Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 25, 2022

Town expands polyamory partnership benefits. "How to be Friends with Your Lover's Lover." And why Ukraine matters for us.

●  Arlington, Mass., expands its multiple-domestic-partnership law.  Arlington's Representative Town Meeting voted May 2 to expand benefits for town employees in polyamorous or other multiple domestic partnerships, adding new sick leave, bereavement leave, and parental leave provisions. The vote was 162-68.

Arlington Town Hall, site of Town Meeting

The town also dropped the requirement that members of a multiple domestic partnership live together and share basic living expenses, and also removed its requirement that no members of a multiple domestic partnership be married to one another. Article: Domestic-partner measure passes after lengthy debate (Your Arlington, May 5).

Last year Arlington, at the behest of local polyfamilies and their supporters, voted to became the third municipality near Boston to expand registered domestic partnerships to include three or more people.

More information on these developing aspects of poly law: From Harvard Law School, "Working to offer legal protections for people in polyamorous relationships". With link to massive, 10,000-word legal backgrounder.

Want to propose such a measure for your city or town? It has to be drafted right if it's going to 1) pass scrutiny, and 2) meaningfully work for people. Contact the brains at the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC) for their expert help.

●  Words matter. Writing for the Black community, Kiarra Sylvester describes The Different Types Of Nonmonogamous Relationships (xoNicole, May 13). But there's a goof.


These days, relationships can, in fact, be customized to meet your needs.

...I especially find it fascinating that more and more Black women are seemingly opening themselves up to consensual nonmonogamy, or CNM, and not in the way that centers men, but in a way that truly honors their needs and healing journey.

Though I prefer monogamy myself, this is also because I have done the introspective work to know it is truly what I desire for where I am in my life. Meanwhile, it has my good people in a chokehold.

Here are six terms defining nonmonogamous relationship styles that I found to be curious and thought you might too.

1. Free Relationship
A free relationship is a relationship where the structure of the commitment is flexible for one reason or another, perhaps neither of you are quite sure about the relationship style yet....

2. Solo-poly
A solo-poly relationship style is simply one when you’re single or independent, but exploring intimate relationships with others. ...

3. Monogamish 
Monogamish is when a couple has a monogamous base... but the boundaries around flirtation and sexual relations provide wiggle room. ...

4. Moonlighting or Swinging
...Moonlighting is more often than not enjoying and entertaining other singles, couples, or throuples for sex and not an emotional connection. They even have clubs and events to help facilitate moonlighting, er, swinging.

As swingers, you typically play together in some capacity! It doesn’t necessarily have to be a threesome but perhaps swapping partners. But, it’s also okay for one partner to maybe just take on a more voyeur-like role while the other is more hands-on.

5. Open Relationship
An open relationship has little to no boundaries, but please hear me when I say there are still boundaries. ...

6. Polyamory
This term translates to “many loves” and is an umbrella term that can also encompass concepts such as mono-poly, vee relationships, and triads (or a throuple) – which are all also umbrella terms. Polyamory is simply the implication that you are the opposite of monogamous by one of the aforementioned definitions or another.

And that one's off-kilter. The umbrella term is consensual non-monogamy, CNM, as Sylvester says at the beginning. "Polyamory" has always meant multiple serious love relationships, carried out, by definition, "with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned." Poly relationships usually include sex but not always, and the multiple relationships tend to be more intertwined than in other forms of CNM.

In particular, polyamory carries an expectation of, at least, mutual respect and good will among everyone involved, and that everyone will, at minimum, see the others as significant persons whose well-being matters. Think metamours. Polyamory is the only category of CNM that needed to develop that word, or a word like "polycule."

Order the card – but only if it'll be appreciated.
●  Speaking of which, Vice just ran a Metamours 101How To Be Friends With Your Lover’s Lover (May 16). "Experts share tips for consensually non-monogamous people and their 'metamours.' "

The piece gives standard best advice, basically to be open and good-hearted but don't try to force things. If your meta relationship doesn't live up to your hopes and dreams, accept this, be polite, and give it the time and air it needs. 

If you're in this for the long haul, however, know that metamour relations become ever more important. Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff writes,

"For more than 20 years I have been studying polyamorous families with kids, and I have seen them face the usual difficulties that come with life – illness, economic challenges, divorce, disability, and the like. What has stood out to me about these families who remain together in long-term polycules – some of them for 60 or more years – is that the metamour relationships make or break the family over the long term."

From the Vice piece:  

By Romano Santos

...“We are socially conditioned not to share intimacy with anyone other than our partners,” said Zayna Ratty, a United Kingdom-based psychotherapist. “When challenging this internalized rationale, we can begin to see that this brings both challenges and possible joys to the table.”

Every consensually non-monogamous relationship is different, so every person’s relationship with their metamours can be different, too. But why would anybody want to be friends with their lover’s lovers?

“If your partner likes them, chances are you’re going to, too,” said Lori Beth Bisbey, a psychologist and gender, sex, relationship, and diversity therapist, also based in the UK. This means there’s a good chance that you share the same interests with your metamours—like a friend who’s already been pre-screened for you. 

According to Bisbey, if you’re in a healthy consensually non-monogamous relationship with clear boundaries, then making friends with your metamours could mean more support when times are difficult with the partner you share. They’re an addition to your chosen family, with whom you can share life’s highs and lows. 

So how do you turn metamours into friends? 

“The first thing you need to do is have a look at your monogamy hangover,” said Bisbey. ... In particular, thinking that anybody else your partner is dating is automatically competition. Make sure you’re ready to look at your metamour as a friend, family member, supporter, and ally, rather than someone who would take your partner away. 

If that’s the case, the next step is to allow the friendship to form organically. “Don’t force it. Don’t come with the idea that just because your partner is with them, immediately you need to be best friends,” warned Bisbey, as that could be overwhelming.

In other words, don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s not all that different from having other friends. ...

...It’s also important to figure out the specific mechanics of your relationship with your metamours. What exactly do you want? What do they want? Some people want to be friends with their lover’s lover, but don’t exactly want a separate relationship with them. They might call that metamour when there’s an emergency with their shared partner, but don’t necessarily want that metamour as a friend just for themselves. 

The shared partner can help, too. They can make everyone feel secure in the relationship, to avoid resentment or jealousy from everyone involved. 

What if your metamour doesn’t want to be friends?

If your metamour doesn’t want a relationship with you, accept that. Some people just aren’t interested in having more people in their lives. Bisbey said that some people in consensually non-monogamous relationships enjoy having more alone time, which is part of why they’re OK with their partners seeing other people. Meanwhile, others might be cordial with their metamours, but don’t exactly want to be friends. Some people in consensually non-monogamous relationships negotiate this, said Bisbey, but it’s best not to force it. 

...If you find that you’re not ready to be friends with your lover’s lover, own it. Communicate your feelings well so you’re not cutting off the possibility of a relationship in the future. Try to say these things in such a way that the metamour doesn’t feel bad, either.

In other words, keep an open mind. You can be friends with your lover’s lovers, but you don’t have to be. You might not be friends with them right now, but you might be one day. ...

“The polyamory model that you may have discussed with each other to begin with may not be the one you end up with,” said Ratty. “Every relationship has to evolve, so asking and learning as you go along is key.” 

●  On Hypebae: Breakups hurt, but poly breakups hit different (May 17). "The side of polyamory people don’t tell you about." By Gigi Fong.

Every December dating sites submit their trend predictions for the upcoming year, and this year, ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory, was the center of attention. Even several news outlets referred to it as “the future.” As a polyamorous individual, I scoffed and rolled my eyes not realizing I [felt] slighted because I was coming off the tailwinds of my very own toxic, poly drama.

I was a 21 year old college student when realized I was interested in polyamory. ... My soul tribe, as I like to call it, is an inclusive community of like-minded individuals that are sex-positive, queer or allied. I knew my anxious attachment style and past trauma would make this challenging so I sought extra support from my therapist. Within no time, I knew it was the right match for me. But like I intuitively felt, I was in for a whirlwind of toxicity.

Here’s what I learned in my tumultuous introduction to polyamory through the lens of my breakups....

The subsection titles of the article are

Sexual scripts and boundary-less fun.
Balancing queer and straight relationships.
The feeling of failure.

...It took me a while to realize that I was simply learning lessons that every 20-something would come to learn in their own time. Polyamory is a form of connection with endless, beautiful possibilities and it helped mold me into a mature adult. But it can also trigger toxicity and the most underdeveloped sides of you. ... It truly does take a certain level of maturity, trust and communication to succeed at polyamory.

We all learn from experience, but smart people learn from other people's experience.

●  Here, a very primary gay couple open to having secondaries after internal struggle. Nothing unusual here, and prospective secondaries should take warning  but this author has an eye and ear for depths. Worth a read. ‘What if he finds someone better?’: the agony and the ecstasy of an open relationship. (The Observer/Guardian, May 22). By Tom Rasmussen.

Alex Lake/The Observer
...And for that day, everything appeared blissfully normal. But normality can be suffocating. On the way home, in the car, we broke: “Oh my God that was so normal we can’t cope.” So we checked ourselves into a cheap hotel that night, halfway between London and the Cotswolds, got absolutely hammered and defined the rules of our new setup. And at that point, there were no rules. Just communication. ...

...The second person I had sex with approached me in a bar and described what he wanted to do to me. I’d never felt a turn-on like it. Not that I’m not turned on by my partner – because various types of desire, of turn-on, are not mutually exclusive. Desire, as I’m learning, exists on various planes, in various spaces. Herein lay a huge learning curve: in an open relationship, you begin to experience totally varied and different types of desire to the type of desire you feel in a monogamous setup.

...“It’s easier for queer couples,” a heterosexual friend told me, after I told her. And I think, for countless reasons, this is true: like the fact the centre still sees our relationships as fringe; the fact that sex for a lot of queer people is a mode of finding community, touch and family; the fact that we were kept out of normative conventions of relationships until a brutally recent seven years ago. But, at the same time, there is still the same fear, the same worry, the same risk of loss. So easier feels like too easy a word. Perhaps more accepted.

...And, yes, with every new partner ... I’ve experienced the rush of the new. But the rush of the new spills over into my primary partnership, too: new dynamics form, each scenario brings with it something for us to negotiate, and our sex is more adventurous than ever: perhaps because we learned new moves elsewhere or perhaps because we have a reinvigorated sense of desire for each other knowing that someone, elsewhere, has found this body in front of you desirable in new ways, too.

●  More TV:

     – Conversations With Friends, adapted from Sally Rooney's novel and now playing on Hulu, may seem like polyamory but don't be misled, says Gabrielle Smith in Glamour magazine: Reminder: 'Conversations With Friends' Is Not a Show About Polyamory (May 16)

The cast. They don't look happy.

It's understandable why folks would interpret the relationship between the characters as polyamorous as opposed to cheating. ... In many ways, the four of them resemble a subset of polyamory called kitchen table polyamory, where partners are comfortable enough to spend time together sharing a meal, going on group outings, or even taking trips together.

What makes Nick and Frances’s relationship distinctively not polyamorous is the mindset. Polyamorous relationships require disclosure, boundary setting, and a commitment to some sort of relational equity. ...

     – Remember that reality show "Open House: The Great Sex Experiment" on the UK's Channel 4?  Its six episodes, filming couples trying consensual non-monogamy at a swinging retreat, closed on a down note: 'Open House: The Great Sex Experiment' ends in chaos as drunk participant tussled with security then tried to drive home (The Sun, May 20.) Typical aggrieved baby-guy stuff with threat of violence; the story is only mildly popcorn-worthy.

●  On a more global perspective: Among non-Western societies, India seems to be the one where modern egalitarian polyamory seems to have taken the strongest root, as I've reported many times before (pardon some dropped pix). Newly in is How Polyamory is Helping Young Indians Discard Ideas of Finding 'The One' (The Quint, May 15)

By Hazel Gandhi

Bollywood has taught most Indians how to love – right from spontaneous declarations to unrealistic expectations of achievement of a ‘happily ever after’. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that most of what we know about love stems from Bollywood, including the idea of finding “the one”.

Bollywood rides on the do jism ek jaan narrative even today to fuel its overly romanticised version of how relationships are. While real-life monogamous relationships might [now] have a lot more individuality, there is still a very strict boundary when it comes to “sharing” your partner.

The Quint spoke to four young Indians who are changing this narrative and embracing the idea of ethical non-monogamy by practising polyamory. It's a practice that involves engaging with multiple romantic partners, and strongly advocates the idea of open communication and transparency to make the relationship work. ....


And on the larger stage. . . 

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside their worldview, we expose its incompletenesses. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all.

People and communities who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their own way — by intimidation, repressive laws, inflammatory falsehoods and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations, vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)


But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes. And not just because we're witnessing these people's 1776.

The coming times are going to require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.
Another version.

More, you want? Just some guys near Kharkiv the other day helping to hold onto a free and open society, a shrinking thing in the world. (The grenade seems to have saved them.) Maybe your granddad did this a few yards from Hitler's troops.

Bravery takes other forms too. For instance. And this. Or cartoon animator Oleg Kuvaev. His Masyanya was a popular family series in Russia for years, South Park style. Then, after the start of the war in February, came Episode 160. The raucous, oval-headed mom dumps the "no politics" rule ("So this is the result of your No Politics!" says her partner. "It's our fault.") and toward the end she barges in and offers Putin a hara-kiri sword to solve his problems. No spoilers. English subtitles. Kuvaev is overseas, the series remains up via overseas backups, and Russian authorities have implied they will hunt down the backups and wipe them. Don't drink any polonium, guy.

Remember, these people say they're doing it for us too. They are correct. The situation is going to get worse before it gets better. The global contest for the future that's shaping up, including in our own country, is still in its early stages (start at the 3rd paragraph there).  The outcome is uncertain, and it will determine the 21st century and the handling of all its other problems.


BTW, it's safer to say a thing if people around you say it too. What the audience here is chanting in St. Petersburg a few days ago is Khuy voinyeh, "Fuck the war," potentially worth a 15-year prison sentence.


Some person in that crowd started it. Maybe you can be a first mover too. Or the first reactor to a first mover, just as crucial. When the moment appears, remember not to flinch. We'll have a better idea after the election. Whatever else you do, vote.

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May 17, 2022

Washington Post: For the wedding season, "How polyamorous people are marking commitment to multiple partners"

Just out at the Washington Post: How polyamorous people are marking commitment to multiple partners (May 16, print and online). Because it's spring wedding season.

"Polyamory is going mainstream," comments Michael Rios, who sent me the link. "This is from the Lifestyle section, and reads almost like talking about the latest in diet trends or evening wear."

María Alconada Brooks / Washington Post

By Suzannah Weiss

Sarah Brylinsky, a 34-year-old working in higher education in Ithaca, N.Y., is legally married to 36-year-old farm manager Brandon Brylinsky. Two years ago, on a camping trip a decade into their relationship, they met 35-year-old Matte Namer, the founder of a real estate firm.

All three of them fell in love.

The Brylinskys and Namer are polyamorous, which means they are open to romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. They started going on dates together, and soon after, Namer moved in with the Brylinskys. Now, the three plan to have a child, and they want to make their relationship official so that they can be recognized by their community as a family.

But how do you make a relationship official when there are three people in it?

Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy — when people have more than one sexual or romantic partner at once with all partners’ permission. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology found that one in nine single American adults had engaged in polyamory.

In legal terms, polyamorous people are unable to marry all their of partners: It is illegal throughout the United States to marry more than one person at a time. Somerville, Mass., is thought to be the first U.S. city to legally recognize polyamorous domestic partnerships, which it started doing in 2020.

However, people like Namer and the Brylinskys are utilizing an option that symbolically, though not legally, binds all three of them: a commitment ceremony.

Commitment ceremonies are events that celebrate any number of people’s commitment to one another, and they can look many different ways, according to Connecticut-based marriage and family therapist Kristen C. Dew.

She’s seen some that “resemble the typical monogamous couples’ weddings,” she said, while others are parties or outdoor gatherings. She also said that “many opt for handfasting ceremonies,” or choose unique items as symbols of their love.

The ceremony that Namer and the Brylinskys are planning will be similar to a wedding. They’re discarding some traditions: They’ll have a cookie table instead of a cake, for example. But they will all make vows to one another. In addition, the Brylinskys will create a joint vow just for Namer, and vice versa, they said.

“We met Matte as a couple; there was a relationship that came before them, and it’s both important to establish that we made a family together and to acknowledge that we transitioned our existing relationship to make room for that,” Sarah said.

Ambyr D’Amato, a wedding planner based in New York, is helping to plan this ceremony. She said she has worked with several other polyamorous people on commitment ceremonies: In one of them, a couple that was already married waited at the end of the aisle, and the third person walked down the aisle to symbolically join them.

“It was important to [the third person], since they were not legally married to anybody, that they had a ceremony where they could involve their family and have things be more in the open,” D’Amato said. The event took place in Central Park, she added, replete with flowers, champagne, oysters and live music.

...Rachael, a 37-year-old writer, and Tom, a 36-year-old tech adviser — both based in Santa Barbara, Calif. — were legally married for financial and logistical reasons in 2015, but they publicly became each other’s spouses during a commitment ceremony on the lawn of the Santa Barbara courthouse six months earlier. ...

[They] said they are non-monogamous and are open to committing themselves to an additional partner. Part of the reason they joined through a commitment ceremony is so that, if they do decide to hold another one with a third person, all three of them will be on the same footing, they said.

...Jessica Fern, a Boulder-based psychotherapist who works with polyamorous people, touted the potential benefits of ceremonies like this.

“When someone experiences legal marginalization for their relationship structure or style, commitment ceremonies can go a long way to deepen a relationship, publicly acknowledge its significance, and even assuage some of the pain and injustice that being a minority can create,” she said.

Fern’s clients who have undergone commitment ceremonies have reported feeling more secure in their relationships as a result, she said: “They have more of a structure that they can rely on that’s bigger than just them. They can lean on each other in hard times, like, ‘I made this commitment.’ ”

But many non-monogamous people say they don’t feel safe holding an event as public as a commitment ceremony, because of existing stigma. And while those in polyamorous relationships can work with lawyers to secure certain legal protections (Namer and the Brylinskys are working with the Chosen Family Law Center to ensure they all have equal status as parents of their future child), a commitment ceremony does not confer the same rights as a legal wedding.

Some non-monogamous people hope that this will change in the future. “We have the right to be with our loved ones and share the resources that we would normally get to share in a monogamous context,” Fern said. ...

Read the whole article.

●  Want more poly ceremony examples and ideas? Start at Offbeat Bride with its 44 articles featuring 44 polyamorous commitment ceremonies. All with gorgeous photography.

●  And for fixing up important legal stuff you may need as committed unmarrieds, check with the Chosen Family Law Center for information and referrals.


Back 14 years ago when the polyamorous possibility was still little known, the same Style section of the Post ran a groundbreaking feature article on the annual Poly Living convention, which I attended. The reporter they sent was sharp, brilliant, accurate, and knew how to pry critically without scaring her subjects off. They recognized a coming story when they saw it.

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May 13, 2022

The polyamory model opens lives for non-poly people. Plus new novels, TV, theater, an Irish activist, and other poly in the news

The polyamory movement is making waves apart from sexual and romantic openness. We model how intimate partners can break rigid social assumptions and strictures about what is a "real relationship", so that they can design one of their own. One that fits, that lets them breathe and thrive.

Sometimes our model shows monogamous couples how they can take better charge of their own path as just two. Especially, we read, older couples with kids grown and gone.

This piece in The Observer / Guardian touches on poly only as a model for the main topic: long-term partners discovering ways out of unspoken models that can kill relationships: Nifty ways to leave a lover (temporarily) – how a gap year could save your marriage (April 23).

By Lucy Cavendish

Is life with your spouse stale and limiting? Maybe, instead of a divorce, all you need is a few months apart.

...They were in their mid-50s and they told me they had been married for more than 30 years. They loved each other. They had a marriage that had survived the ups and downs of most unions. They had three children all of whom had left home. Yet they were looking at a future together with apprehension. They didn’t want to divorce, they just wanted to work out how to stay together while also being apart. The wife was a homebody.... The husband had rediscovered an adventurous side in himself that had lain dormant for a couple of decades.

What they were proposing was a marriage gap year.

“I’m a doctor,” the husband told me. “I just want to experience something different.” His intention was to go and spend a year working as a volunteer in Malawi.

...His wife, understandably, was nervous about it. “I don’t want to go to Africa,” she said. However she also did understand how important it felt to her husband. “I love him so I don’t want to stop him from having this year out,” she said.

...But, in reality, how does this work? It’s not easy to explain to your long-term partner that you want to take a break.

As a counsellor I find this fascinating. ...

...My gap-year couple agreed that sex with other people was off the agenda. ... But for some people it is also about having different sexual experiences. ... My friend’s sister and her husband agreed they would be free to date and have intimate relationships with other people. ... She had a fabulous two years travelling the world and taking lovers, then came home and the marriage continued. “It’s better than ever now,” she said. “I feel settled. I’ve done my thing and now I am home and I’m happy to be here.”

Younger couples are far more au fait with this sort of thing – polyamory and “ethical non-monogamy” appear to be growing in popularity – but it’s a whole new game for my generation of forty- to fifty-somethings. ... We were brought up to believe in The One. And in... a kind of stoicism. Young people don’t see it like this. They can have very strong prime relationships that are open and communicative and connected while also having relationships with other people. They have a completely different working model. ...

For older couples, it is not easy.

...For most it’s about relocating for a while, working at a different job, volunteering. ... The marriage or relationship can even be enhanced as the couple involve each other in hearing about these new adventures – bonding them more securely.

My original couple ended up being excited at the prospect of the gap year. “I can’t wait to wake up in the African sun,” the man said, “and then I’ll come home to suburbia and begin again.” ...

Read the whole article.

Lots of poly arts and culture items have popped up in the last couple weeks: novels, plays, news of TV series. For instance, 

More poly in Young Adult fiction. I recently linked to Why Not Both? 8 [YA] Books With Love Triangles That End In Polyamory and The State of Polyamory in YA Fiction; both appeared on BookRiot. Here's more, from the University of Utah's independent student newspaper The Daily Utah Chronicle: Healthy Depictions of Non-Monogamous Relationships in Books (May 1).

“Endless Love” (Fredrik Kleppe / WBUR)

By Whit Fuller

...When the subject of non-monogamy first appeared to me in literature, it came in the form of Gabby Rivera’s young adult novel Juliet Takes A Breath. Protagonist Juliet learns of non-monogamous relationships during her internship with feminist author Harlowe Brisbane. Brisbane and her primary partner Maxine have a conversation with Juliet about their relationship structure and introduce her to the concept of hierarchical polyamory. Rivera’s novel explores the concept of consensual non-monogamous relationships honestly and through intersectional feminist lenses that discuss the importance of acknowledging and understanding connections formed in polyamorous relationships with interracial dynamics.

In reading Mary McCoy’s Indestructible Object, I [saw how] books can involve polyamory without centering it in their narratives. McCoy explores relationship dynamics through main character Lee and her boyfriend Vincent. There are moments of discomfort and betrayal, but the book culminates in a moment of growth and an understanding that loving multiple people doesn’t make one flawed, but allows the indestructible object of the heart, as McCoy wrote about it, to keep beating and loving in its own time. ...

...To see young adult literature engaging with non-monogamous relationships amid self-discovery and coming of age is particularly powerful....

Appearing on TV (spoilers ahead):

  S.W.A.T. is a police action series on CBS. From Movieweb comes S.W.A.T.: How the CBS Police Drama Explores Polyamory with Respect and Grace (April 27).

By Kassie King

One of the main cast of characters is fan-favorite Officer Christina "Chris" Alsonso, the only woman SWAT member in the department and a total badass. ... In addition to having superior tactical skills and a delightfully sardonic personality, Chris is also openly bisexual. ... In seasons 2 and 3 as she and the show itself explore a subject matter that is still somewhat taboo for primetime television police procedurals: a polyamorous relationship. And it wasn’t a joke. Or a disaster.

Kira, Chris, Ty

In early season 2, it's revealed that Chris has begun dating a woman named Kira, who admits that she is engaged to a man and that they practice polyamory. The couple is looking for a third person to join their relationship as an equal partner — colloquially known as a "throuple." Chris declines at first... but soon realizes how deep her feelings for Kira are and decides that she’s interested in meeting her fiancé Ty and exploring the possibility of a relationship. ... Chris looks to Street for some guidance before making the leap, and he thoughtfully suggests, “Who knows? They could be the loves of your life. You should just do what you want to do. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

...Since she doesn't fully understand the dynamics of polyamory yet, we as viewers are able to learn about it alongside her. S.W.A.T. does an excellent job bringing us inside this new experience, rather than presenting viewers with something they might not understand and expecting them to just get on board with it. ...

Ty and Kira explain some of their "we rules,” which focus primarily on open communication. They tell her, “This only works if we all feel secure and valued.” One of Chris' major concerns is that the relationship won’t remain equal between the three of them because Ty and Kira are getting married. Chris confides in her only married teammate, Deacon (Jay Harrington), [who] warns her, “That couple is in a relationship that predates you. They’re getting married, and you’re not part of that marriage, no matter how they try to sell it to you. I think you’re setting yourself up for heartache.” Despite her fear, Chris moves forward with the relationship and eventually accepts Ty and Kira’s offer to move in with them.

Although some of Chris' teammates seem concerned about this new development in her life, it is always treated as a worry that she will be heart-broken due to the complicated nature of the relationship, rather than a disdain for polyamory itself. In fact, the only significant pushback within the narrative comes from Annie (Bre Blair), Deacon’s wife. The couple’s daughter Lila asks Chris about Ty and Kira, and she tries to explain to the little girl that it’s okay to love more than one person. This conversation upsets Annie, and she tells Chris that she doesn't believe polyamory is moral, nor does she want her kids to grow up thinking that it is.

...Although this confrontation was heartbreaking for Chris, and for viewers who care about the story, it was important for S.W.A.T. to portray an opposing viewpoint. Public contempt, especially from loved ones, is a realistic complication that people who practice polyamory have to deal with in the real world. 

...Although the relationship between Chris, Kira, and Ty did eventually end, S.W.A.T. never treated it as a silly plot device or something taboo that was just presented to be criticized. Instead, the show explored the real dynamics of polyamory, the complexity of the emotions involved, and the external pushback that can arise, all with the same attention and grace they would have given any other relationship on the show. ...

●  Also: 90 Day Fiance: Love in Paradise. From Showbiz CheatSheet, May 5: "The new season features two new LGBTQ couples, including the franchise’s first triad (a polyamorous relationship consisting of three people)."  It's on TLC. 

●  Afterglow, a queer poly play. I just posted about Fiveplay, a new theater piece about a rollicking queer poly household that recently ran in DC. Now the better-established play Afterglow has opened in the Los Angeles area. West Hollywood's WEHOville reviews it and interviews the writer/director: ‘Afterglow’ explores the naked truth of open relationships (May 5).

By Brandon Garcia

S. Asher Gelman gets letters from people who said seeing “Afterglow” led to the end of their relationships.

“That is fantastic,” the writer/director says. 

“It’s a fantastic thing that you were able to communicate effectively. We are so primed to consider that the worst thing in the world is to be alone. That’s not true. The worst thing in the world is to be with the wrong person.”

S. Asher Gelman

Five years ago, “Afterglow” took the off-Broadway world by storm with its frank depiction of an open gay relationship and its generous helping of on-stage, full-frontal male nudity. The tiny off-Broadway production was only supposed to run for about eight weeks. Instead, it blew up, ran for 14 months and spun off productions all over the world. ...

While the show makes headlines for its fearless erotic flair, “Afterglow” exerts its true power after the curtain closes, raising taboo questions and inspiring tough conversations in the minds of its audience.

“I think it really paints a real picture of what relationships actually are. We have a very romanticized version of what relationships are and it’s unrealistic and these characters get into the grip of it all,” [Gelman] said.

The tale of two men who embark on a polyamorous relationship with a third was drawn from the writer/director’s real-life experiences. 

...He has found peace and satisfaction in the romantic paradigm depicted in the play – but the road to happy polyamory was not without its perils. ...

“I wrote this play because I realized I had done something wrong but I couldn’t figure out what. So I essentially used the play to troubleshoot what I always thought the ‘crime’ that I committed was — allowing myself to fall in love with someone else — which is actually not true. The crime that I committed was that I was not being completely honest with everybody and just thinking that if I fudge the truth a bit, it’ll all work out. Of course my dishonesty thinking that I was being so good about everything by telling everybody 90 percent of the truth, it was awful and caused a lot of pain. ... 

“Being honest and forthcoming with everybody about boundaries and wants and needs is just the most freeing thing,” he said. “When there’s nothing to hide it’s kind of amazing what you can do.”


●  In Ireland, the major newspaper Independent.ie spotlights therapist Ruth Crean, a member of the parade-marching Polyamory Ireland: ‘There’s a perception that polyamorous people are highly sexed, which I find really annoying’ (April 12).

Ruth Crean (Eamon Ward photo)

I was always a little bit different. When I was a teenager, I was the person who was trawling second-hand shops and wearing the things that made me feel good about being myself. My mum was great. I remember someone saying to her, ‘How do you let her dress that way?’ And she just said, ‘Because they’re expressing themselves. Why would I stop that?’

So from a young age I had support around expressing myself. But that took longer to filter through to other things. Relationship-wise, I was really steeped in that rom-com idea that one person fulfills you. Like you could have happiness and success, but if you were alone then something was missing in your life. ...

It's paywalled after that, but Ireland's NewsTalk followed up a day later interviewing Crean for radio: Polyamory: 'It's more about an expanded sense of what a relationship can be' 

There is a common misconception that polyamory is all about having as much sex as you can, with as many people as you can.

Ruth Crean, psychotherapist and a member of Polyamory Ireland joined Sean on the show to dispel that myth....

●  From Israel: 'Polyamory is playing with fire': Israeli couples' navigation of non-monogamy. Originally published in Maariv. Here it's in English on YnetNews, April 23. The title sounds dire, but the article is upbeat.

...Keren [left photo above, with Shavit] started researching polyamory online. "I suddenly discovered that there was such a thing as polyamory, whereby being married, I could go out on dates, feel excited and fall in love – I could have my cake and eat it," she says with a smile.

Shavit, 37, sensing changes in Keren, told himself that this was a passing phase of post-natal depression. "I remember her feeling that something was missing. Things weren't right for about two years. She was looking everywhere for some kind of freedom. She started writing Facebook posts, expressing support in non-monogamy. Anyone reading these postings assumed that we were in an open relationship and I wasn't there, not even in my mind.

I asked her to remove the Facebook posts and I didn't ask nicely," he admits. "I now understand that for quite a long time, I'd been feeling everything that Keren was talking about... but at the time it was the cause of a lot of friction between us." 
Tell us a little about the process you went through. ...

BTW, yes: Carelessness with poly can indeed be like being careless with fire. But we've learned how to use fire. You probably have a stove in your kitchen, a furnace in your basement, and gasoline in your car. If a religious outfit tried to frighten you into rejecting those things, you would know they had an ulterior motive that was not about your well-being.

●  And, the latest from the British tabloids: WHO'S THE DADDY? We don’t know who our kids’ fathers are – our unusual family dynamic may surprise you. (in The Sun May 6, and many other outlets since).

They're a quad with adorable pix.

Sean, Taya, Alysia, and Tyler with their two older kids. The dads are giving early kisses to the next two, who were still on the way.

Romantic, yes. However, the learned-by-experience advice that you will hear in the poly community — the topic comes up fairly often — is that it's a bad idea to not find out who the bio dad is. If there's any uncertainty you should arrange for DNA tests at the time of birth.

Why? Several reasons.

First and foremost, for the kid. Their genetic lineage could have vital medical relevance, maybe not until years from now. And, the kid will likely want to know which dad is the bio dad as they get older, and it is wrong to withhold it or prevent them from finding out. The grandparents (or non-grandparents) will almost certainly want to know and could make trouble in court; it happens. And if you ever break up, the kid deserves proper legal access to support.

The advice you will hear is do the test now, while you're all together and in love, rather than later when you may be broken up, and maybe on bad terms or unable to find each other.

Another reason, from my own observation of quads with kids. The child's bio dad will become pretty clear anyway, especially if the dads don't look alike. But this will happen gradually. Everyone will slowly see and slowly know. But if no one is supposed to talk about it, it'll always be an elephant in the room. Room elephants damage relationships, families, and children.

If you are romantic enough that you really don't want to know, do the tests and put the unopened results envelope in a safe-deposit box or on file in a lawyer's office. That way, you'll have it when the time comes.



We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society, because by living outside their worldview successfully, we expose its incompleteness. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the ability to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all. 

People and communities who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their own way — by intimidation, repressive laws, propaganda and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)

But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes.

The coming times are going to require tough things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we are born into. But we do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

PS: Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.
Another version.

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