship with her boyfriend for eight months. Since COVID, their mutually agreed-upon arrangement has morphed to fit the times.

Now, the couple each has a designated “safe” person they’re allowed to hang out with in an indoor setting. Everyone else is off-limits.

... “We trust that the two additional people we are spending time with indoors, without masks on, are being honest about their exposure to others too,” she said. “Of course, this comes with a risk, but we have set up precautions around it.”


...Many couples said they’re used to having candid conversations; strong open relationships tend to be transparent, with clear-cut rules that are renegotiated when necessary. Talking about the virus and what’s tentatively off-limits now is relatively easy, they said.

“The great thing about being in an open relationship is that we’ve become very comfortable and confident having conversations about sexual health and safety with our intimate partners, so for us with this pandemic it just means we are adding a few more questions to that list,” Lucie said.

The Silvas, meanwhile, said that making sure each person feels safe, secure and prioritized remains at the top of their minds. ... if [Jimmy] and his wives are seeing anyone new, they’re doing so because they have a baseline trust in that person, he said. And they’d certainly wait for that person to get tested or quarantine for 14 days.... “We communicate deeply and often with our partners. We’d normally know someone for the 14-day grace period prior before engaging in sex anyway.”

●  Batting away a different source of trouble, Polyamorous throuple hits back at cruel trolls, in Yahoo Lifestyle, June 29. 

By Kristine Tarbert

This polyamorous throuple is hitting back after cruel trolls told them they were ‘going to hell’.

Shayla Oliphant first met James Bolden in high school.... [In 2015] the couple decided to switch things up and spoke about extending their relationship. That’s when the pair, now 26 and 28, met Shantay Nelson, 30, and the group began their life as a throuple in 2019.

“Everything changed when Shantay joined us,” Shayla, from Arizona, said.

“James and I were able to watch each other fall in love with her, which extended our own relationship with each other. From the beginning, we all just clicked. ...

“Polyamory is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood. It’s about communication, commitment, and love. 

The trio has never been happier, yet navigating a polyamorous relationship isn’t without its struggles. ...

“Once after posting a picture of us all on Instagram, someone commented telling us how we were ‘disrespecting the Lord,’ and would ‘go to hell’ for what we were doing,” [Shayla] revealed.

[But closer to home,] “Everyone has been more than accepting to all of us. Shantay’s sister was hesitant at first but she realised how truly happy Shantay was. Likewise, my mother was confused but has warmed to the idea since then,” Shayla said.

“Thousands of people listen to our podcast, 3lationship Goals, and send messages of love and support - whether they are polyamorous or not. ...” 

●  And while we're going on with profiles of MFF triads, this one's making the rounds of the Murdochs' News Corp. empire: Colorado ‘throuple’ expecting first child, wants girlfriend to breastfeed. We first saw it on the site of the New York Post (July 1).

Jess Woodstock, Lo and Mike Taylor (@wearethr33_/Mercury Press)

By Jackie Salo

And baby makes four!

...Though Lo Taylor is carrying the baby, she and her husband, Mike Taylor, want to give their girlfriend, Jess Woodstock, a more hands-on role raising the little one, News.com.au reported.

“I wanted Jess to be in this baby as much as possible because it will look like me and Mike, so we want as much of her DNA as we can get too,” Lo told the outlet.

The Taylors were already married when they had a threesome with Woodstock in July 2018 that quickly progressed to something more serious.

“I remember the day after we met Jess we were at her house and we both agreed we wanted to see more of this girl, we both just loved being around her, it was organic like any normal relationship,” Lo said.

...Woodstock said she plans to sync up her cycle and hormones with Lo to stimulate her body’s milk production, the outlet reported.

...“Not a lot of women can say, ‘I’m going to take this shift off and let my girlfriend breastfeed tonight,'” Woodstock said. ...

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