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



October 30, 2008

Mainstream newspaper: a married triad is the more conservative choice

The Globe and Mail

In a newspaper advice column that's out this morning, a stable triad to raise your children in comes across as the responsible, family-oriented polyamorous structure for a person to want, as opposed to a looser, more open poly arrangement.

The Globe and Mail is the leading national newspaper of Canada. Read on:


By CLAUDIA DEY [October 30, 2008]

A reader writes: I've been married with children for many mostly happy years. We have an understanding that we would be open to the idea of a group marriage.

As the years went on, and our dream partners never materialized, my husband began pushing for an open relationship. I gave in and he started seeing another woman. This dynamic was very unpleasant until, two years ago, his girlfriend and I fell in love, too.

Problem is, she has a long-term boyfriend who sleeps around. I'm worried about STDs. My husband and girlfriend want an open relationship; I want a lovingly closed triad and a stable home for our children.

If I concede, I imagine a life of stress. If I leave, my heart and theirs will break — and we have to consider the children, who love all three of us. Also, I don't have any right to ask my girlfriend to break up with her boyfriend as their relationship predates ours.


The advice column is named "Group Therapy," and it presents advice from readers themselves. The advice they give in the paper is remarkably thoughtful and well-considered. Read the whole thing.

It looks to me like an advice column that fell of out of a time machine from about 2020. This is how polyamory will be treated by mainstream culture then if we do our jobs now.

The online comments, on the other hand, are pretty 2008. Do chime in.

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October 27, 2008

"Compersion for Beginners"

Tango magazine

The heart of polyamory (pun intended) is, for me, compersion: taking joy in your lover's other loves. Couple-love is wonderful by itself, but when the energy gets flowing freely among three (or more), things become transcendent in a way most people never imagine.

But the word itself? A lot of people hate it. They say it sounds clinical or stuffy or made up. The latter is certainly true; the word was invented during the 1970s in the legendary Kerista commune in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, with the aid, according to those who were there, of a Ouija board.

Me, I like the word (just don't get me going on woo-woo Ouija-board nonsense). To me it sounds like a blend of "compassion" and "person" (appropriate!) and carries a ring of weight and awe (also appropriate).

Some years ago a group of people in England were sitting around saying how much they disliked the word, and as a joke they made up a nonsense word to take its place: frubble. They didn't mean it seriously, according to one of the group who's currently around on the lists. (Hey, if you're reading this, wanna comment?) But apparently there was a real demand for an alternative word — because "frubble" caught on and is now widely used in the poly lexicon. It is synonymous with compersion except that it has less serious, more cuddly-bubbly overtones. For instance.

Compersion is often called the opposite of jealousy. "Jealousy" is supposedly the only emotion-word in the dictionary without an opposite, at least when it's used in the context of romantic love. This says two things right off: that a new word was indeed needed, and that an innate aspect of human nature has been widely overlooked.

All this is introduction to a recent article in Tango magazine for people who've never encountered the concept:


Compersion for Beginners

By Koko Taylor [undated]

Amidst a crowded dance floor, a slender blonde woman leaned over to whisper in my ear. "You're a very attractive couple," she purred. I smiled at her — an ego boost is always nice — and continued dancing with my boyfriend. The man with her gave me a high-five and kept flashing smiles my way. Was he trying to hit on me? It could not have been any more clear: I was there with my boyfriend.

For the next half hour every time I looked up, I felt one of them trying to make eye contact with me. When we left the bar my boyfriend asked if I'd noticed the couple. "I think they were trying to hit on me," he said.

"No, they were hitting on me," I replied. Then it dawned on us: they were hitting on us as a couple. That's funny, we both thought. And then he looked at me and said, "I don't want to share you with anyone."

"Neither do I," I replied. Exclusivity with one partner is where I'm comfortable in a romantic relationship.

The model for romance in our culture is so dominated by the monogamous male-female relationship that most people subscribe to it without stopping to consider the alternatives. But not everyone is uncomfortable with sharing his or her partner.

People in open relationships often feel joy or pleasure when their partner has romantic adventures with other people. This feeling is sometimes called compersion....

When Shara Smith started dating Brian Downes, he was already in a relationship with someone else and he wanted to be careful about respecting Stephanie, his first partner. "He wanted to take all the right steps, and that made me more attracted to him," said Shara, who describes compersion as a "positive emotional reaction to a lover's other relationship."

"I love to watch his face light up when she calls because I know how much he cares about her." Shara doesn't view other partners as competition. "Every relationship is unique and nobody can replace me, because they are not me."...

"It's like a parent watching their children spread their wings and fly," says Anita Wagner, of the joy she feels when someone makes her partner happy....

Birgitte Phillipides, president of Polyamorous NYC, feels "glorious and wonderful" seeing someone fulfill the desires of her partner. Recently the spouse of one of Birgitte's partners told Birgitte she loved her in a platonic way. "It doesn't get much better than that in this relationship style," she says.

..."It does require a fair amount of emotional intelligence and maturity," says Anita. Her path from monogamy to experiencing compersion in open relationships took some "emotional stretching."

All three women stated directly or indirectly that you can avoid or overcome jealousy and insecurity by making sure that everyone's needs are met and that all partners are equally happy. Achieving that balance seems essential for people in open relationships to experience compersion....


Read the whole article.

P.S.: American Buddhists have pointed out that the traditional Buddhist term mudita encompasses the concept of compersion, though much else as well.

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October 20, 2008

Five speeches from Poly Pride Weekend

More of the great people who spoke at Poly Pride Weekend in New York earlier this month have put their talks online. Here are excerpts. Click each title to get the whole thing.

1. Tristan Taormino's Poly Pride Rally Keynote Address, delivered from the stage in Central Park:


Marriage as we know it is changing. Conservatives would say it’s under attack; under fire. I say it’s under construction.

...People ask me a lot, “What did you learn from the people you interviewed for Opening Up? What do they all have in common? What makes open relationships work?” There are some common principles. Honesty. Self awareness. Trust. Communication. Boundaries. Commitment.

And this may be what is scariest of all to our enemies: we practice what they preach. We have values.... We need to reclaim the word values. We need to rip it out of the hands of pundits and bigots and stand up to defend our polyamorous values.

Our society is poised to change dramatically in the next decade. Like other minorities before us, polyamorous people need to come out when it’s safe to do so and educate our loved ones, our neighbors, our doctors and others around us about our lives. We need to tell our stories. I’ve had the privilege to hear the stories of hundreds of people in non-monogamous relationships. Like Leslie from Minnesota whose two husbands supported her through chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with cancer. Or Cat in Oklahoma, who lost custody of her children for being polyamorous. Or a poly circle of four in the Pacific Northwest who have owned a house and raised their kids together for over fifteen years. We must speak our truths....

We are at the forefront of those who will redefine love, commitment, and family in this century.


2. Jenny Block: "I Have Learned That It's Worth It":


You represent a community that has welcomed me in and supported me in a way I could have never expected or imagined.... You see, I never set out to be a spokesperson or poster child for polyamory. I'm a writer and what I write about is my life. And so when I was asked to write a book about the fact that I was in an open marriage, I was thrilled. And then, I was terrified.

...How can you ever be ready for the wrath of some people, the pity of others, and the surprising amount of love and community that comes as well?... The scathing comments [were] the biggest shock of all, of course. The first ones on the web called me a whore, implored my husband to leave me, damned me to hell, and caused my cheeks to catch fire, my nerves to clench, and my stomach to heave. But then the comments of support came rolling in....

And that has been the thrill of the last four months, for nowhere else could have I experienced the power of a skill we have come in many ways to take for granted.

...Those reactions brought out, I think, the best in me. Their comments — no matter how harsh or unkind or unfair — make me calmer and stronger and smarter. And they honed the skills that I had been working on in my marriage. In turn, I brought those skills back to bear on my marriage and my relationship with my current girlfriend Jemma. Being with her has taught me once and for all that love isn’t a limited commodity. That being poly is about honoring one’s sexuality not exploiting it. And that just because you feel like you’re alone in the world, alone in your views about love and sex and life and relationships, doesn’t mean that you really are.

All of this has made me acutely aware of how much the people who came before me in this fight have done. How much all of you have done just by living your lives without compromise. How tirelessly those who have long been fighting the good fight have inspired all of us to communicate honestly in all of our relationships, with intimates, friends, or family. How they have taught us how to communicate with the rest of the world so that there might be more acceptance and less hate as we move forward.


3. Anita Wagner: "The Mainstreaming of Polyamory":


Today we are witnessing the mainstreaming of polyamory. We’ve come a long way from the early days of polyamory and its roots in the free love movement. For many years polyamory stayed on the fringe of society, with some of its more radical denizens taking pride in keeping it there. Some were clearly resistant to the idea that polyamory as a model for relationships is a concept to be shared with people living traditional lives....

For a time polyamory stayed well below mainstream radar. As time passed and as the divorce rate held high and steady, legitimate mainstream media interest began to shine an ever-brighter light on polyamory and asked the question, “Is polyamory a legitimate alternative to traditional monogamy?”

...Via online resources, people in monogamous relationships found out that there is an alternative.... Along the way, dedicated organizations like the Institute for 21st Century Relationships have devoted their energies to teaching workshops at professional conferences attended by sex researchers and marriage and family therapists to increase awareness of the legitimacy of this alternative to traditional monogamy. Professionals are beginning to understand that open relationships can and do work for many people and are learning how to counsel their clients more appropriately and competently....

Today the picture is brighter than ever. The mainstreaming of polyamory is well under way, and as community organizers and advocates it is our duty to be prepared to continue to effectively participate in the ongoing public dialogue about alternatives to monogamy in a way that debunks misconceptions and helps mainstreamers understand that they do indeed have options as to how they arrange their intimate relationships....

We are proud of who we are, proud of our poly families, and proud to share the truth about legitimate options in intimate relationships. Let us commit ourselves to facilitating the growth of mainstream polyamory.... The poly mantra is said to be “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate”, and this is wise advice as to the way we conduct our relationships. Similarly, my poly advocacy mantra is “Facilitate, Facilitate, Facilitate!” I invite you to join me in pride in who we are and as we work together to let everyone know they have options by facilitating the mainstreaming of polyamory.


4. Leanna Wolfe: "On Kittens and the Very Invented Culture of Polyamory":


...Deciding to set your lover free into the wide world of polyamory also has its consequences — consequences so overwhelming that the vast majority of Americans simply say “no.” In that biologically humans are a pair-bonding species, short-term monogamy can feel like the high road and the right road. And certainly romantic-love brain chemistry conforms to this template and approach.... Poly people view this phase of romantic love with a wide-angle lens. They know that the sensations caused by their dopamine highs won’t last and that at best such a love will convert to the attachment phase, which is more relaxed, being supported by the brain chemicals vasopressin and oxytocin.... Once in the attachment phase poly people comfortably invite in new attractions and new loves.

Mainstream Americans put NRE [New-Relationship Energy, or love-struckness] on a pedestal and thus consider polyamory to be supremely foolhardy. It’s been noted by anthropological observers that American society’s attitudes towards romantic love are very adolescent. As lovers Americans behave like teenagers. We take our crushes seriously and we measure our self worth by being able to demand the fidelity of our partners and the health of our relationships by the intensity of passion we’re able to co-generate.

...Over the last five years I’ve conducted research (including a doctoral dissertation) to better understand the components of compersion.... What might give a couple in an open-polyamorous relationship the sense of non-possessiveness that would cause them to embrace their partner’s extra-relationship exploration?... Those who were highly enculturated in the world of polyamory (reading books, joining e-lists and attending conferences) were most likely to contend that compersion was possible.

...[I] consider that polyamory is an absolutely unique cultural invention.... Like life-long monogamy, polyamory goes completely against our biological wiring. It took me a long time to realize this. As a scientist with a poly agenda, I was forever using biological examples to argue that polyamory was natural. What I failed to note was that the culture of polyamory is a true blue human invention — a cultural construction.

...As for why polyamory is a very weird cultural construction, it’s because poly people seek to tell the truth — not just to their trusted friends but to their longtime partners, their sizzling new lovers, subscribers to their internet blogs and livejournals, as well as pretty much everyone else who will listen. They seek to tell the truth even when it hurts. We humans, being members of the biggest-brained primate species, typically withhold information when it’s not to our advantage to share. While endeavoring to be truthful is perhaps the most significant hallmark of polyamory, it’s honestly not very human....


5. And in case you missed it the first time, my own speech: "Steering the Bandwagon":


People who push for years to get a bandwagon rolling are usually unprepared for what to do when the bandwagon finally starts to move. No longer is it all about a few devoted people grunting and straining from behind to make the bandwagon’s wheels move half an inch. When the effort begins to succeed, the bandwagon starts rolling on its own, faster and faster.

And unless the people with the original vision stop just shoving the rear bumper and run up and grab the steering wheel, pretty soon the bandwagon outruns them and leaves them behind. And their elation turns to horror as they watch it careen downhill out of control, in disastrous unintended directions.... Think of what happened to the psychedelic drug movement a generation ago....



The defining aspect of polyamory, I'm convinced — the thing that sets it apart and makes it powerful and radical and transformative — is in seeing one's metamours not as rivals to be resented or even as neutral figures to be tolerated, but as, at minimum, friends and acquaintances — perhaps family even — for whom you genuinely wish good things. And beyond that, of course, there's no limit to how close you can become. This is what differentiates poly from merely having affairs. In this way it becomes a generalization of the magic of romantic love — into something much wider, and more widely applicable, than the dominant paradigm of a couple carefully walling away their particular love from anything to do with the rest of humanity.


Please pass along this link to anyone who doesn't take this subject seriously. Here's the permalink.

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"Do Open Relationships Work? Yes, But Only If…"

The Daily Spank

A blogsite that's newly diving into the subject of poly seeks your experiences:


They can be easy, and often are — at least the ones I’m familiar with, my friend’s — but an open relationship is also fraught with emotional pitfalls and resentments....

My friend is the local expert on this topic. Not only has he had several long-term and healthy open relationships, he’s still (miraculously to me) good friends with his exes. They all seem to be one big happy (kinky) family. He has an excellent blog that’s quickly becoming an impressive resource for all things Polyamory: www.polycoach.com.

So the Polycoach preaches: Communication.... The Polycoach says that the two partners in the primary relationship have to discuss what they’re comfortable with, both individually and as a couple, and more importantly, uncomfortable with. In other words, the ground rules have to be laid out first....

There are literally as many varieties of polyamory as there are people.

So it’s this humble correspondent’s opinion that “open relationships” only work IF both parties are excellent communicators, are trustworthy and have integrity, and are flexible in personality. Of course, there are probably countless examples of successful polyamorists who share none of these qualities. There is no set of rules appropriate for every situation. Bottom line? If it makes you happy, and her happy, and her, and him, mozeltov.

What are your experiences?


Read the whole thing and leave a comment.

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October 8, 2008

More from Poly Pride Weekend: My Speech

Back when I was 17 and all young and everything, and had been among Heinlein-style waterbrothers for less than a year, I had this idea that someday in the future I would be standing on stage at a microphone in front of an outdoor crowd delivering a blazing manifesto on multi-loving as the next great advance in Western Civilization's possible way of life.

Well... as Thoreau said,

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

So years later, there I was last Saturday onstage at a microphone at the Poly Pride Rally in New York's Central Park, trying to deliver my words as clearly as Obama does and making sure I could hear them echoing back from the distance. Below is what I said. Regular readers will recognize a lot of this, but if you haven't seen it yet....


For the last three years [I boomed into the mike], I’ve been running a site called Polyamory in the News. I’ve put up posts about more than 240 articles and broadcasts, and more of them keep coming in all the time. It's clear that during just these three years, worldwide interest in ethical polyamory, and the ideas and values behind it, has been growing rapidly.

Also growing are misconceptions about it, and misuses of the term that I think threaten to spiral out of control.

So at this historic moment, I want to deliver a caution, and some advice about our future.

People who push for years to get a bandwagon rolling are usually unprepared for what to do when the bandwagon finally starts to move. No longer is it all about a few devoted people grunting and straining from behind to make the bandwagon’s wheels move half an inch. When the effort begins to succeed, the bandwagon starts rolling on its own, faster and faster.

And unless the people with the original vision stop just shoving the rear bumper and run up and grab the steering wheel, pretty soon the bandwagon outruns them and leaves them behind. And their elation turns to horror as they watch it careen downhill out of control, in disastrous unintended directions. And then it wrecks itself spectacularly in a ditch. Survivors loot the wreckage and disappear, and onlookers nod their heads knowingly and say they saw it coming all along.

Think of what happened to the psychedelic drug movement a generation ago. It started with tremendous promise among a handful of philosophers and intellectuals in the early 1960s, gained popularity and momentum, careened out of control downmarket, and morphed into a cheapened, degraded "drugs are good" cultural meme for the masses. By the early 1970s the drug-culture bandwagon was so ugly and indiscriminate that people like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died from, of all the stupid things, tranquilizers and heroin.

So maybe it’s now time for us to pay less attention to just pushing the polyamory-awareness movement, and more to steering it.

If we are to save our defining word from serious cheapening in the next few years, and guide this thing in good directions as it gains momentum, we should, in my opinion, be taking every opportunity to do several things:

1. Keep stressing that successful polyamory requires high standards of communication, ethics, integrity, generosity, and concern for every person affected;

2. Emphasize that poly is not for everyone, and that monogamy is right and best for many;

3. Insist on the part of the definition that stresses respect for everyone and the "full knowledge and consent of all involved";

4. Expand that to not just "knowledge and consent," but well-wishing and good intention for all involved. The defining aspect of polyamory, I'm convinced — the thing that sets it apart and makes it powerful and radical and transformative — is in seeing one's metamours not as rivals to be resented, or even as neutral figures to be tolerated, but as, at minimum, friends and acquaintances –— perhaps family even —– for whom you genuinely wish good things. (And beyond that, of course, there's no limit to how close you can become.) This is what differentiates poly from merely having affairs. In this way it becomes a generalization of the magic of romantic love — into something much wider, and more widely applicable, than the dominant paradigm of a couple carefully walling away their particular love from anything to do with the rest of humanity.

And, 5. Warn people that, while poly can open extraordinary new worlds of joy and wonder and may help to humanize the world, its benefits must be earned: through courage, hard relationship-honesty work, ruthless self-examination, tough personal growth, and a quick readiness to (as they say in the Marines) "choose the difficult right over the easy wrong."

Please — with the bandwagon now moving, let's not let it run away from us in the next few years to the point that "polyamory" goes mass-market as something careless or trivial, or in any way less than what we know it to be.

Thank you.



Updates:

Here's another Poly Pride speech: Anita Wagner's "The Mainstreaming of Polyamory".

And another: Leanna Wolfe's "On Kittens and the Very Invented Culture of Polyamory".

And Tristan Taormino's ringing Poly Pride Keynote Address.

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October 6, 2008

Poly Priders get stories into two New York dailies

New York Times, New York Post, others

When she saw the New York Times on her laptop early Saturday morning, Diana Adams let out shrieks and did a happy dance around her apartment (a sight to behold). There on the front of the Fashion/Style section was a big color photo of her, her sweetie Ed, and two of their significant others. She read the article rapidly aloud for those of us staying at her place for Poly Pride Weekend (see previous post), as we stirred up breakfast in the kitchen.

A lot of the article turned out to be good. But she was disappointed to discover that the reporter took seriously her throwaway joke about toothbrush jealousy and implied, later, that jealousy is a significant problem for her and her circle. Nor was the usual ignorant comment from a clueless "expert" a thrill. Read on:


Hopelessly Devoted to You, You and You

By ALEX WILLIAMS

LIKE many considerate boyfriends, Ed Vessel, a cognitive neuroscientist who lives in Brooklyn, bought a toothbrush for his steady girlfriend Diana Adams to keep at his apartment when she sleeps over. While Ms. Adams, a Cornell-educated lawyer, considered this touching, she was less pleased when she noticed the toothbrush that Mr. Vessel had bought for his other steady girlfriend when she slept over.

That Mr. Vessel had a second girlfriend was not the issue. All parties here are committed to polyamory, which for them means maintaining multiple steady relationships, with the knowledge and consent of all involved. The problem was that the other woman’s toothbrush was “a really fancy one that says ‘Primo’ on it, and mine is a junky one that says ‘Duane Reade,’ ” said Ms. Adams, 29. For about a month, she was a little miffed every single time she brushed her teeth.

The two eventually talked — polyamory involves a lot of talking — and they now laugh about it. “I just decided that this was an example of a jealousy that is not warranted,” Ms. Adams said.

...[A] small but vocal collection of adherents — many borrowing the language of inclusion used in the gay rights movement — argues that polyamory can be a workable, responsible way to live.... This weekend, a group called Polyamorous NYC, with more than 2,000 members, planned to have a three-day Poly Pride Weekend, featuring a picnic and rally in Central Park.

All this does not mean that polyamory has risen above underground status. Edward O. Laumann, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago and a prominent sex researcher, said many sex studies don’t treat the practice as a category of its own.

Dr. Laumann said polyamorists are probably “just talking like that because they haven’t found somebody special.”

But whether it is a movement, or just something a few a couples do, there is little debate that polyamory holds a certain risqué interest for those who would never practice it, and that it can make one’s life very complicated.

Just ask Mr. Vessel and Ms. Adams, who will be attending this weekend’s festival (she serves as the vice president for Polyamorous NYC). As young professionals trying to juggle busy careers with multiple steady romantic partners, their lives provide a window into the freedoms and complications of polyamory....

...[E]ven when partners get things straight between themselves, they still must find a palatable way to present their lifestyle to friends and family.... Mr. Vessel said his parents are growing accustomed to the idea, although they had a hard time understanding why, on a recent trip home, he held one girlfriend’s hand while talking about another 1,600 miles away.

And last week, Ms. Adams invited her mother to a rooftop barbecue, where she was introduced to her daughter’s circle of partners. “I had to say, ‘You know how I’m bisexual,’ ” Ms. Adams said. “ ‘Well guess what, I have a girlfriend. In fact, I have two.’ ”

She added: “My mom’s reaction was, ‘If these are people that you love, they’re family to me.’ ”


Read the whole article (dated October 3, 2008 as currently posted), with photo.

A discussion of the article is underway on the LiveJournal Polyamory Community. One poster there comments, "The flip, hip style of the article (so what else is new?) puts my back up."

Regardless, we decided while driving to the rally that the article does convey, to a large and sophisticated audience, the important part: that polyamory can work, and that people are doing it happily.

In my opinion, however, the reporter did fail to notice the real story. Poly, at least for these particular people, is not just about having consensual affairs but about a radical, paradigm-breaking way of life that just plain transforms everything.

----------------------------

That same morning the New York Post also printed an article on poly. It defined the concept clearly and not only mentioned the Poly Pride rally but gave the time, place, and website.


That's (Poly) Amory!

By BRIAN NIEMIETZ

SEE you later, honey — I'm going to a singles mixer. Oh, don't worry, it's polyamorous.

Most of us would be wise to duck after trying that line. Not so with Polyamorous NY president Birgitte Philippides, whose organization is hosting a Poly Pride Weekend highlighted by a rally and picnic today at Central Park's Great Hill.

Poly wanna . . . what?

"Polyamory is the practice of having more than one open relationship," says Philippides. She has been a practicing polyamorist for just over 5 years; her girlfriend's boyfriend is in the Army and lives in Atlanta with his wife. Obviously.

"We're in the 21st century," she explains, "and models of relationships are still locked into very old value systems. They're really not working for everyone."

"This is not a sex event," Philippides insists. "It's about exploring alternative relationships."

Although she also makes it clear that hooking up with a polyamorist doesn't necessarily enroll participants in a long-term commitment, Philippides warns would-be cuckolds what the weekend's festivities are about: "Consensual and responsible nonmonogamy. Lying and cheating is not polyamory . . . it's lying and cheating."

...What's the difference between polyamory and "Big Love" style polygamy, you ask? Female empowerment, supposedly....


See the whole article, with photo (October 4, 2008).

Even better, the Post also put up a wonderful video report on the Friday night Cuddle Party.

Incidentally, these articles — and other mentions and listings in several smaller papers (Time Out, the New York Press, and the Village Voice) — didn't just happen. They stemmed from Polyamorous NYC's vigorous and professional efforts to drum up pre-event publicity.

The weekend's festivities were also being taped for a French documentary on polyamory. And Poly NYC had its own videographer on hand; wait fer it on YouTube.

Update: Here's an excellent long article on Poly Pride and its attendees in Chelsea Now, a New York neighborhood's weekly newspaper.

Nice report at Digital Journal.

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Report on Poly Pride Weekend in New York

I just got back from the eighth annual Poly Pride Weekend in New York, by far the biggest yet. It was smashing, and everyone involved is incredibly energized right now. The folks at Polyamorous NYC pulled off five events, each a huge success.

** On Friday evening, as a fundraiser, Poly NYC sponsored what turned out to be the world's largest-ever official Cuddle Party, with 112 people attending at the LGBT Center in the West Village. A Cuddle Party (registered trademark) is a guided exercise in nonsexual touch, comfort, and kindness. Lying in an auditorium floored with mattresses, we listened to instructions on boundary-setting and -respecting, and then devolved into a big, relaxed, interlaced squiggle of hand-holding, hair-petting, massages, spoon-snuggling, and lively conversations for two hours. Watch the New York Post's fine video report on the event. (They filmed only those willing to go on camera.)

** The Poly Pride Rally and Picnic in Central Park lucked out with glorious weather Saturday afternoon from noon to 6. Professional drag-queen emcee Hedda Lettuce introduced a very full lineup of speakers (including me) and entertainers onstage. The crowd numbered about 200 at any one time, with quite a bit of coming and going as the hours went by. I met lots of old poly-community friends, and the extensive publicity that Poly NYC did this year brought an influx of newcomers as well. See photos by Minx.

** That night Poly NYC put on a very hip New York style dance-club party at River Place on the West Side, with a techno-house DJ and outrageous stage performers. This too was a fundraiser, and word is that it cleaned up. The place was jammed from 9 p.m. till 1 a.m.; maximum capacity was 300. This event certainly qualified Polyamorous NYC (whose animated logo was continuously projected on the wall) as one of New York City's hippest, coolest crowds to be in with, for anyone keeping score.

** Sunday saw people packing the independent, radical Bluestockings Bookstore in the East Village for readings and book-signings by many leading poly authors, including Tristan Taormino, Jenny Block, Pete Benson, Leanna Wolfe, Barbara Foster, and others.

** And then capping it off was the first National Polyamory Leadership Summit. This meeting was called by Polyamorous NYC to take advantage of all the poly activists who were in one place this weekend — to introduce people to each other, and to brainstorm ideas about directions we can take, projects we'd like to accomplish, and who can make them happen.

The meeting was by invitation only, with 34 attending. It was held around a ring of tables conference-room style (we even had name signs in front of us!) back at the LGBT Center. The three hours weren't nearly enough. But thanks to an aggressive professional meeting-runner, who does this for major corporations in her day job, it was the most productive meeting of any kind that I ever recall attending. No one made any pretense to represent the poly community as a whole or anyone not present. Instead, we came up with our own lengthy wish-list of resources to create and projects to start. Some of these will be taken on by Loving More, whose leaders were present. Other projects were paired up with competent volunteers capable of making them happen. You'll be seeing more about this in coming months.

More later--

Alan M.

Updates! Read Cunning Minx's blog reports about Poly Pride Day 1, Day 2, the Day 2 party, and Day 3. With links to pix and video. And listen to her Polyamory Weekly podcasts about the event: Part 1; Part 2.

Here is Beki's blog report.

Here's a short video clip of the Raven Schecter Trio performing at the rally. They're a poly triad of three funny Jewish gay guys in dreds. Cute enuf?

Poly Pride comedian and speaker Kelli Dunham blogs about the weekend.

So does The Sex Geek.

Here's an excellent long article on the event and its attendees in Chelsea Now, a New York neighborhood's weekly newspaper.

Nice report at Digital Journal.

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October 3, 2008

Poly Pride Weekend is shaping up big

The biggest-ever Poly Pride Weekend happens in New York City this Friday-Sunday, October 3-5. More than just a fun time, this is shaping up to be a historic event — possibly the largest-ever gathering of poly folks yet.

Schedule of events:

The events begin Friday evening with a Super Massive Cuddle Party at the LGBT Center in Lower Manhattan. Limited number of tickets available.

The main event is the Picnic and Rally Saturday afternoon, with numerous performers and speakers, at the Great Hill in Central Park (enter from Central Park West at 106th St.), from noon to 6. Free, and attendance is unlimited.

Saturday night there's a big Poly Afterparty with lots of performers in a private area of River Place on the West Side overlooking the Hudson. Limited number of tickets available; 300 people maximum.

On Sunday from 12:30 to 2:30 there's a big meet-and-greet and book-signing, with readings, by nine prominent poly authors, at the Bluestockings Bookstore.

Polyamorous NYC announces Thursday morning,


The Village Voice has listed Poly Pride as a Voice Choice. Time Out NY has Pride weekend prominently featured in its table of contents. NY Blade and NY Press have listings. Our extensive lineup of speakers and entertainers have promoted the Rally on their blogs and to 10's of 1,000's of fans through email.... If you're Poly and even if you're not, this is THE event to be at this weekend in New York City.


Afterward, Polyamorous NYC is convening a National Polyamory Leadership Summit to discuss where the movement should go and possible projects to undertake. This is by invitation only.

I'll be there for everything, wearing a nametag. Hope to see you. Look for a tall, narrow guy who often has a goofy grin. Come say hi!

—Alan M.



October 2, 2008

Open Marriage Pro and Con on Tyra Banks

The Tyra Banks Show

The Tyra Banks Show this morning (Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008) ran a segment titled "They're Married, but They Sleep with Other People!" Tyra Banks is a daytime-TV talk show host with a reputation as being not quite as dumb and insipid as others.

Among the show's guests were several successful poly folks and two of our best spokespeople: Birgitte Philippides of Polyamorous NYC, and Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage. Also featured was a survivor of an open marriage gone bad.

I didn't see the show (yet). It should eventually be available online.

Meanwhile, as Jenny puts it, the show's comment site is "burning up." Take a look, and chip in!

For the record, here's the show's promo description:


They're married, but they're dating other people! Meet couples who tied the knot, but still have sex with other partners! First, Tyra talks to Kamala and Michael, a married couple who loves their open relationship -- even embracing each other's additional sexual partners! But it's all not all fun and games as guest Kelly reflects on her experiences with open relationships, and why she's now totally opposed to the lifestyle. Finally, engaged couple Monique and Keith ask their unsuspecting friend to join them in an open relationship!


Update: Anita Wagner describes the show in detail on her Practical Polyamory blog. Her conclusion:


The bottom line is that there were no train wrecks here and I don't think we could have asked for this one to have turned out any better.


Update: Now you can watch it on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

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