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

December 3, 2016

"Compersion" webseries fundraises for a second season

Jackie Stone
If you haven't seen the webseries Compersion, produced by director Jackie Stone and her outfit Enchant TV, you've been missing something. It's a family drama about a couple exploring polyamory. Season 1 has finished successfully, with 13 episodes of about 10 minutes each, and they're fundraising for a Season 2.

Longtime California polyactivist Pepper Mint posts this on the Polyamory Leadership Network:

Compersion is a black-and-poly webseries that recently finished up its first season. You can watch it here.

It's actually my favorite poly web series so far. There are certainly painful moments in it, but they are painful to me specifically because they so accurately reflect the transition into polyamory. And the acting is great, and the cinematography is good. It's a winner and great exposure for us.

I'm writing because they're holding a fundraiser for the second season, and it's a real one. No funds means no second season.

We've seen a number of web series go down due to lack of funding: Family and The Ethical Slut come to mind. I'd prefer not to have that happen again.

While this series hasn't seen a lot of exposure in the mainstream poly community, it's all over the black-and-poly communities. I'm in contact with the producer, Jackie Stone, and she also has a close relationship with Ron Young, as you can see in the videos. She's getting input from poly folks and looking to do a really positive piece for the community.

I've just contributed. If y'all can either give money or spread this around, you're helping with a poly media win, and really helping out black and poly people. Please and thank you.

Pepper's endorsement works for me. I've chipped in.

Episode 1 of Season 1: Just watch it.

● ShadowandAct.com interviewed Stone: A Provocative New Digital Series About Polyamory from Enchant TV (Oct. 26, 2016).

...Realistic in its depictions of an adult relationship at a crossroads, “Compersion” is a compelling, deliberately-paced psychodrama – moody, but certainly not without wit. It’s a satisfying achievement for the filmmaker, made for an audience that appreciates, is challenged by, or is curious about its provocative, if bold subject matter, which is emblematic of the kind of storytelling that Stone plans to bring to Enchant TV.

Stone, whose past scripts have garnered attention and awards, including Jerome Foundation and IFP Project Involve Fellow honors, says her vision for Enchant TV is to make it a home for dynamic and creative programming that highlights the complexities, as well as the rich and diverse stories of people of color, particularly women.

“As an artist, one of my objectives in television and film is to develop spaces and an aesthetic that will serve as ‘homeplace’ for women of the African Diaspora,” Stone says....

● Stone is a guest on the podcast Directing Magic (Sept. 18, 2016).

● And on the Polychat podcast (Episode 35, Nov. 22, 2016).


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December 2, 2016

"What if we thought of monogamy as a spectrum?"

Zachary Zane, a writer on bi and poly topics, gets another thoughtful piece into the Washington Post or at least its website:

What if we thought of monogamy as a spectrum?

By Zachary Zane

...That’s when I learned that I didn’t have to like men and women equally to be bisexual. I learned that sexuality was a spectrum, and my point on the spectrum wasn’t fixed. My attractions to various genders could evolve. In fact, it’s completely normal, and even somewhat expected that my attractions to all genders change over my lifetime.

In my queer theory class in college, I also learned that gender, too, is on a spectrum. Some of us don’t view ourselves as strictly male or female. We can be both, neither, or somewhere in between, a.k.a. bigender, agender or genderqueer.

This led me to ask the question: Since sexuality and gender aren’t living in a binary anymore, does monogamy have to be?

...YouGov recently conducted a study testing the idea of a monogamy spectrum. YouGov asked respondents questions using a seven-point spectrum (0-6), like the Kinsey scale. A zero on the YouGov scale indicated completely monogamous, whereas a six on the scale indicated completely non-monogamous. The researchers asked participants about their ideal relationship style, and their current relationship style.

Interestingly, only 51 percent of people under 30 reported that their ideal relationship would be completely monogamous, compared with 58 percent ages 30 to 44, 63 percent of individuals 45 to 64, and 70 percent of individuals 65 and older.

(Click for larger view)

The study revealed two important findings. First, millennials like myself are less interested in monogamy than our elders are. Second, millennials don’t view monogamy as all or nothing. ... And even though we were brought up in a society that aggressively pushed a monogamous agenda — teaching us that our goal in life is to find our One True Love — we’ve begun to reject this notion.

...Many millennials also have embraced the true meaning of feminism, and neither men nor women want to be limited by traditional gender roles. Monogamy often perpetuates traditional gender roles, whereas a non-monogamous relationship more often doesn’t have the same prescribed script as monogamy. This allows for individuals in non-monogamous relationships to create the roles for themselves as they see fit.

...Partners will have to discuss and decide together. ...

This is what poly activists all along have been trying to insert into mainstream relationship culture. Relationship choice. Instead of assuming that monogamy "goes without saying" as we were raised to assume, discuss your needs and expectations when a relationship starts to look serious. And if non-monogamy is what you want, exactly what kind do you mean?

Couples getting serious didn't used to think they needed to find out whether they both wanted children, or would both follow the same religion, or other important things they were taught "go without saying." To their lasting misery.

America's divorce rate has declined in recent years, after the marriage rate plummeted over the last 45 years (source). The modern ethos of discussing important compatibility issues before marrying is surely part of the reason why. Add mono vs. poly to the list of things to discuss.

The whole article (December 1, 2016).



December 1, 2016

"How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts"

Diana Adams (center), longtime polyactivist and head of a law practice for nontraditional families, posts,

"I did an interview with Vice on how kinky, poly, trans and other nontraditional parents face child custody challenges in Family Courts based on subjective standards that give tremendous leeway to a judge's hidden bias. I got to give my caution about Fetlife profiles and similar online presence if you may have a child custody conflict with your child's other parent."

The story just came out. Plan ahead.

How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts

By Neil McArthur

American family courts — a series of state courts that specifically deal in family law, from child custody cases to divorce proceedings — are a distinctly unsung part of our judicial system. They are rarely discussed in the media and largely absent from the Hollywood spotlight; as a result, few people understand how they work.

But if you are a parent involved in a case subject to their rule, you could easily find yourself at the mercy of a judge with broad power to decide how much, if at all, you get to see your children. Family courts lack juries, so such decisions are delivered from the pen of a sole person. And the system does not treat everyone equally. According to numerous legal practitioners and scholars I spoke to, a widespread bias exists within the system against parents whose views or lifestyles fall outside the American norm, especially sexually.

..."I can predict the likelihood of my success by zip code," said Diana Adams, a family lawyer from New York who has spent the last decade working with clients who are LGBTQ, polyamorous, kinky, or otherwise outside the mainstream. Because family court judges are elected by direct vote in many states, their tolerance of alternative lifestyles tends to correlate with that of the surrounding area. She represents clients in both New York City and more conservative areas of upstate New York, and says that the weight of a parent's sex life upon a judge's decision varies wildly from judge to judge, depending on their political views. She also provides advice to clients out of state, and has noticed a pattern: For clients like hers, Southern and rural areas are unforgiving places for cases to come before family court judges.

When the Supreme Court declared in Lawrence v. Texas that state laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional, it also ruled that states cannot establish laws based purely on the moral disapproval of lawmakers. But as legal scholars have noted, those who come before family courts lack the constitutional protections that apply to criminal cases, in which the discretion of an individual judge is limited and juries are involved.

Though most states now prohibit judges from using sexual orientation as a factor in family court rulings, judges are still free to cite a parent's polyamorous or kinky proclivities — or even a willingness to have non-marital sex — as an explicit reason for handing down rulings. In any case, family court judges are often not explicit about the exact factors that lead to their rulings. Adams recounted one case in which a family court removed a child from the custody of a transgender client, ostensibly because her client's cat was sick the day a child services worker visited and vomit was seen on the floor. But Adams said that "a white cisgender professional mother like me would never lose custody of her child because a sick cat made a mess."...

...Though experts said the attitudes of family court judges are slowly improving from decades past, non-traditional parents increasingly face other types of challenges; Andrew Gilden, a professor at the Willamette University College of Law, worries that people are creating detailed trails of evidence to be used against them in family courts on their phones and personal computers. Adams's experience confirms that fear: She said she's seen many internet dating and Fetlife (a kink-focused social network) profiles introduced in court. ...

Neil McArthur is the director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at University of Manitoba, where his work focuses on sexual ethics and the philosophy of sexuality.

Read the whole article (November 30, 2016).

Bottom line: If there's a chance that a hostile ex or family member might ever go after you or your kids, run a model home and keep your sex life off your phone and the internet.

● Further tips from the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund: Do's and Don't's to Avoid Custody Challenges. So often, when a poly parent gets into a custody case, there's some stupid-in-retrospect thing that, while irrelevant to whether they're a good parent, gives free distraction-ammunition to the other side.

● From the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF):

    – Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles
    – Guidelines for Custody Cases
    – A guide to what to do if someone calls Child Protective Services on you


P. S.  Diana was also quoted today about triad finances, in a Bloomberg Businessweek story How Couples Do Money. At the end is a section titled "How Throuples Do Money":

Not every relationship involves only two people. Diana Adams runs a law firm in New York that specializes in legal and financial planning for nontraditional families, including three-person “throuples,” or “triad” relationships.

Businessweek: This field seems pretty specialized. How new is it?

Adams: Very. We saw a need—particularly in the community of people who are polyamorous and people who are doing platonic co-parenting, such as a gay male couple co-parenting with a single female friend. They’ve been around since the 1970s, but in the last 10 years we’ve seen their numbers skyrocket.

...BW: When a throuple comes to you, what are the most pressing financial issues?

A: If [a] primary original couple was married, they will already have many legal privileges. We talk about how the new partner may not have access to health insurance or immigration benefits, tax benefits. Some people are interested in the creation of an LLC to create the relationship under a corporate structure that would allow people to share property. Sometimes that original couple will decide to get a divorce so that they won’t have that privileged status over the third person.

BW: What about divorce? For example, if three parties own a house in equal shares, can two partners force a sale?

A: That issue definitely does come up. We try to create an agreement in the very beginning so that we won’t have a forced sale. Especially with a three-person dynamic, it can end up in massive litigation because the courts don’t know what to do with it. The legal system tends to be about 20 years behind.


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November 23, 2016

A poly movement stirs in Japan

"Complex intertwined love relationship"

Do any readers know if polyamory is actually becoming a thing in Japan? This long article, at nihonzine.com, suggests it is, at least a little. The writer profiles a quad of two couples and reports on a poly meetup at a "Books & Bar."

Modern egalitarian polyamory, "with the knowledge and agreement of everyone involved," has taken root mostly in Western societies. I'd be very interested to know if it's gaining traction elsewhere.

Google Translate does a poor job of Japanese to English. But open the link above in Chrome, then at its top right click the little Translate icon (two tiny black-and-white pages). Below are excerpts of what you get, touched up a bit. Can a Japanese speaker give a clearer picture, and maybe links to additional coverage and resources?

Whether the pure love of the sexual minority holds that polyamory practitioners of testimony – more love?

By Fujii Atsushitoshi (July 14, 2016)

More-than-one-person sexual love that is different from affair and cheating

"I, in addition to the wife, am currently in a relationship with her three."

While surrounded by three women, the men in front of my eyes began to speak quietly. They are inclined still ear. That said, there is no such heaviness in this place. Because love everyone of him, because it is accepted.

..."Polyamory ( ポリアモリー ). You know the word?"

Greek plural (poly) a combination of the Latin word of love "amor", a coined word that has been made in the United States. In short, we love more than one person at the same time, connecting also a sexual relationship.

In this manner chastity idea is low; it may seem like just playboy. But when you look, it has a different meaning. As a new love style, cheating and infidelity? In fact, how different from either.

Given in the common sense, there is suddenly unbelievable part is also honest. I went to listen to the details of the story.


[He] had come to pick me up at the nearest station. Mr. Fumizuki works as an editor at the publishing company (Fuzukiren). 32 years old. Good young man of intellectual impression. Apartment the couple live, it was the place where I walked for about 15 minutes. Floor plan is 2LDK, is guided to the living room of about six tatami mats.

Bookshelf, which accounts majestically the corner of the room. Practitioners Mr. lined many pictorial books and technical books, who was involved as an editor. Such as the large number of paperback books and comics were also appointed clean.

In addition to Asumi's wife (32 years old) Neri's lover two people. 4 people to build a square relationship rather than triangular relationship as polyamory told me gathered. Practitioners's lover, even, who works as a zookeeper (21 years old). Working at hotel accounting (23 years old).

Four of relationship is very good. Impression that each other recognized each other.

To the original husband and wife who live in this apartment, occasionally woman have also come to stay. In addition, previously had been another woman living together. It looks like summarized in the current relationship diagram [see top of this page].

Asumi's answered so with a smile without any hesitation. ..."At that time, in a magazine article that I found by chance polyamory know the word.

"LGBT Toka, featured in the form of various love. One that appeared among them is polyamory. If you are self-proclaimed, I was surprised and I'm Some People."

But had much is in the mood, and then when I was after a while of the month. Practitioners Ms. suddenly remember the word polyamory.

When "try and search for somehow net Poly lounge, discover the event. Because it was free time on the day, I readily accepted I went suddenly. Is variously heard, so if he is or was a polyamory satisfied that. So at a later date, it was reported to Asumi-chan."

In this way new life as polyamory couple began. Went to Poly lounge, among to meet people with troubles like many similar Neri's not only Asumi's wife, I had to also deal with more than one lover.

...Although they accepted the idea, anxious. For example, how will you do when you go to bed at home? Her answer, Kei-san said:

"I go to bed with everyone, become the character of the river. Asumi's wife is doing the care, sometimes they will not use the futon in the only practitioners Mr. and two." (Kei)

Mr. Asumi told that there is no particularly dissatisfied appearance. If Omoiyare that of each other, it just does say that it is natural behavior.

"You are well misunderstanding, but 4 people collectively are not one-to-one relationship.... If good all that, and even more in the Sex of Speaking, I Ariel not may, automatically never mean it so."


Meeting called to get outside the home are doing on a regular basis, "practitioners' Books & Bar". The knowledge of the participants "do not deny that the people." Lined with wording such as "be all right to silence."

There is also a hesitation and anxiety.

Do you tell that it is polyamory to someone other than the polyamorous? In the current Japan, including such common sense and prejudice to that live against the society, Neri says. Not amusing even if not have a fear of something in the future. Is even san while considered now is should I Tanoshikere, remembered the touch of uncertainty.

"Although I am in this state because it is happy fun now, when it's time that must be someday tell the family, would get lost what to do say ......"

..."To tell the truth, we are subtle even with parents. After that to understand for people who do not try to understand is really difficult." ...

Uncertain future is anyone anxiety. During the interview, I noticed that the calculations and even san is holding hands gently. The midst of looking for happiness of the way.

Watch to the eye, time is near 22 o'clock. The interview was over in about three hours. Kaerigiwa, Mr. Neri left me a message like this:

"We do not necessarily deny monogamy (who love the only one); you do not even going to quibble with your philosophy of love. Much less recommend that many become polyamory. Trial and error in the midst of looking for happiness of the way all the while. These people also hope for the day they get accepted, and are in the world."


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November 22, 2016

Poly in the Time of Trump: discussion at the BTL conference

As promised, here are my notes from the "Next Four Years" discussion session that was held at the Beyond The Love poly conference in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend before last. It was four days after the election.


The Next Four Years: Poly in the Time of Trump

Discussion session at Beyond The Love, Columbus, Ohio

November 12, 2016

Notes by Alan M.

Twenty people gathered in a freshly-scheduled discussion of what the election means for the poly community — in particular, how to support each other, provide for the common defense,” and move boldly forward. Many people were scared, especially those with nonwhite and/or queer identities in addition to being on the cultural edge with poly.

The session ran about 40 minutes. Here’s my summary of thoughts expressed. (Some quotes are paraphrased.)

Trump may not care about the right’s social/sexual agenda, but the power behind the throne is likely to be Mike Pence, a nasty piece of work who does. Someone said he’s announced that he wants to re-establish the McCarthy-era House Un-American Activities Committee, and to defund HIV clinics and instead fund conversion therapy (quack treatments to try to turn gays straight). Even more than Dick Cheney was for the not-too-bright George W. Bush, Pence may become the shadow president.”

We polys will probably be very far down on the list of targets. We’re too few and unimportant (and never came up in the campaign). A lot of us are pretty privileged. But we have many intersectionalities with the people under more immediate threat: black and Latino people, independent women, queer/LGBT, non-Christians, other non-traditionalists in general.

“Very few of us are just one thing,” remarked someone. “I’m also an atheist. I’m also in BDSM. Trump has put it on the map that it’s okay to be a bully. We have to be resolute in speaking up to say ‘No, you cannot do that’ wherever we see it.”

Several said that privileged polyfolks should use their privilege to get out front early against racist and fascist outbreaks. Pastor Niemöller was quoted.

Will the current upsurge of ugly incidents blow over? An attendee from Scotland told how the same things erupted after the UK’s Brexit vote last summer. But they died back in the face of public rebuke. He said that according to police records, in the three weeks after the Brexit vote, the UK had a 51% increase in racist incidents and a 141% increase in homophobic incidents. But by six weeks after the vote, the rates fell back to “normal.”  “I think it may have been because society said No,” he said. “Speak up to say this is not normal, this is not our country, not who we are.”

A recurring theme was polyfolks’ need to ally with communities under threat. “If we defend them, they’ll defend us.”

Are we overstating the threat? Someone pointed out that we’re currently in shock, and that makes people prone to worst-fears extremifying. Beware of your echo chamber. Your echo chamber will over-amplify what you fear, and will keep you from the other perspectives, maybe more realistic, that you need.

● Resist the instinct to polarize. “We distill things down to opposites: Good and Evil. Right and Wrong. But it’s much more complicated than that. None of us fit in a little box. Each one of us believes we make the choices we make because we are good people. Every one of us is complicated and full of the unexpected.”

The point? Put aside our emotional reactions and reach out to our Trump-voting relatives, co-workers, etc. with curiosity; engage with them in a way that they can hear. [Remember this over Thanksgiving!]

Many people continued this theme:

● Write to family and friends who voted Trump: “I know you are a good and ethical person, not a racist or KKK supporter. So, now it’s up to you to speak up and say ‘No, this stuff is wrong.’ Or else you’re complicit in it. Because your vote did set it loose.”

● A suggested variant: “I know you, I know you’re not a racist bully, but your vote has made lot of actual racists think they have your okay to terrorize people and take away their civil rights. People are scared. Can you come out and say, ‘Yes, I voted for him for [whatever reason], but I didn’t give anyone my okay to do [whatever awfulness the discussion is about].’ ”

 ● Another:  “If you pretend it’s not happening when it is happening, you’re just giving them cover. They'll see it as a wink of the eye. And that makes you part of it. Is that really what you want?”

● “We can’t just demonize people. We have to address the reasons they voted as they did.”

● It’s important to make anti-Trump and anti-reactionary opinions safe to voice in public. “Speak up at work, when you are out and about, among people who have contrasting perspectives.”

● “The Southern Poverty Law Center is keeping track of hate crimes.” If polys become a target, make sure incidents get reported as such to the SPLC.

● The Polyamory Leadership Network should recommend organizations to donate to. “Planned Parenthood, SPLC, Relationship Equality Foundation....”

● “Never underestimate the power of personal interaction with people different from you. Talk to people outside your group. Listen with respect. Ask them questions.”

● “Remain respectful when engaging with people with opposing viewpoints. Think about your words. Break those barriers down, so they can hear us.

● “At conventions, offer classes/workshops on how to do anti-bullying intervention.” Many good materials are available. Learn how to defuse a situation. If you see someone being harassed or threatened, go stand next to them and ask “Are you okay?” directly to their face. Sit or stand there with them, look them in the eye, engage them in conversation and say “I’m here so you’re okay.” Ignore the problem person or people around you; do not respond to them.

Yep, if you wear that safety pin, you’re promising to offer up your safety at any moment. Else take it off now. Training will help you keep focused under stress.

● “Most people who voted for Trump did so reluctantly, as the lesser of two evils.” So if they thought he was an evil, tell them they need to speak up now that there's just one.

SPEAKING FOR MYSELF: I was impressed by the quality of the discussion. Looking long-term, I would add “Don’t be stupid.” Seriously. This is going to be a long war, and ‘war’ is how the conservative side sees it whether you do or not. Being smart means thinking ahead realistically in terms of tactics and strategy. Being stupid means thinking in terms of taking a moral stance, as if that were enough. When liberals walk out on an open battlefield unarmed and shout at the enemy "You're wrong!", the other side laughs at how stupid liberals are — at how easy they are to trick, flummox, and blow away.

Be smart enough that they will stop thinking you’re stupid. That means always gathering new information and perspectives, being quick to spot changing situations, seeing opportunities early and taking advantage of them.

Also: How to argue effectively with someone who holds different opinions or values. 

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November 20, 2016

Ad agency: polyamory will be a top trend to ride in 2017

Mikey Burton / New York Times
But first:

Folks, I see too much fear and panic going on post-election. Let’s stop and take a deep breath.

It's easy to let fear amplify in your echo chamber and run away with you. In the military the result is called FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. It diminishes your abilities and drives you into bad decisions. Don't go there.

Instead, make the choice to firm up. Don't let 'em get you on the run. If worse comes to worst, there's going to be huge, well-mobilized solidarity. Which you need to help provide to others. Which means taking care of yourself now.

As I said in What’s Next, polyamorists never even made the Trump/Pence radar. Instead, the radar is painting America's tens of millions of Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, queers, independent women, etc. Polyland has lots of intersections with these groups — and that’s where we must step up and pitch in. Ally with others, and you'll have allies all around you if your time comes.

"Life rewards people who move in the direction of greatest courage." It really does! Move yourself from fear to resolve. It's gonna be interesting times, and in interesting times, it's way more fun to drive events than to let them drive you.


As one sign of how culturally entrenched polyamory is becoming, a hot ad agency that claims to use deep cyber tools just spotlighted poly as a social trend for 2017 that marketers can ride. If you start seeing triads on billboards, quads cuddling in Viagra ads, and other poly tropes grabbing eyeballs, this report may be the reason why. From the press release:

Sparks & Honey report of Top 100 Cultural Trends for 2017 includes Polyamory, Death Positivity and the Museumification of Everything

Agency's annual report highlights the Top 100 Trends brands and consumers need to know to be relevant in the new year

Click here for the report.

NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/— sparks & honey, the New York-based agency that synchronizes brands with culture in the now, next and future, today released its annual report, A-Z Culture Glossary of 2017: The Trends You Need to Know to be Relevant, a list of the 100 cultural trends sparks & honey predicts will shape the world and shift consumer behavior in the next year.

This is the third edition of this report. ...Of the trends that the Culture Glossary has predicted and scored over the series of reports, sparks & honey has an average 81 percent accuracy rate.

...Polyamory: monogamous coupledom is being challenged by alternative lifestyles, and polyamory is beginning to establish itself into mainstream culture.

This year's report is the culmination of two months of deep 'cultural forensics,' cultural listening and predictive modeling, looking at trends from the edge to the everyday. These 100 trends, from A-to-Z, are an excellent beacon for marketing to improve relevance, and they can be leveraged as innovation platforms. ...

...Employing a disruptive marketing platform and cultural newsroom model, sparks & honey leverages proprietary tools, algorithms and human insights to identify emerging cultural trends and engage brands in relevant and meaningful conversations. sparks & honey leverages the proprietary sparks & honey cultural intelligence system to deliver services in three areas for brands — innovation, cultural insights, and content. Named to Ad Age's 2014 A-List as an "Agency to Watch"....

The whole press release. The full report.

Here's what the report says about polyamory:

Society is only beginning to understand the spectrum of sexuality and gender, and we’re also spotlighting alternative forms of connection, whether based on romance, sex-only, or community and friendship. Monogamous coupledom is being challenged by alternative lifestyles: a party of two is not for everyone, and polyamory is growing roots into mainstream culture. Expect to hear more about new forms of connection in 2017.



November 17, 2016

"Polyamory looks a lot like ordinary family life", and other Canadian normalization

This morning Canada's largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, carried us another tiny step toward normalization.

Every piece of good mass-media coverage like this makes it a little easier to explain yourself, a little easier to be out.

Polyamory looks a lot like ordinary family life: Modern Family

An estimated 4 to 5 per cent of Canadians identify as polyamorous, which is when both partners are free to form romantic connections with others.

According to a study published in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy in 2012, when given the opportunity to live as they please, polyamory looks a lot more like ordinary family than one big, free-loving party. (Dreamstime)

By Brandie Weikle

Jacki Yovanoff’s Waterloo, Ont., household looks like any other blended family. She and her common-law husband live together with their four combined kids — two each from their former marriages — ages 7, 9, 10 and 12.

Jacki Yovanoff
But the couple is polyamorous, meaning both of them are free to form romantic connections with others.

Polyamory gets its name by combining the Greek word for “many” with the Latin for “loves,” Yovanoff says, and it’s a relationship form that falls under the umbrella of what’s known as “consensual non-monogamy.”

People tend to think of swingers when they first hear about polyamory, she says. “That’s kind of where our brains go — that ’70s-style key party is the image that that conjures up.”

But for the estimated 4 to 5 per cent of the Canadian population that self-identify as polyamorous, according to a study published in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy in 2012, when given the opportunity to live as they please, polyamory looks a lot more like ordinary family life than one big, free-loving party.

Yovanoff’s journey into polyamory began with her and her current domestic partner — who prefers not to be named for privacy reasons — dating other couples.

“We began a relationship with a couple about three and a half years ago. Our kids would also be hanging out and we would be like a big family and they would stay for the weekend,” she said. “I was involved with both of the parties of the other couple but my partner was only involved with the other woman.”

Did the children know what was going on between their parents?

“No, because we don’t talk about our sex lives with the kids,” says Yovanoff. “What I mean by that is we don’t talk specifics. I know my kids will very likely Google things … I’m am open to them knowing I have relationships with more than one person and those relationships may or may not have a sexual component.”

In the meantime “we’re very open with our kids,” she says. “If they are asking questions, I feel they deserve an answer, whatever we feel is age appropriate for them.”

Her children do know that she identifies as pansexual — attracted to all genders — and that both she and her partner are poly, just as kids of same-sex parents understand what it means to be gay. The kids have seen their father holding hands with another woman, for instance, and other signs of affection similar to what they’d see between their parents.

...Only Yovanoff and her domestic partner live together, but for other poly families it may look like three or more spouses under one roof along with the children, and it’s a far more stable environment for the kids than people may assume.

“Polyamorous families across Canada are raising healthy, happy children,” says Zoe Duff, director of the Victoria–based Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association and author of Love Alternatively Expressed: The Scoop on Practicing Polyamory in Canada. While public perception of polyamory is still quite reserved where kids are concerned, Duff says, “these are homes where the resources, attention and love of several adults enhance, support and empower children and youth.”

...Another point in favour of polyamorous households?

“In this economy, having more than two adults pay the bills, arrange child care, appointments, sports, lessons and listen to the children just makes sense,” says Duff.

...“Polyamory is not for everyone, though, and demands a great deal of soul-searching,” adds Duff. It requires a great deal of communication to “overcome any hurt feelings and jealousy.”

Yovanoff says it requires a lot of “talking and thinking and work that does not necessarily come along with monogamy.” ...

The whole article (November 17, 2016). It's been reprinted by the Hamilton Spectator and probably others.


Also, here are two other Canadian items that were waiting in my queue:

● In September we saw a wave of coverage of a report calling for Canadian law to adapt to poly relationships; see my roundup post of the news then. Turns out I missed a big one: CBC Radio's popular nationwide program "The Current" aired a 25-minute segment on September 16th, Polyamorous families want Canadian law to catch up with their relationships. You can listen or read the complete transcript at that link. This is from the link's shorter article:

In June 2016, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family surveyed 500 Canadian polyamorists and their families — the first of its kind — and found the number of Canadians living in polyamorous relationships is significant, and believed to be growing.

Polyamorists have more than one committed intimate partner at a time. And unlike polygamy, polyamory is completely legal — though they face unique legal issues.

Tia Thompson and Abhann Cupper Scott are two members of a three-person relationship and say it's time Canadian law reflect the reality of polyamorous relationships.

Abhann Cupper Scott, Tia Thompson and Braelor Rolston are in a polyamorous relationship and say their family unit deserve more rights. (Courtesy of Abhann Cupper Scott)

Thompson tells The Current's Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay that their daily life reflects a typical family.

"We're a normal family that has a whole lot of love to give to a whole lot of people. We all sit down and eat dinner together and we adopted two cats... and we all work. We all watch Orange Is The New Black."

Scott tells Chattopadhyay that unlike polygamy, a polyamorous relationship is not driven by religion, "even though as Wiccans that fits our philosophies and beliefs." As well, Scott points to the difference that polyamory is based on a "shared voice together and equal communication and equal rights."

Thompson says medical benefits and a lack of legal precedent are just some of the challenges polyamorists face. ...

John Paul Boyd is the executive director of the University of Calgary's Canadian Research Institute for Law in the Family. He conducted a national survey of polyamorous families and found the number of people involved in polyamorous relationships seeking advice about issues such as parental rights, formalising relationships, and immigration is on the increase.

"Our research showed that the lion's share of of people involved in polyamorous relationships lived in three provinces — British Columbia followed by Ontario followed by Alberta," says Boyd.

"They tended to be young, with almost 75 per cent of respondents being 44 years or younger .... have higher incomes than the Canadian population as a whole and they tended to be far better educated."

Boyd says that B.C. is the most "friendly" towards people in polyamorous relationships, while Alberta is the "least friendly."

"We're not talking about legalizing relationships that are already legal." Boyds tells Chattopadhyay. "We're talking about extending coverage under benefits and rights and responsibilities of the laws — on domestic relations to people that are in family structures like this."

● Last February, longtime Canadian poly organizer Zoe Duff went on CKNW news-talk radio in Vancouver to discuss Polyamory Grows in Canada (length 7:09. Dated Feb. 13, 2016).



November 16, 2016

‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ TV series being developed at Syfy

The first edition, hardcover
The polyamory movement wouldn't be what it is today had it not been for Robert Heinlein's science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, published in 1961. It laid out a vision of polyamorous group relationship with a purity like nothing readers of the time had ever seen. It has been called one of the books that made the 1960's happen. It changed countless lives, including mine. As late as the 2000's, when you asked any group of poly activists what got them started, some always cited Stranger. In fact, Stranger's most important early apostle and his life partner created the word polyamory itself (during a kitchen-table brainstorming in about 1988; see the 2015 updates to that link).

You can read more in my 2010 piece, Polyamory, Robert Heinlein, and his definitive new biography.

Few who come into the poly movement today have heard of Stranger, and the book itself has not aged well. It's casually sexist and homophobic, its science-fiction projections of the future (the story is set around 2000) were ridiculously naive, it has structural problems (its first two thirds and crucial last third were written a few years apart, with somewhat different thrusts) — and as a guide for real life it's useless: everything rests on magic psychic superpowers learned from Martians, via Heinlein's infatuation with the long-forgotten metaphysics of General Semantics.

But it's still a heck of a thought-provoker, not to mention adventure story, and those who love it always will, dearly.

Various projects to make a movie of Stranger have foundered during the last 55 years. Now, at long last, it looks like it will come to the screen, as a TV series.

Don't you dare screw this up, Syfy, or I will COME AND GET YOU!

From Variety:

‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ Being Developed at Syfy

By Daniel Holloway

Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television are teaming to develop a series adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s 1961 science-fiction novel “Stranger in a Strange Land” for Syfy.

A piece of the American science fiction canon, “Stranger in a Strange Land” tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human born on Mars who comes to earth in early adulthood and eventually transforms its culture. The television adaptation will be executive produced by Brad Fischer, James Vanderbilt and William Sherak of Mythology Entertainment; Scott Rudin, Garrett Basch and Eli Bush of Scott Rudin Productions; and Joe Vecchio of Vecchio Entertainment. Mythology’s Julia Gunn will be co-executive producer.

“Paramount TV is excited to have the opportunity to adapt Robert Heinlein’s seminal work of science fiction,” said Paramount TV president Amy Powell. “This novel has resonated with me since college and there’s a reason it has continued to find new fans for over forty years. Syfy’s understanding of imaginative and futuristic programming is unmatched, making them an ideal partner for this series.”...

The whole item, written from a press release (November 15, 2016).

Forbes article:

...Although Stranger in a Strange Land began as a cult favorite when it was published in 1961, its cult status didn’t last long. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1962, one of four of Heinlein’ s books to win the coveted prize. (The others were Double Star, Starship Troopers, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.) Stranger was the first science fiction novel to make the New York Times bestseller list, and the US Library of Congress included it in an exhibition called The Books That Shaped America.

Writing in the New York Times, Michael Dirda characterized The Books That Shaped America as an exhibition that

puts on display what one might call the classics of upset and troublemaking. When first published, these books shocked people, made them angry, shook up their deepest beliefs. They shamed readers with accounts of racism, greed, corruption, Puritanism and provincial narrow-mindedness.

Stranger did all of that. It’s about a human raised by Martians named Valentine Michael Smith who is discovered on Mars and returned to Earth. Smith is baffled by human culture and society, and he proceeds to found the Church of All Worlds that promotes communal living and uninhibited sexuality. Some have seen Stranger as foreseeing aspects of the mid-to-late ’60s counterculture that the media labeled as “free love” and “hippies” (we didn’t called ourselves that).

Heinlein was not happy with the version of Stranger that became famous.1 His original manuscript ran to something like 220,000 words but his publisher, Putnam, insisted it be cut to approximately 160,000. In 1991 Heinlein’s widow, Virginia Heinlein, renewed the book’s copyright and had the original manuscript published in its entirety.

Whether or not SyFy’s version will please the book’s many fans remains to be seen. SyFy did a good job adapting the first book in James A. Corey’s Expanse series, but the prominent role played by sexuality in Stranger in a Strange Land may be too much for the network to handle. Given what’s on display (so to speak) in Westworld, HBO might have been a better option.

...Cast, directors, scriptwriters and broadcast dates have not yet been announced.

The whole article (November 16, 2016).


1. Actually, he was happy with it. In a letter to Oberon Zell (appended to this article as comment number 11), Heinlein said he thought the slimmed, speeded-up version of Stranger was the better one.


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