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

November 13, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup: Relationship anarchy as poly framework. New polyfamily kids' book, a heart-melt wedding, hihi birds, and more

●  Canada cross-border relationships update. Last month I posted a call by Canadian poly activists to press Parliament to allow not just "exclusive" relationship partners to visit from the US during Covid, but poly partners too. The "exclusivity" wording in the rules turned out to be vague, but even so the push failed. Says organizer Eve Rickert, "The [Immigration] Ministry has confirmed that polyamorous relationships are not eligible for visitation under these new rules." She and Carrie Jenkins wrote Canada Defines Love—Exclusively (Oct. 31).

●  Remember that piece on platonic romantic friendship in The Atlantic last month, built on the concept of relationship anarchy which the magazine failed to name? Following up, Self magazine named it: How ‘Relationship Anarchy’ Can Help You Deepen Your Friendships (Nov. 4).

Sarah Alice Rabbit / Adobe Stock
By Melissa A. Fabello

“You want to write about Rachael?” my mother asked. ... But when she read my [college application] essay for errors, she shed tears.... Not only because I was lucky to have someone so powerful in my life, but because she knew her own childhood best friend—more than any public figure, family member, or romantic partner—had deeply impacted her too. For both of us, the relationships we forged with our childhood besties would serve us well into adulthood: We would grow into who we were, partly because of the women we relied on while coming of age.

...It can be helpful to think of how cisheteronormativity feeds into our relationships as a relationship escalator, whereby societal messaging encourages you to date serially and monogamously until you meet the One. Friends support while you’re “on the hunt,” but then society expects you to hyper-focus on a singular, all-encompassing relationship. ...
Pushing back against the relationship escalator takes a fair amount of introspection and intentional action. Enter: relationship anarchy, a phrase created by queer feminist thinker Andie Nordgren, meant to capture the philosophical idea that social rules should not limit our relationships. ...

Overall, relationship anarchists place less emphasis on titles—like partner, sibling, parent, or friend—and more on the relationship’s significance. You’re not expected to prioritize your mother just by virtue of her being so. You’re not expected to live with a romantic interest over a platonic connection. Instead, you organize your life around the relationships that are most meaningful to you. ...

I practice polyamory, recognizing how unexamined monogamy can be harmful and limiting. By deprioritizing cis men in my life, I challenge the patriarchal notion that as a woman, my role is to cater to men. And I place friendships back where they belong for me—front and center—by giving mostly fellow queer, femme women the most gravitational pull in my orbit. ... A multifaceted system will always be more supportive than a singular focus for me. ...

In a world where we often joke about how hard it is to make and maintain friends in adulthood, we should question the systems that drive a wedge into those relationships in pursuit of one, narrow, sometimes fleeting structure. ...

●  So much for "natural law." Biologists say about 1,000 animal species are known to engage in homosexual or bisexual partnering and/or sex acts, with at least 450 of these species having it solidly documented. The number of known polyamorous species is growing too. These are creatures (often birds) that display long-term sexual and/or offspring-rearing partnerships among three or more adults.

The latest picked up by news media is New Zealand's hihi. New Zealand bird of the year: adult toy store endorses 'polyamorous' hihi (Guardian, Nov. 10).

Rod Williams / Alamy stock photo

...The hihi, or stitchbird, is the only bird in the world to mate face to face, according to a statement released by Adult Toy Megastore as part of its campaign endorsement.

“We are proud to endorse the hihi for bird of the year 2020. Hihi lead the sex positivity movement among songbirds and for that we salute them and say to you: VOTE HIHI.

“Male and female hihi practice consensual polyamory (the practice of intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners) which is rare.

And as often happens in animals where a female mates with several males in rapid succession, sperm competition has evolved:

“Male hihi have testicles four times larger than they should be, making them, by size, the largest testicles on a bird in the world!… 

But don't go hoping for role models:

...Claims of consensual polyamory, however, were contradicted by a 2004 university thesis which found “male stitchbirds seem to be able to bypass female choice through adopting a face to face forced copulation position”.


Massey University zoologist, Isabel Castro, who studied hihi mating systems, found they had a reproductive flexibility with few peers among perching birds. They can be found in conventional pairings or in breeding groups, Castro told NZ Geographic magazine. The group might consist of one male and several females, or in some cases one female may have several males in attendance. ...

New Zealand's bird-of-the-year competition has become a big thing in that nation. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is silent so far on the hihi; she is reported to be backing the black petrel.

I've been saving up a collection of polyamorous critter news for a future post. Watch this space.

(Update: Victory in the national competition went to the Kākāpō, the world's fattest parrot aka the "mighty moss chicken": an endangered, flightless ground dweller with a face likened to "that of a Victorian gentleman" and a smell "like the inside of a clarinet case, musty and kind of like resin and wood.")

●  A heart-melter today in the New York Times Style section, "Weddings" department: A Blue Moon Wedding for Two Goth Romantics (online Nov. 13). It's by Jenny Block, author of the groundbreaking book Open published back in 2008 when open relationships were barely recognized as a workable thing.

Vivienne Vermuth and Jason Perkins met in 2012 when she was performing at a burlesque show in Dallas. Although polyamorous, they decided to marry because they are “the center of each other’s lives and love.”

Dee Hill

On Halloween night, under a blue moon, Vivienne Vermuth and Jason Perkins, both dressed in black, were married after a dating life that Mr. Perkins describes as more layered than an onion.

...They call themselves “goth romantics” and were thrilled to realize 2020 would have the first full blue moon on Halloween in 76 years. “It’s a big deal for us,” she said. “It’s a time of cleansing, of starting over, and I can’t imagine a better time to do so than right now.”

The couple married in an outdoor ceremony Oct. 31 at Flag Pole Hill Park in Dallas by friend and fellow performer Honey Sin Claire, an Open Ministry minister.

They would have liked to have had more guests than the 10 that current Covid-19 protocol allows in Dallas. “We wanted to include our partners and their immediate family,” Ms. Vermuth said. “So it got hard very fast. Luckily it’s still about us, our love, and everyone around us understand and supports us which is most important.”

Mr. Perkins wore a gray velvet blazer and black pants. Ms. Vermuth wore a 1931, hand-sewn, black silk gown with a spider web Art Deco beaded back. Her sheer black gloves were embossed with velvet runes. Her bouquet and his boutonniere included ethically sourced mink skulls with wedding runes burned into them for love, perseverance, trust and sensual energy.

●  A children's book about polyfamilies is in its Kickstarter phase. A Color Named Love is written by M. Ellery and illustrated by Clara Reschke. "Meet Anna and her 4 parents in this children's book that celebrates polyamory and all the beautiful and valid forms of loving families." 

The authors' Kickstarter video.

Ellery has also written a Medium article: How to Be a Non-Monogamous Mother in a Binary World (Oct. 30). "Finding resources with polyamorous parents represented seemed impossible, so I created my own." The deadline for pledge donations is December 10. Estimated delivery of the book, if the Kickstarter goal is met, is March 2021. If the goal is missed your pledge will be returned.

●  And in the South Seattle Emerald ("a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet offering a wider lens of our region’s most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities"), comes some poly poetry: I am learning to let love be boring, by Nic Masangkay (Nov. 11). Not bad.


–   The annual round of polyamory hotel conferences, rural retreats, and other regional events shut right down last March when Covid hit. Nevertheless I'm keeping Alan's List of Polyamory Events updated for the coming year.

Don't expect any big gatherings to restart until deep into 2021, I'm guessing. But some events are moving online, meaning you don't have to travel! Next up: 

November 22–23, 2020

PolyCon Canada 2020, a project of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), was originally scheduled to gather in Edmonton. Now it's a "24 hr livestream event from sundown Nov 22 to sundown Nov 23, 2020 (PST). Join us on Twitch or YouTube at no cost to view." Write for details.

"Title: Honouring Intersectionality and Diversity in our Communities. Livestreamed hosting, interactive chat, and video segments. Broadcast will also be available on YouTube and Twitch 24 hrs after the event." See schedule and program updates, including speakers. 

–   Got an announcement that belongs here? Write me at alan7388 (at) gmail.com 

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