Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

November 24, 2021

An alignment of polyamory and queer in recent media

A bunch of the polyamory in the media this week involved parallels between the poly world and LGBTQIA+ queerdom.

Polyfolks as such don't qualify as queer in my own opinion (others disagree), first because so many are sexually and romantically straight. And secondly, while most LGBT+ people feel born this way, quite a few polyfolks feel the relationship style was their choice after they realized it was possible (see big discussion happening on reddit). So if you want to get word-ish, call our relationships "weird," not "queer." 

But there sure is a lot of overlap! And not just because self-identified bisexuals are many times more abundant in the poly world than in the general population. We face similar sex-negative stigma and discrimination as queer folx; we are always weighing and discussing whether to be closeted, out-and-proud, or sort of out here and there; and in similar ways we seek to find each other, create community, and declare and defend ourselves to the world.   

So it's only natural that the weekly magazine OutFront ("The queer stories you want. The media you trust.") would publish this manifesto: The Polyamorous Community and the Fight for Acceptance (Nov. 16).

It's only four paragraphs long and dwells on legalizing group marriage (something that, according to surveys, much of the poly world supports in principle but not very many want for themselves).

Here's much of it:

By Vienna Austin

...When the historical and current oppression of the LGBTQ community is discussed, one specific group’s oppression, one that exists very prevalently in the broader queer community today, is often left out. This group is the polyamorous community.

Despite significant progress for the queer community, the marriage of polyamorous relationships, polygamy, is criminalized in much of the world, including the United States. Polyamorous people, a community defined by their compatibility with a mode of romantic and sexual relationship organization that includes more than two individuals, can face anywhere from a felony charge to a misdemeanor charge for marriage, depending on the state.

...Though acceptance is growing of this community, it is still extremely low. According to Gallup polls, the percentage of Americans who see polygamy as morally acceptable went from 7 percent in 2003 to 20 percent in 2020. This is drastically lower than the 72 percent who believe that homosexuality should be socially accepted, according to the Pew Research Center. ...

...With queer issues being increasingly prevalent in the public consciousness, it is time for our societies to acknowledge and to fight the oppression of the polyamorous community.

● If you're going to be out and proud on social media you may get some shit, but social is full of the out and proud anyway. This FFM triad posts videos about their life as @3. Mountains. They have 240,000 followers on TikTok alone. Daily Motion just published a 6-minute vid of theirs: We Got Hate Mail for Being Poly / Love Don't Judge (Nov. 15). The video comes from last year when they got themselves featured in the British tabloids.

From the Daily Motion story that goes with it:


A POLYAMOROUS THROUPLE have spoken of the backlash they've received for their relationship -- including anonymous hate letters sent to their places of work.

Maggie, 27, and Cody, 31, first met on Tinder in 2016 and got together almost immediately. Realising they were both interested in polyamory, they downloaded a dating app for non-monogamous people, hoping to find someone to have a fling with. Meanwhile, Janie, 26, had recently discovered she was bisexual and downloaded the same app in search of some fun. She soon matched with Cody and Maggie -- and the rest is history. She joked: "We were supposed to just have a casual threesome -- but then I never left."

So who sent hate mail to their employers? An offended Christian? Nope. It was a fellow queer person apparently; they denounced one of the women as not being truly queer. We've seen the three laughing about this before (see bottom of the link). So, do we really live in a world now where being insufficiently queer is supposed to get you in trouble with your boss?

●  Are asexuals queer? Whatever your answer to that, aces, like mainstream queers, often find a safe, comfortable home in polyland. In the polyamory subculture, where sex is at least theoretically an abundant rather than a scarce resource, there's less pressure on an ace person to make an intimate relationship sexual. In this way the deep platonic romance is finding, in polyland, a niche of cultural space that it hasn't had for a century. As a friend of mine in a long-term triad says, "Some people get into polyamory to have more sex. Some people get into polyamory to have less sex." Including less pressure for sex in a serious soul- and life-connection.

Canada's gay magazine Xtra just featured a horny young letter writer who hadn't thought to ask their ace love interest about the poly possibility: Should I start dating someone who is asexual even though I want to lose my virginity? (Nov. 16). Columnist Kai Cheng Thom points out,

You mention in your letter, Frustrated, that you’re not all that comfortable with the idea of an open relationship [with the ace person who could be fine with one]. You might want to consider: Why not? ...You definitely don’t have to be in an open or polyamorous relationship if it’s not right for you. But it may be helpful to consider all the options fully before dismissing them off hand. ...

●  Are Monogamous Relationships Dying Out in Favor of a New Way to Date?  So asks a headline writer at AskMen magazine ("become a better man"). The answer is no, BTW — but the headline introduces a long, pretty good Poly/CNM 101 in which we get this:

...At the same time, non-monogamy works sort of like queerness — that flexibility means it’s possible to feel at home engaging in one version of the practice that works best for you rather than trying to be in lockstep with everyone else. Also like queerness, ethical non-monogamy has spawned a host of terms describing these specific forms. ...

Again: I predict that 20 years from now when polyamory is thoroughly known, largely unstigmatized, and available in people's social circles nearly everywhere, monogamy will still be the commonest relationship style at the 80%-plus level. Just because it is the structurally simplest.1 I'll bet you a beer on that, payable in 2041.2 

●  In the polyamory world as in queerdom, it's common to remain on friendly terms with your exes, though sometimes, of course, that's impossible or just wrong; an abuser should be cut out of your life. But the poly ethic that exes can be genuine lifelong friends has been gaining more foothold in mainstream society, as in this Atlantic interview: What It’s Like to Truly Be Friends With Your Ex (online Nov. 12). It's from an Atlantic series called "The Friendship Files," in which close friends are interviewed together.

In this case it's three friends: Julie, Matt, and Read. The story proceeds far along through normalcy, then takes a turn. 

Wenjia Tang

“We can’t always neatly break things into ‘friends’ or ‘more than friends.’ There’s different kinds of love.”

...Julie: When we moved to Charlotte we got into contra dancing. Matt introduced me to it. The Charlotte contra-dance community was the best. I define community around them. Everyone takes care of each other, when you’re not asked to. Even after moving back to Denver again later, they still feel like family.

Our first polyamorous relationship came from contra dancing, but ultimately she got accepted to a college out of state, and she moved away. We were grateful, because we could feel that it needed to end, but we were able to all stay friends.

Matt: In 2013, we moved from Charlotte back to Denver [again]. We ended up buying a house, which is where Julie is interviewing from right now. Then things got really hard.

Julie: We tried to get into contra dancing in Denver, met another woman through that, and tried a second polyamorous relationship. That lasted through our breakup, and she was really great in supporting both of us.

Read: Multiple lovers, without jealousy.

Julie: [The second woman] was okay with getting into the more romantic side of the relationship. That was the first time I really was able to explore my feelings about women. That, and the need to explore spirituality in a way that Matt didn’t, were probably the two biggest reasons that I needed to leave the relationship. It took me six months to figure my thoughts out, and Matt was the most patient, wonderful partner throughout that.

He was asking a lot, “What can I do better? What have I done?” It sounds so cliché, but, really, it’s not you. It’s me. I need to figure myself out.

Matt: Which is fair. We had been together for 12 years and married for nine. Initially, it was really hard. I remember very distinctly that when Julie felt comfortable enough to open up and to ask for what she wanted, she sat down in the backyard and was sobbing.

[Interviewer]: Was the divorce process contentious or fairly amicable?

Julie: It was very amicable. It was kind of funny. When I went to the court to do the divorce, they expected me to have a lawyer and go through other people to send Matt the document. I was like “No, he’ll sign it, it’s not going to be a problem.”

[Interviewer]: So you didn’t use lawyers?

Julie: No.

Read: The DIY divorce.

Julie: In polyamory, there’s a term, compersion, that pretty much means unconditional love. If you want to be with somebody else and that makes you happy, then that makes me happy. "Allowing" is a funny word, but him allowing me to leave because he wanted me to be happy, and that would make him happy, even though being together would be better in his mind, is compersion. It’s a perfect example.

...[Interviewer]: It sounds like your post-marriage friendship has just recently started to blossom. How has it felt getting back into a deeper friendship recently?

Julie: I am extremely grateful for my wife, who is absolutely not the jealous type. Each of us has experience in polyamory and open relationships, so we don’t have to explain ourselves to each other. She is so okay with me being friends with Matt.

Julie and Matt at their wedding

Matt: I invited Julie and Mythica to come to my birthday party this year. One of my friends afterward was talking to me, and I was like, “You got to meet my ex-wife, Julie, right?” They were like, “Oh, yeah, Julie was so proud that she knew all these things about you.” We were together for 12 years—of course we know each other so deeply.

Julie: I didn’t even realize the extent of our spiritual connection until he moved back to Denver and I could feel his distress. I was texting with him every morning as we were both getting ready for work.

Matt: We still text each other “three things that you’re grateful for today.”

...There are a lot of different flavors of friendship. We can’t always neatly break things into “friends” or “more than friends.” There’s different kinds of love, and there’s different kinds of relationships that you can have with people.

If Julie needed anything, I would do everything I could to make that happen. Even when we were going through the divorce, it was like, What can I do to make this easier? I would say that Julie and I are more than friends. At this point, I categorize Julie as my sister. It’s deeper than friendship, but it’s not romantic, and it’s certainly not sexual.

Julie: My wife and I have this phrase: “Earth words suck.” There just sometimes aren’t the right words to describe the many different kinds of friendship out there.

Those are excerpts. Read the whole thing.


Elsewhere in the last few days:

● In up to 200 newspapers, advice columnist Amy Dickinson — once a dismissive poly skeptic, in recent years more receptive to what we've been telling her — fields a direct poly-mono question and gives a direct answer. Sadly, I have to agree with her. Relationship’s in trouble if values don’t align (week of Nov. 17)

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, and for the most part it has been amazing!

This is the best relationship I’ve ever had.

We’re very much in love. We have talked about marriage and one day starting our own family (he has three children, I have none).

The problem is that recently, my perspective regarding things I’ve believed all of my life has shifted. ... I no longer feel that monogamy is right for me.

...I revealed my feelings to my boyfriend during the summer and suggested an open relationship. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.... I told him I didn’t see any other way our relationship could work. It all seemed fine until he learned that I had actually slept with someone else (actually, multiple people).

It is obvious that he is hurt, even though I’ve tried to explain to him how my sexual desires for other people don’t reflect my love for him.

He says he’s fine with my choice, but he is visibly upset.

It hurts me to see him hurt, which is not fun.

I’ve started counseling and I’m trying to be patient to see if he can really do this, but is it right to keep this going, knowing that I have no intention on being monogamous, and knowing how much that hurts him?

– Open and Lost in the South

Dear Open: Let’s assume that your take on this is correct, in that your polyamorous lifestyle is devastating to your boyfriend.

Loving relationships are supposed to exist along a basically balanced axis. Partners don’t always get what they want when they want it, but ideally, they will share core values. A core value is a behavior or belief that you place at the center of your life.

Monogamy is a core value.

Polyamory is, too.

These two values are in direct conflict.

Is it fair for you to continue in a relationship where your choices hurt and diminish someone who loves you? Are you being loving and kind toward your partner?

The answer is: no.

But I point out that as always with humans, exceptions happen. Occasionally the mono person in a poly-mono couple becomes fine with it. You do meet contented poly-mono couples like this from time to time. And sometimes the poly person simply makes a choice to forego other people, for life. Possibly they even stick to that, though it sounds like the letter writer tried and failed.

●  Finally, a snippet in the Guardian that indicates how widely we are now assumed to be known: Why we should resist the urge to reinvent ourselves after so long in lockdown (Nov. 12)

We want to slip the net and open a cheese shop, or join a polyamorous collective, or throw all our money at bitcoin – but should we?

Making big decisions in the wake of trauma is not always a mistake … but in many cases it is. ...


1.   Even in poly-rich areas, you find more vees than full triads, more triads than quads, more quads than quints, and polyfamilies of six haven't even earned a special name yet. The pattern is clear: The more complex the structure, the less often it "occurs in nature." Extrapolate this trend the other way, and the couple of two will remain the most common structure of all even in a totally poly-friendly world.

The exception to this rule is the extended poly network. Network poly seems to be the commonest form today, at least in densely populated areas like mine. A large network can absorb and damp out perturbations among its links, to continue on through internal breakups, re-formations, new additions, and dropouts. A poly network is an intimate community. But within a network you almost always see, again, tighter sub-units forming: primary-ish couples, triads and quads, in that same decreasing order of abundance.

2.  Unless by 2041 we're climate refugees in a homeless camp, or fascism refugees in Norway — where, BTW, they've already asked for fleeing Americans to please come settle, especially if you've got a thing for the shipping and fishing industries. Apparently native Norwegians know enough about those to avoid them. Norway and its neighbors did recently make news as the best countries in the world in which to raise a child.

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Anonymous Richard Gilmore said...

I’ll take that bet. I think people attempting/espousing strict monogamy will be less than 80%. 😉

November 27, 2021 1:38 AM  

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