Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Polyphobic Religious Extremist News Sides with Gays Against Polyamory

I am a bit agog this morning, though probably shouldn't be. I came across the following (very poorly written) statement at Values Voter News, in their "Merry Christmas" piece - of course! Message: "Nuttin' but love from we Christians to some of you out there, but definitely not all of you!" So bloody Christian of this writer - and so typical. I hope there are Christians somewhere with the ethics to cringe at this.

Most homosexual activists believe (or at least when confronted with the concern that homosexual marriages would lead to polygamist and polyamory marriages they do) that boundary should exclude polygamists and polyamory. Traditional Marriage activist believe marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. Both put limits on marriage for non-discriminatory reasons or non bigotted reasons. Homosexual activists are no more discriminatory of polygamist as traditional marriage advocates are discriminatory of homosexuals. There are many other reason why the two have set boundaries to marriage then discrimination and bigotry.

I'll bet marriage equality leader and spokesman Evan Wolfson is so proud. He's said publicly pretty much what this columnist says before. The marriage equality movement's strategy of marginalizing polyamorists and exploiting the polyphobia of their enemies against polyamory has had the desired effect, in that even the religious extremists, who generally hate all of us, use that message to validate their own polyphobia. The stupid thing about this is that there is very little support amongst polyamorists for a poly right-to-marry effort. It's all about activism strategy, and it really sucks. As I've said before, polyamory and religious polygamy are being exploited in this fight and used as a political football. Yeah, guys, kick us some more why dontcha.

And yes, there, I said it, I used the word. Polyphobia. It obviously exists and is indeed alive and well. Even my own Unitarian Universalist national leadership has (unofficially) asked we polyamorists to moderate our words and visibility within UU community until the marriage equality fight is won. Not all my UU poly friends agree that this is discriminatory, but it sure feels like betrayal to me. Oh well, at least there's SOMETHING marriage equality proponents and opponents can agree on.


I do wish the religious nuts would get off that "only we have values" crap, though it's not bloody likely since it's their delusional PR strategy - see this post for more on that issue.

Once again, I'm given the opportunity to use this graphic - I'm sure it won't be the last.

Rant over.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Afghan Polygamist Husband, the CIA and the Little Blue Pill

There's an interesting (and bemusing) story in the Washington Post this morning about an Afghan Muslim polygamist, age 60, who was having trouble keeping his four younger wives satisfied. What's a guy living in a primitive culture to do? (Well, we all know there are many ways to please a woman, but these are very traditional folks we're talking about here.)

Along came the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It needed information on the Taliban. It's inducement turned out to be an answer to a good Muslim husband (and his wives') prayer, however brief.

I'm very happy for the wives. God knows they deserve all the happiness and pleasure they can manage to have. But I'm also disgusted that this primitive poly family's sex life has been improved but only very briefly by a war machine. Still, we all know that women are routinely abused and oppressed in probably the most patriarchal society still in existence, with the Taliban to blame for setting that standard. So, it seems to me that all we can do is hope that this practice serves the interests of gender equality and that it brings Afghan polygamous families peace and happiness. Nothing makes the day look brighter like a good roll in the sack and the intimately expressed love between beloveds. What the CIA really should do is work with Pfizer to figure out how to make Viagra more available to these families - four little blue pills can't be nearly enough. That and maybe a good urologist.

For more data on the plight of women in Afghanistan today, visit the Unifem Afghanistan website fact sheet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Anita!

I heard Christmas sweaters are back in style, and I thought I'd send out a Christmas/Holiday greeting to all my friends and readers - hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season!

I don't write much about my personal life here normally, but I will share that despite being known as a staunch advocate for polyamorists everywhere, well, yes, I do have a mundane life that is one of my many facets. In that realm, my daughter is about to give birth any day to a son, so it is indeed a joyful time for our family.

I wish you the best of everything in 2009 - success and prosperity to be sure (regardless of the economic forecast). Most of all, I wish you and yours an abundance of love and pleasure and connection of the heart.

I hope to see you in 2009, perhaps at a conference somewhere - if we haven't met, please say hello. Here's to sexual and relationship freedom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren References Multiple Partners In Laundry List of What is "Natural" but Wrong

If you've seen the news in the last 24 hours you've heard that Barak Obama has picked Rev. Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration, to no small amount of consternation on behalf of GLBTs and others who are vigilantly watching Obama's every move for evidence of inclusiveness. Marriage equality advocates are particularly appalled, due to Warren's opposition to same-sex marriage.

Interestingly, the U.S. News and World Report website says that "Warren, author of the bestselling Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has sought to distance himself from Christian right leaders who frame evangelical political concerns mostly around fighting abortion rights and gay rights. At the same time, Warren opposes gay marriage and gay civil unions and has said that he objects to the homosexual lifestyle."

From a rational point of view, if, as the Time Magazine cover states, Warren is the most powerful evangelical in the country, doesn't it make sense that he would be chosen for such an honor as someone who clearly has the support and esteem of a significant segment of the population? It's a much more sizeable segment than the segment that is made up of we GLBTs. I just have to wonder about how those who seek inclusion can seriously challenge Obama's willingness for being inclusive when they aren't being inclusive of the people Obama includes. Seems kind of hypocritical to me, but don't get me wrong, I'm very supportive of marriage equality. After all, asking Warren to give the inaugural invocation hardly means Obama is in Warren's pocket,and I think it would be a mistake to read too much into this decision.

Maybe it's time to really recognize what Obama means when he promises to be inclusive ... to be a uniter and not a divider, and to be EVERYONE's president. He seems very wise to me to take that approach, and by taking it, yes, occasionally an evangelical who opposes what many of us advocate for on behalf of sexual minority groups is going to show up on the radar.

And all that said, I still have my concerns about Rev. Warren, who specifically spoke about multi-partner marriage in remarks to be aired tonight. This morning the Today Show broadcast a piece of teaser footage of Ann Curry's Dateline NBC interview with Rick Warren to be broadcast this evening. Feisty Ann challenged Warren's position on homosexuality and same sex marriage (one man one woman marriage only, if homosexuality is hard wired it must be resisted ....).

Ann asked: "Many of these gay people want to be married because they want to create families, they want to adopt children, they want to create a family that isn't about multiple partners bur about one."

Warren responded, "For 5,000 years, every single culture and every single religion has defined marriage as a man and a woman, not just Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Hinduism, Budhism ..... Why take that word [marriage]? I even have gay friends like Al Rantel at KABC who is opposed to using the word marriage for a gay relationship. Use another term. I am opposed to marriage being used for a relationship between a sister and a brother. ... For an older man and a baby girl. .... For one man and six wives or one wife and six husbands. God said in Genesis one a man and a woman shall cling to each other for life ....

Warren also recited a laundry list of things that are "natural" to humans but must be resisted as wrong. Unfortunately that clip hasn't been posted by NBC and I can't recall all of it, but he included things like fear and other human emotions that can be problematic. What I heard was him advocating for rejecting our very humanity in the name of self-control. Sounded like horseshit to me. Would love to have your comments if you get to see Dateline tonight.

Update - Sheraton and Starwood Censorship of Robyn Ochs Website Ends

Since I wrote this, bisexuality activist Robyn Ochs heard back from the Starwood Hotels who had taken under consideration her insistence that her website not be blocked by public computer in the Starwood chain (Sheraton, W, Westin, and many others). The issue is that the term "bisexual" was being screened out by the software they use which was created by "family-focused" interest groups to offer a "family friendly" hotel atmosphere.

As I've already said, in no way do I advocate for public computers being free of all blocking software - some material *isn't* appropriate for children - but I believe the users of such programs must act responsibly and, as apparently Starwood has done, at minimum make accommodation for non-sexually focused websites like Robyn's, so people using these computers and wishing to contact her, link to her, or find the valuable information she furnishes will be able to do so free of cencorship restrictions. Here's what Robyn has to say in response to Starwood's latest and then the details of Starwood's answer. Woohoo Robyn!

Robyn's update:

UN-censored (follow-up about Starwood Hotels blocking my website)

Dear All,

I received this response today from Starwood Hotels. Good news, I think.

I have a favor to ask of all of you. When you visit public libraries, hotels, cafes, etc., try going to my website. Please let me know if you find access blocked. Send me as much detail as you can (where, when, what message you received).

Warm regards to all,


Dear Ms. Ochs,

Upon further review by our IT team and Legal Department, we have concluded that your website will not be blocked by the filter. In return for lifting the restriction; we ask that you include this follow up on your website.

Ms. Ochs, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to better respond to our clientele. It is our sincere hope this act renews any lost faith with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and wishes you safe travels in the future.

Andrew Walker
Consumer Affairs Executive Division
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Polyamory and Jealousy on wikiHow

How to Practise Polyamory

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

I've just discovered wikiHow, a fascinating repository based on the Wikipedia model where you can find info and write articles on how to do just about anything. Articles include everything from how to create a wreathe to how to supress the gag reflex (hmmm - could come in handy, that), to, yes, how to practice polyamory and how to stop being jealous. Both of the latter two topics are fairly brief and straightforward. The jealousy article isn't presented in a poly context but nevertheless makes many important and accurate points. One must look elsewhere for more indepth treatments of these subjects, but wikiHow gives enough info to get one thinking in the right direction.

Next wikiHow article for me to review - how not to look like an American tourist (in anticipation of traveling to Europe in summer 2009).

Friday, December 12, 2008


Because they are following me on Blogger (which you can also do if desired - click link in the column on the left that says "Follow This Blog"), I just discovered the blog and website of a polyamorous quad in Tennessee that collectively goes by the name Quadfusion or Quadfused Clan, a/k/a Wounded Turtle, Gentle Dog, Bear Claw and Tiger Lily. So now I'm following them, too. Being a transplanted native Tennessean, and considering that Tennessee is still by and large a very conservative place where condemnation for such a life can be very harsh, I'm always intrigued when I discover polyamory growing and flourishing there.

Before reading a word of the blog, I encountered on the blog's home page this wonderful chalk-on-blackboard piece of prose about not caring about the physical attributes and life circumstances of those with whom I wish to connect, but instead the quality of their mind and heart. That's my approach to love and life as much as possible - my Unitarian Universalist principles support that approach, most certainly.

Kudos to Quadfusion - I plan to learn more and maybe even meet up with them some day when I'm visiting the place of my youth, if they are game. I'm met a few other poly Tennesseans over the past 12 years and will always look forward to meeting more of them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NCSF Rocks

The annual Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco is pretty much the granddaddy of the BDSM Leather Fetish celebrations. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom just published the following letter from a very satisfied constituent, i.e. Demetri Moshoyannis, the Folsom Street Fair Executive Director. Helping out with incidents like this is what NCSF does best.

I spent a year as a member of the NCSF Board of Directors, and it was my pleasure to get to know and learn a thing or two from Leigha Flemming (Incident Response Coordinator who wears many other hats as well), founder and media maven Susan Wright, past board chair and loyal, long-time ultra-committed supporter Vivienne Kramer. Since that time the Institute for 21st Century Relationships, which I co-founded with my partner, Jim Fleckenstein, became NCSF's foundation, and now Jim and the NCSF folks are working together to make the US and world safer for people who engage in alternative forms of sexual and relationship expression.

So here's Mr. Moshoyannis's letter of thanks for NCSF's work in helping Folsom Street Fair field an onslaught of attacks from religious extremists who tried over and over to shut down the festival.

Kudos to NCSF!

Moshoyannis writes:

For over a year now, Folsom Street Events has been under attack by anti-gay and religious right groups from across the country. The attacks have been relentless. They have threatened our major sponsorships, picketed our events, called upon public officials to denounce us, and rallied their troops against our community. As a small organization with only two staff members, we do not have the capacity to stand up and respond to these continuing assaults.

We contacted the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom to access the Incident response program. Within hours, we spoke with a highly trained and knowledgeable media and PR consultant for support. In addition to her moral support, we received a meticulous training for our Board of Directors and staff, preparing us to better manage these attacks. Also, the program consultant was able to field all media inquiries - and serve as a positive voice for our community - during our events, so that we could focus on our production duties. We can't thank NCSF enough for their good work and for being there when we needed them.

Demetri Moshoyannis
Executive Director
Folsom Street Fair

Jada Pinkett Smith is SO one of us ... and so is Will

DC's local NBC affiliate's website has video today of interviews with Will Smith and Rosario Dawson on their new film, Seven Pounds. Both discuss Will's nervousness about shooting the steamy love scenes between the two of them.

Apparently this is the first really hot sex scene Will has done. Hard to believe, I know, but apparently true. The interviewer was shocked to hear that Will wanted Jada to be on the set and watching when the scene was shot - which Rosario says he kept putting off until the end of production.

Will says he was very nervous about being in bed with Rosario and her being naked. He didn't want to touch the wrong place or do the wrong thing, and there are all those production people looking on to add to the stress. Sounds like he didn't want rumours getting back to Jada, which seems strange since it's common knowledge that they have an open relationship, at least in theory. In fact, the following is a direct quote from Will:

'In our marriage vows, we didn't say "forsaking all others". We said, "You will never hear I did something afterwards". Because if that happens, the relationship is destroyed.'

Will's also been quoted in the past saying that they have an agreement that if they sexually desire someone, they talk about it and go from there. He has also said that Jada is the queen of his life, and that as along as she is happy and he doesn't do anything to hurt her or make her unhappy, then yes, sexual flings are an option.

At first his reluctance and nervousness on the set seems inconsistent with that admission, but I imagine the burden for public figures is much greater in terms of getting attention from the press about anything that remotely smells of infidelity. I can see why he'd not want any rumors to be flying about that might upset his and Jada's agreement and introduce doubt about their agreement to be transparent to each other when they fancy someone else.

Jada *was* on the set, and she told Will in front of Rosario and others that ...

...he was not to embarrass her (by wimping out) and that he "had to bring it ..."

That Jada is one cool lady! Rosario says there was lots of tongue, and that she could tell it was permitted, though Jada didn't say so specifically.

I hate to think that Hollywood actors actually have to negotiate every move with their realtime loves when they do love scenes with others, but jealousy knows no boundaries when left on its own to do what it will. But of course, most of the movie set sex scenes are carried out with somebody really hot, so I guess it makes sense that it has very real power to push buttons.

Friday, December 5, 2008

(No More) Call for Boycott - Sheraton and all Starwood Hotels

OTE: Since I first posted this article, there has been big news as to this situation. NO BOYCOTT is needed any longer. See here for details.


Robyn Ochs is a tireless, well-known activist for the rights of bisexuals, and she recently posted to Facebook the story of how a Sheraton hotel blocked access to her non-adult not-porn website because a blunt instrument, conservative-agenda-focused software blocking program blocks words like lesbian and bisexual as inappropriate content. Based on what Robyn has written, I'm joining with her in boycotting Sheraton and all Starwood Hotels until Robyn tells us the problem has been satisfactorily resolved. Note that the blocking in question is in place in the hotel's lobby internet facilities, not its in-room service.

Robyn wrote compellingly in response to the Sheraton hotel manager's BS response - the entire story is below. The current status of the matter is that the hotel manager has forwarded her email to the Consumer Affairs Executive Division of Starwood Hotels and Resorts for further consideration.

As a self-identified bisexual female, I say BOO SHERATON! BOO STARWOOD! In intend for none of it to have the pleasure of my company until this is resolved. Specific hotel brands to avoid are

- Meridien

- Four Points

- Westin

- The Luxury Collection

- Loft

- Sheraton

- Element

- St. Regis

- W Hotels


Robyn writes:

Dear All,

Here is my email to Starwood/Sheraton, the response I received from the hotel in Milwaukee that uses SiteCoach to block content in their hotel lobby Internet, and my own response to them:

MY FIRST EMAIL: I stayed in one of your hotels on October 7-8, 2008. When I went to my own website, www.robynochs.com, I was denied access, with the following message: The requested site could not be loaded. 451 The access to the address above is restricted. According to our harmful content database SiteCoach does not allow you to visit this page! An error has occurred while trying to open the page http://www.robynochs.com/ ." From what I now understand, SiteCoach is a right wing company that considers words like "lesbian" inappropriate content. Please tell me that you will stop using this service so that I can continue staying at Sheraton Hotels.

Robyn Ochs
Boston, MA


Dear Ms. Ochs,

Thank you for feedback regarding the Sheraton Link. This program has been met with much success since its launch by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

I have fully reviewed your concerns over having your site and the Sheraton Link in the lobby. The company that installs and maintains the systems have promoted these systems to a kid friendly, family friendly environment. I am sure you can understand that there are several sites on the internet that are viewed as offensive by the general public and for that reason, programs have been developed to ensure that the majority of viewers are met with non-offensive material. Your site in particular isn’t what I would call “offensive” but certain words must have been picked up within the filter that restricted public access to your site; I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.

Regrettably the system will not allow us to change the filters to allow your site to be viewed at the Sheraton Link. I appreciate your efforts to educate the public on your views and wish you continued success in doing so. We appreciate your loyalty to Starwood and hope this unfortunate scenario has not altered your opinion of an award winning company and hope to see you in our hotels in the near future.



Dear Peter,

I appreciate your attempt to "put lipstick on this pig" as well as your personal support of my work, but unfortunately there is a false logic underlying the use of a block that considers words like "lesbian" and "bisexual" offensive to the "general public." These words connote identities. There is nothing inherently offensive about them. And the "general public" that you seek not to offend includes many people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, including many youth. In fact, much of my own work involves work with youth aged 14-21. When you add our families and friends to our numbers, we ARE the "general public" to which you refer. If someone else finds the words with which I describe my own identity offensive, that is their business. No one is being forced to visit sites that contain these words. Finally, your letter makes me wonder by what measurement has this program "met with much success"? I'm afraid that your company's use of SiteCoach IS sufficient reason for me to stop doing business with your hotel chain. I should also forewarn you that I will be publicizing this incident on Facebook and encouraging others to boycott Starwood/Sheraton hotels as well. I hope that your company will come to its senses and cease acting as censors.

Robyn Ochs (a.k.a. Jane Q. Public)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Hired Non-Expert

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Dan Gottlieb recently discussed on NPR's Morning Edition the subject of non-monogamy in the context of findings in the General Social Survey that men and women of all ages are unfaithful. Brenda, the interviewer, references Jenny Block's book Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage. Like clockwork, Gottlieb, yet another hired expert marriage and family therapist like Dr. Diana Kirschner whose lack of awareness on the subject of open marriage I comment on in this post, declares: "... a lot of younger couples when they do have these internet flirtations [believe] that it enhances the romantic and sexual relationship. Well, it does, in the short run, and it does in the moment." So he gets that variety in one's love life can be beneficial. But then he continues by saying "... in the 70s we tried open marriage and we tried swinging and all that stuff. Doesn't work, period. It can't work in the long run, being unfaithful, because ultimately relationships are about trust."

He's right - they absolutely are about trust. Where his arguments break down is where he fails to get that trust is not broken when monogamy is absent from the relationship agreement by mututal consent. Also, common wisdom from a variety of fronts says that we already know free love doesn't work because we tried it in the 1970s without success. I can see why some think that's proof enough, but what they don't know is that free love back in the day was fraught with problems because its practitioners lacked the relationship/communication skills and in most cases the integrity to conduct their relationships in ways that work for all involved. As I am fond of saying, polyamory and open marriage today, with their increased awareness of what works and what doesn't, are Free Love 2.0.

Newsflash: It's not the sex/love with others that damages a marrage, it is the violation of the promise *not* to enter into other sexually intimate relationships that is guaranteed to damage trust. Seems entirely feasible to me for a reasonably savvy therapist to intuit, but the ones I hear speak to the subject don't fulfill that hope.

We have so much work yet to do to educate these therapists as to the truth. Some of that can be accomplished with information campaigns, and some of it via peer-reviewed studies. Clearly, and understandably, even those therapists who are so highly regarded as to be hired to speak on radio and TV don't have experiences that demonstrate that it is entirely possible to maintain trust while conducting an open marriage or poly relationship. Not only is it possible, but I and my partner, T, are happily making it work, as are hundreds of other polyfolk I know.

I agree with Gottlieb, to a degree, when he goes on to say, "I think there is another factor, Brenda, with infidelity. There is ample research that we have fewer intimate friends. There is a longing for human contact, whether we are aware of it or not. As a result of our increased isolation, we have more and more expectations on our partner. They have to be our lover, our best friend, our soulmate, the one who understands us - it's not reasonable for one person. And when they don't meet all of those needs, we think there is something wrong in the marriage, we get angry and disappointed, and many go outside to try to get those needs met."

He's right, of course, that it is very difficult to be all things to one person. What he is implying is that developing emotionally (but not sexually) intimate friendships are the solution. I'm sure Gottlieb is a lovely and knowledgable man, and with a little more vision and understanding of the dynamics of successful open relationships, he may be a potential convert.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Need One Another

I saw Vince Gill, Winona Judd, and Bebe and Cece Winans perform this together live on Oprah last week. The song put to the images here is even more moving - enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marianne Williamson on America's Non-Violent Revolution

OK, so I'm continuing my examination of the outcome of last week's presidential election for a little longer. The following certainly isn't poly-specific, yet I know how much it resonates with the idealists amongst us.

I've been a fan of Marianne Williamson for many years. Her latest blog post on the election of Barak Obama is, as is often true for her, an inspiration that superlatives fail to adequately describe, so as always, I'll leave it to you to judge for yourself. Williamson writes:

In the l960's, we wanted peace but we ourselves were angry. This time, after hearing Gandhi's call that we must be the change we want to see happen in the world, we came to our political efforts with an understanding that we must cast violence from our hearts and minds if we are to cast it from our world; that we must try to love our enemies as well as our friends; and that when a genius of world-historic proportions emerges among us, we cannot and we must not fail to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to support him. For his sake…and for ours.

Having gone to a higher place within ourselves, a higher level of leadership began to emerge among us. A higher level of leader now having emerged among us, he calls us to an even higher place within ourselves. These two forces together can and will, as Obama has said, truly change the world. Having moved one mountain, we'll now remove the ones that remain.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Obama!

WOOOO HOOOOO! Today was an amazing, amazing day. Hope and sanity have returned to the United States. Beginning in January it's going to be a lot more fun working a block from the White House than it has been for the last eight years.

And THANK DIETY that Sarah Palin won't be vice president. That woman is seriously scary.


McCain is giving a gracious concession speech as I write this. He has acknowledged the significance of this day for African Americans. I am so happy for my African American friends and the African American community. Some thought they would never live to see this day come. Sadly, Obama's grandmother died yesterday, the day before her dear grandson made history.

This just hit my in box. One of the things I've enjoyed as an Obama supporter has been how personalized the Obama campaign's correspondence with supporters has been. This is what Obama has to say before even making his acceptance speech.

From: Barack Obama
To: Anita Wagner
Sent: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 11:34:44 PM
Subject: How this happened

Anita --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Vote for Obama is a Vote for Freedom of Relationship Choice

OK, folks, for the next 72 hours or so I'm going to go all political on ya, but I'll do my best to keep it light. If you're a regular reader and you don't want to hear/read it, feel free to move on, but please come back soon! I'll miss you.

Yes, I'm a proud Obama/Biden voter. I believe him to be fair-minded and open-minded. I'm hoping that will translate to at least not actively opposing alternative relationships. He's shown no sign of intention to do so, his unwillingness to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples notwithstanding.

I'm greatly impressed with Barak Obama's intellect and approachable persona. He reminds me so much of Bill Clinton in that regard. Whatever he may lack in long-term Washington experience is to my mind a good thing. He's been a senator long enough to know how things work there, but not long enough to become like so many of the long-timers in Congress, i.e. cynical, jaded, and out of touch.

Like so many others, I'm very tired of the Washington political operative game. Still, I like Joe Biden just fine. I have always believed he is one of the exceptions. He's managed to keep his head on straight and to work the political process to his constituents' advantage, and as a long-time senator he will bring that long-term knowledge of how things work in Washington, as well as his significant foreign policy experience, to the Obama administration.

Considering how the Bush administration has stripped away significant portions of our right to privacy and personal freedom, I've been ready for a change for about seven and a half years now. Considering Bush's cozy relationship with the religious right, there was no way in hell anything would happen that would facilitate the furthering of rights for polyfolk. In fact, for a good while Bush sought to have the U.S. Constitution amended so that legal marriage would only be available to ONE man and ONE woman only.

I think Sarah Palin is both annoying and downright scary, what with her religious extremist views, her smug rejection of global warming as a concept, her inability to cite one major newspaper she regularly reads to stay informed, and her inability to put together a complete, intelligent, non-bullshit sentence. (Sound familiar??)

Palin doesn't and really can't have a clue. Her educational background is shoddy at best, and as a public servant limited to a backwater town and state that in no way is representative of much of the rest of the U.S., she has been used to being able to abuse her power (troopergate) in a way that was stupidly naive. McCain's picking her as a running mate is abusive, cynical, and downright cruel. Clearly he doesn't think he needs a functional VP, and clearly Palin doesn't have the brains to see that she's being exploited, or that said exploitation has backfired bigtime. Besides all that, she and George Bush have way too much in common - why would we want to give a female version of W a chance at the oval office? We've had enough of that kind of idiocy.

I suppose I could live with John McCain if I had to - if God forbid he wins, I don't have much of a choice unless I'm willing to move to Canada or some other country, which I'm not. I'm one of those patriotic Americans who thinks that moving out of the country makes a person a big part of the problem. I believe in staying put, speaking my truth, and working for change. Yet I'm also all for personal freedom, including the freedom to not love America, to not live here, and to not be an American citizen. I won't like you much if you do that, but I support your freedom to make that choice.

I think Obama's meme that McCain will bring another four years of disastrous Bush policies is right on and not simply an empty soundbite. It's clear to me that McCain is just as out of touch with all but the wealthy elite in the U.S. as Bush is.

There are a few conservatives with whom I am close. One good friend, one quasi-partner, and just about all of my family of origin, though saying I am close to the latter is probably an overstatement.

Please tough out the long lines, assuming that's what happens, and cast your vote. Please cast it for Barak Obama. Neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin are poly-friendly people AT ALL. We've just experienced eight years of an administration that actively seeks to limit our personal freedom - why would we elect someone who brings four more years of the same?

I promised to keep it light so here ya go - enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Response Re: Polyamory Rights, Proposition 8, and the ACLU

This is my response to the letter from Anthony Romero (see this post), Executive Director of the ACLU, regarding support for California Proposition 8 on election day, November 4, 2008:

Hi Anthony -

You wrote of your mother, "She knew that treating gay and lesbian people like second class citizens -- people who may be worthy of "tolerance, " as Sarah Palin asserts, but not of equality -- was and still is the last socially-acceptable prejudice." I hear your pain in that sentence. Correction - I hear OUR pain, and I hear a lack of awareness in that statement. Socially-acceptable prejudice is thriving against the polyamory community, as well as against other sexual minority groups,

In her keynote address at the October 4, 2008 polyamory pride rally in Central Park, queer and sex-positive activist Tristan Taormino said the following:

"Some gays and lesbians have responded to the charge of the “slippery slope” by calling it ridiculous, but others have defended gay marriage by denouncing polyamory. What about those of us who are queer and poly? Queers and polyfolk have a lot in common, and we need to recognize the ways we can help each other. Queer people must stand up and say we believe in the rights of everyone to love, commit to, and marry whomever they want. We must not throw polyamory under the bus in favor of advancing queer marriage rights."

Considering that, as Tristan points out, a sizeable segment of GLBTs also live a poly life, I am reminded of the quote from the venerable cartoon Pogo, "We have met the enemy... and he is us"

The wider polyamory community is well aware that those who've worked so hard for GLBT rights and marriage equality are paving the way for acceptance and equality for polyamorists and other sexual minorities, and we are grateful, even though some of the marriage equality leaders have denied our existence and that our issues exist and are equally legitimate. I get that doing otherwise is believed to place marriage equality in jeopardy thanks to Stanley Kurtz's slippery slope messaging, but it hurts nevertheless to see those who should surely recognize the injustice in that strategy adopt it nevertheless.

We polyamorists certainly have work to do to eradicate anti-poly bias, and we are doing it. Today polyamory is being mainstreamed, largely through strong interest from print, broadcast and electronic media. As polyamory awareness is increased, more and more people oppose what we do. More and more poly people experience discrimination on the job, in family courts where child custody is at stake, and by their friends, family and religious institution. Our heartbreaking experience of discrimination is the same as yours and so many other GLBTs. I hope that as time passes and dyadic marriage equality is made a reality, those who have fought for it will respond to the support we polyfolk have given at crucial times like the upcoming vote on Proposition 8 by proclaiming their support for our rights and our equality.

Thanks for considering!

Polyamory Rights, Proposition 8, and the ACLU

DEAR READERS: Below is a moving story from Anthony Romero, a gay man who is Executive Director of the ACLU. He is requesting support for the defeat of Proposition 8 in California that will take away marriage equality, to which I will next post my e-mailed response to him.

It is indeed important that poly people in California vote no on Proposition 8. Some same-sex couples also live a polyamorous life, and we are all in this together. Defeat of Prop 8 is very important because first, it's a social justice issue that deserves all our support, and second, Stanley Kurtz is right about the existence of the slippery slope as multi-partner marriage is concerned. The difference in our point of view is that we know that isn't a bad thing and that his viral handwringing is a waste of time, whereas he believes that the marital sky is falling. - Anita

Dear ACLU Supporter,

I'm angry and heartsick about what may happen in California on November 4th.

In the most personal way possible, I'm writing to ask you for a favor: help us ensure that gay couples all across California keep their fundamental right to marriage -- the basic right to be treated just like anybody else.

I hope you will forgive the indulgence when I speak from the heart and tell you my personal story.

You see, I grew up in a loving and supportive household, where my family believed I could be anything I chose -- anything except being an openly gay man. Neither of my parents finished high school, and yet, they believed I could accomplish all I set out to do as I went off to Princeton University and Stanford Law School.

They got me through the toughest of times, scrimped and saved, and always believed that failure wasn't in the cards for me. They had more faith in me than I often had in myself. Whenever my parents visited me at Princeton, my Dad would slip a $20 bill in my pocket when my Mom wasn't looking. I never had the courage to tell him that the $20 wouldn't go very far towards my bills, books and tuition. But, it was his support and belief in me that sustained me more than the tens of thousands of dollars I received in scholarships.

When I finished college, they were hugely proud of my -- and their -- accomplishments. That was until I told them I was gay and wanted to live life as an openly gay man.

Though I always knew I was gay, I didn't come out to them for many years, as I was afraid of losing the love and support that had allowed me to succeed against all odds. When I did tell them, they cried and even shouted. I ended up leaving their home that night to spend a sleepless night on a friend's sofa. We were all heartbroken.

When my Mom and I spoke later, my Mom said, "But, Antonio (that's the name she uses with me), hasn't your life been hard enough? People will hurt you and hate you because of this." She, of course, was right -- as gay and lesbian people didn't only suffer discrimination from working class, Puerto Rican Catholics, but from the broader society. She felt that I had escaped the public housing projects in the Bronx, only to suffer another prejudice -- one that might be harder to beat -- as the law wasn't on my side. At the time, it felt like her own homophobia. Now I see there was also a mother's love and a real desire to protect her son. She was not wrong at a very fundamental level. She knew that treating gay and lesbian people like second class citizens -- people who may be worthy of "tolerance, " as Sarah Palin asserts, but not of equality -- was and still is the last socially-acceptable prejudice.

Even before I came out to them, I struggled to accept myself as a gay man. I didn't want to lose the love of my family, and I wanted a family of my own -- however I defined it. I ultimately chose to find my own way in life as a gay man. This wasn't as easy as it sounds even though it was the mid-1980s. I watched loved ones and friends die of AIDS. I was convinced I would never see my 40th birthday, much less find a partner whom I could marry.

As years passed, my Mom, Dad and I came to a peace, and they came to love and respect me for who I am. They even came to defend my right to live with equality and dignity -- often fighting against the homophobia they heard among their family and friends and in church.

The right to be equal citizens and to marry whomever we wish -- unimaginable to me when I first came out -- is now ours to lose in California unless we stand up for what's right. All of us must fight against what's wrong. In my 43 short years of life, I have seen gay and lesbian people go from pariahs and objects of legally-sanctioned discrimination to being on the cusp of full equality. The unimaginable comes true in our America if we make it happen. But, it requires effort and struggle.

One of the things I love about the ACLU is that it's an organization that understands we are all in this together. We recognize that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Given what's at stake in the outcome of this election, I am personally appealing to you for help to fight the forces of intolerance from carrying the day in California next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. You can send them a message here.

We need to make sure people keep in mind that gay people are part of every family and every community -- that like everyone else, gay people want the same rights to commit to their partners, to take care of each other and to take responsibility for each other. We shouldn’t deny that, and we shouldn’t write discrimination into any constitution in any state. Certainly, we can't let that happen in California after the highest court in the state granted gay and lesbian people their full equality.

Unfortunately, due to a vicious, deceitful $30 million advertising blitz, the supporters of Prop 8 may be within days of taking that fundamental right away.

To stop the forces of discrimination from succeeding, we have to win over conflicted voters who aren't sure they're ready for gay marriage but who are also uncomfortable going into a voting booth and stripping away people's rights. With the ACLU contributing time, energy and millions of dollars to the effort, we're working hard to reach those key voters before next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. Share this email with them. Call them. Direct them to our website for more information.

Don't let other young people grow up to be afraid to be who they are because of the discrimination and prejudice they might face. Let them see a future that the generation before them couldn't even dream of -- a future as full and equal citizens of the greatest democracy on earth.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." As we strive to defeat Prop 8 and the injustice it represents, the ACLU is trying to make that arc a little shorter.

On behalf of my Mom and family, and on behalf of all the people who will never face legally-sanctioned discrimination, I thank you for being part of this struggle and for doing everything you can to help.

It is a privilege and honor to have you as allies in this fight for dignity and equality.

With enormous appreciation,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

P.S. All the polls show that the vote on Prop 8 could go either way. By making just a few calls or sending just a few emails, you could help make the difference. Please, don’t let this fundamental right be taken away. Send an eCard to everyone you know in California.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poly Values and Poly Bashing in the Illinois Review

The Illinois Review is a blog that describes itself as "the crossroads of the conservative community." Laurie Higgins, Director, Division of School Advocacy, Illinois Family Institute, posted a handwringing oppositional blog post regarding Chicago's proposed LGBT high school.

Note: The Illinois Family Institute is closely affiliated with Concerned Women for America and other religious extremist group with a long history of directly interfering with the rights of sexual minority groups. Most notably they threatened to prompt their religious conservative followers to boycott Chicago area hotels as a way of pressuring hotel owners to cancel legal contracts with organizers of conventions that serve sexual minorities.

In her post, where Higgins attempts to demonstrate that establishing an LGBT high school is a bad idea, she draws a hypothetical comparison to a high school for polyamorous students, and she writes...

"....at least for now, society largely holds the moral conviction that polyamory is immoral ..."

Of course, I couldn't let this stand without comment. I began by referencing remarks made by polyamory author Tristan Taormino on October 4, 2008 at polyamory pride rally in NYC's Central Park:

"....what is scariest of all to our enemies: we practice what they preach. We have values. We have many of the exact same values that they claim over and over we don’t. Values is such a loaded term, it has become laced with religion and morality and the conservative right wing has tried to equate values, like family values, with a heterosexual, 2-parent, married, nuclear family. 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."

As the number of polyamorists continues to increase and greater awareness of what polyamory is and is not is achieved, that goal will be accomplished.

Polyamorists love their partners, their children, and value their intentional families just as much as monogamists value theirs. In our sex-sick culture, where sex is openly feared and denigrated while billions are spent behind closed doors on viewing pornography, it is not a surprise that it is the sexual aspect of polyamorous relationships on which sex-obsessed opponents choose to fixate. Polyamorists value healthy adult sexuality in a much more positive way than much of the rest of society, but we are no more sex-focused than monogamists.

It is downright bizarre to see how in other instances our opponents sensationalize our sex lives when in reality we are regular people who focus on sex no more, and possibly even less, than our opponents. Contrary to what some gutter-minded opponents say about us, we are no more likely to sexually abuse our children or expose them to inappropriate sexual activities than anyone else - keep in mind also that this happens at an alarming rate in so-called traditional families. Yet we are frequently referred to by our opponents in the same breath with pedophilia and bestiality. No one segment of society singles out monogamous sex lives for degradation. Multiple partners notwithstanding, polyamorists' sex lives are just as normal, and focusing on them is just as unwelcome, intrusive, and inappropriate.

Polyamorous values include openness and honesty with one's partners and reject outright as unethical and immoral the societal status quo of sneaking around and having secret affairs. Check the statistics on cheating in mainstream society - it is rampant.

The claim that society largely holds the conviction that polyamory is immoral is true only to the extent that it is blind to its own hypocricy. With that in mind, can anyone say with a straight face that the status quo of traditional marriage is more moral than polyamorous relationships? Clearly not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Compersion for Beginners on YourTango.com

There's a good article on compersion on the women's sex and love webzine YourTango.com. I love that this subject - something most people have never heard of or even imagined - is being explored on a women's mainstream venue. Too cool. It concludes with the following words:

These women are unapologetically happy with their non-monogamous relationships, and compersion appears to be a cherished benefit of this lifestyle. For these women, love is not a zero-sum game; it can be shared and enjoyed across multiple people in non-traditional formats.

It's great to be one of those women!

Speeches at Poly Pride Rally

Several of the speakers at the Poly Pride Rally in New York City on October 3, 2008, on the Great Hill in Central Park have posted their remarks online: keynoter and poly author Tristan Taormino (pictured here) who inspired us all, author Jenny Block, who spoke on communication and her experiences since her book was published a few months ago, Polyamory-in-the-News blogger Alan M. with a cautionary message, anthropologist Leanna Wolfe on polyamory culture, and my remarks on the mainstreaming of polyamory.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Miss Polyamory on Poly Pride Weekend

This is a short post to introduce my readers to Beki Rosenthal, a/k/a Miss Polyamory. Beki and I have been on-line friends for a while, but the Poly Pride event gave us an opportunity to meet face to face for the first time, and it was truly a pleasure. She is doing great things for polyamory in South Florida. She's also conducting poly relationships skills workshops and coaching via conference call so check her out at the link above.

Beki posted on Youtube a video account of her experiences in NYC for Poly Pride Weekend. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dan Savage Slams Poly Pride Event

Dan Savage is an asshole. I know that's not news, but his latest "slog" post in the Seattle Stranger demonstrates his common tendency to crap all over people and events just for the misanthropic fun of it.

It doesn't matter that he is generally pro poly. His is the last opinion I'd value on that question. What does matter is that his toxic, scornful cynicism leads him to step on his own dick while at the same time slandering others and poisoning the minds of his readers against them:

But What If I Like The Way My Assumptions About Men and Women Are Framed? posted by Dan Savage on October 14 at 11:35 AM

"I’m not a big proponent of monogamy, as most everyone is certainly aware by this point, and I’m generally pro-polyamory, even if “many loves” aren’t for me. I had a hard enough time conning one dude into putting up with my shit; I can’t imagine that I could possibly con two or three dudes."

Anita: No surprise there!

"But at the risk of sounding polyphobic, I have to say that this event sounds like hell on earth:"

Quoting an article on DigitalJournal.com:

Sure, it doesn’t have the turnout of the annual Gay Pride Parade in New York City but the Poly Pride Weekend made its way to The Big Apple and just celebrated its 8th annual event.

To kick off the celebration, there was a Super Massive Cuddle Party that allowed registrants a discounted opportunity to engage in multi-person, multi-gender activity and was '…a place for people to rediscover non-sexual touch and affection, a space to reframe assumptions about men and women, and a great networking event to meet new friends, roommates, business partners and significant others.'

Dan continues:

"Uh… yeah. That’s where I want to meet my new business partners and roommates—in a pile of folks copping feels in Central Park. Another reason to miss the Super Massive Cuddle Party—youth pastors!"

The article continues:

An article in the NYT gives a sneak peak into the life of Diana Adams, a Cornell-educated attorney and the VP of Polyamourous NYC. Adams, who use to be a youth minister in a Christian church and is now involved with both men and women on a regular basis.

Oh, where to begin? First, no one said cuddle parties are for everyone. Heck, they're not even for me really. I'm an affectionate person toward people once I've had enough time to get to know and like them, but I've tried cuddle parties and FOR ME it takes a bit more time to feel comfortable than the situation allows. I'm not particularly interested in cuddling with strangers.

That doesn't mean cuddle parties aren't great experiences and phenominal events for many others. They offer exercises in emotional growth, boundary setting, and just plain fun and healing. It's a way for people who don't have enough touch in their lives to get it in a non-sexually charged atmosphere, and there's nothing unhealthy or, God forbid, sex-negative about it. Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baszynski, the Cuddle Party founders, are great community leaders and savvy poly practitioners who are also valuable role models. Dan Savage would be lucky to count them as friends. I know I am.

As for his slam on Diana Adams because she USED TO BE a youth minister, Diana is yet another valuable community leader and role model who at last month's Loving More East Coast Conference in Greenwich, NY, gave a keynote speech during which she said that her goal is to make sure that every student on college campuses knows that they have options in how they organize their intimate relationships. She is bright, energetic, ambitious, and serves the polyamory community in many ways, not the least of which is her crusade to provide legal assistance to polyamorists who are victims of bias and discrimination on the job and in the family courts when child custody is challenged. Again, I am glad to be able to count her as a friend.

Together Reid, Marcia and Diana have done more good for more people than Dan Savage ever will, at least until he does some serious work on that dissocial personality of his.

Yes, Dan pissed me off, and yes, I'm biased. I have no regrets about that particular bias, since I consider it entirely reasonable to favor people who actually do great things to serve their community instead of sitting around shooting their mouth off and denigrating others who do.

And as if all that weren't enough, I found the smug comment of Dawgson to reflect very poorly on the Seattle poly community, which I know to be vibrant and full of positive, welcoming energy. I have many friends there. Dawgson wrote, "Am I the only one that's shocked the Poly Pride Parade isn't being hosted here in Seattle?"

Maybe Dawgson needs to get up off his behind and make it happen like the amazing group of people who get the credit for bringing the dynamic Poly Pride Rally and related events into being.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poly Pride Celebration in NYC

Polyamorous NYC's polyamory pride weekend happened this past weekend, and I'm still flying high on the incredible energy that typified every single experience I had there. I have to say right up front what a fantastic job Polyamorous NYC did in organizing and producing this event. Producer Lyndell Moore (in picture to the right, second from the left) deserves big props, as does Poly NYC president Birgitte Philippides (far left), under whose capable and dedicated leadership this event spread its wings and soared, along with the support of founder Justen Michael Bennett-Maccubbin (3rd from the left) and all of the committee members who together created a weekend I'll always remember.

The event spawned press coverage both in the New York Times and the New York Post , plus interest from others like a free-lance film maker who gathered footage to support a poly documentary pitch to HBO and who interviewed many speakers and attendees at the Saturday afternoon rally and picnic.

Polyamory Weekly podcaster Cunningminx was also there, and it was a great pleasure to both meet her (finally!) and once again be interviewed for the podcast. (See picture of Minx and me above.) You can hear Minx's podcast coverage part one of two of the event and my interview (28 minutes in) here. And of course, Alan M. of Polyamory in the News was also there documenting the day's events.

I also had the honor of introducing to one another two of this year's new poly book authors, Tristan Taormino and Jenny Block, with me at left. Also it was the first time Jenny and I have met, though we've been on-line friends and collaborators for many months now.

Here's a picture of me (taken by Minx - thanks, Minx!) on the podium where I spoke about The Mainstreaming of Polyamory.

Entertainment at the rally was outstanding. I especially enjoyed America's Got Talent competitors the Glamazons - four sassy big women pictured here who are the stuff of many a wet dream - and the Raven Schecter trio who were both polished and hilarious. Here's a piece of their performance also recorded by Minx.

You can find a complete list of the speakers and performers here, and, not surprisingly, Tristan Taormino's keynote address was both entertaining and inspiring. I especially appreciated her call for the Same-Sex Marriage Movement to stop "throwing polyamory under the bus." What she is referring to is the ill-advised distancing from polyamory the SSM leadership does - primarily its leader, Evan Wolfson - in order to avoid any confirmation that Stanley Kurtz's slippery slope actually exists - which it does as multi-partner marriage is concerned. Politically expedient or not, that practice is unethical and discriminatory.

OK, down off my soap box and on with Poly Pride events review.

And that, so far, is just what I had to tell you regarding the picnic and rally, which was the feature event of the weekend. In addition to that, there was a Friday night cuddle party, the largest held anywhere ever, with over 110 people in attendance.

On Saturday night there was an awesome after party held in a classy loft space overlooking the Hudson River. There was a great DJ and a steady stream of performers from the vamping drag performers the Pixie Harlots to talented burlesque performer Nasty Canasta

And as if all that weren't enough, Sunday morning brought us a fabulous poly book authors reading and signing event where nine authors read from their works. It was held at the Blue Stockings radical book store in the east Village, and the room was packed - clearly the late partiers didn't let anything stop them from soaking up all that poly wisdom.

Lastly, 34 poly leaders, activists and community organizers gathered for a well-facilitated summit on polyamory activism during which there was a great exchange of ideas that sparked synergy that I look forward to sharing and building on in the days, weeks and months ahead. The next poly leadership summit will be held on Monday, March 2, 2009, following the Poly Living conference to be held the previous weekend, February 27 to March 1 in the Philadelphia suburbs. Poly Living is put on by the Loving More organization, which was well represented at poly pride weekend by Loving More Managing Director Robyn Trask and her partner Jesus Garcia. (Pictured here with Tristan Taormino and myself.) One of the biggest benefits to the polyamory community of this poly pride weekend is that many of the priorities recognized at the leadership summit are also priorities Loving More has already been pursuing. There was so much enthusiasm from those gathered for helping Loving More to move those projects along that Loving More will benefit and so will the polyamory community.

Whew! Once again, I can't thank Poly-NYC enough for all their hard work in putting on this historic polyamory pride event. Years from now it will be seen as a time when polyamory in all its colors and shapes and sizes took a big step forward toward becoming the legitimate, vibrant and gratifying choice in intimate relationship structure that it truly is.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Juliet Huddy is No Fan of Mine ....

It's unfortunate that Blogger for some reason failed to send me for publishing a strongly-worded comment from Mornings with Mike and Juliet show host Juliet Huddy when she sent it to me on September 26. She is definitely not happy with me and my assessment of the outcome of the September 25 segment of the show on open marriage that featured author Jenny Block.

In Ms. Huddy's comment, which I posted today as soon as I received it, she certainly gave me the full force of her opinion, to wit:

As the host of the show you just maligned, I'd like to respond to your accusations. Suggesting my colleagues are inserting their political leanings into the content of our show is not only offensive, it's wrong. Suggesting they lack integrity is also offensive, and WRONG.

The 'missing segment' you're referring to was a mistake made by a young webmaster, it's as simple as that. There was no strategy to eliminate your "side"; there was no conspiracy. It was an oversight and it was corrected immediately.

Our producers came up with this topic because they felt it was worthy of discussion. They worked hours trying to find a fair balance, and they achieved that goal. Mike and I both agree it's a fantastic, interesting, worthy subject to discuss.

The only one who lacks integrity...

Well, let's just say it's easy to buy into stereotypes ("Of course, this is Fox we're talking about here"). It's also real simple pick up a phone and get the facts. Your sneering comments about Fox and our fantastic, fair producers are inane. Fox gave you an outlet to air your side, which Jenny did quite eloquently. Do your homework and quit insulting my colleagues.

I went back and read my original post, and though I can see why it may not please her, I'm having a hard time seeing myself through her eyes. Yes, I made a couple of assumptions that turn out to be incorrect, but as you will see below, I believe they were reasonable ones based on the facts at hand in the moment. So, by and large, after mulling it all over I really must stand by what I said. Here is my response to Ms. Huddy:

Ms. Huddy, I can understand your anger and your desire to defend your producers. Perhaps in your pique you did not notice that the same day the open marriage segment aired I added an amendment to the very top of the post that says that when asked to make the entire segment available instead of only the anti-open marriage portion of it, your producers agreed to do so. There was no reason for me to believe that the duties as to what goes up on your website would be left in the hands of someone who was not up to the task. Impressions count for a lot, and for whatever reason, the failure to include both sides of the story gave a very poor one.

Also, unfortunately for you and your show, Fox has a well-established reputation for leaning to the right. My perception is founded in reality and not on stereotype. There is plenty of data to illustrate that Fox has a vested interest in not offending the conservative base that represents the majority of its viewers. When one then factors in that anything other than life-long, heterosexual, one man/one woman marriage is considered contemptible by social conservatives, there is absolutely no reason for me to believe that your show is somehow exempt. You may not like being judged by the company you keep, but it is a fact of life. That said, based on the information you have provided I am willing to accept that it is possible that not all Fox programming is the same. I’m happy for the update and your defense of your producers, but in truth what is unknown here is to what extent your programming is controlled by Fox executives.

Fox’s intentions would have been a lot more clear had Dr. Kirschner not been given the last word. Many psychologists think they know all there is to know about open relationships and are only too happy to speak on the subject for pay, lack of knowledge notwithstanding. In fact, there exists amongst untrained therapists an inexperience-based bias against open relationships because all they see are people for whom it isn't working. People for whom it is working don’t seek them out, so their "knowledge" is based on a flawed and incomplete perspective. It is entirely untrue that failure is inevitable in open relationships. I know many, many couples for whom it works and works well, and as they learn and implement the relationship skills required, there are more of those all the time. Your show ended by giving quite a different impression without asking Jenny Block or any other person for their response. As such, I stand by my criticism of that aspect of the show.

I appreciate that there was interest in the subject, and should that interest continue, I'd be happy to assist your producers to be sure that any future treatment of it achieves their goal of being genuinely fair and complete.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Where's the Poly Pride Update?", you ask. Also, Poly in NY Times and NY Post

Several of you have written saying you're waiting for me to post about the Poly Pride weekend celebration in NYC this past weekend. I hope to get that up later today. The delay is attributable to a very late arrival home Sunday, being jammed at work Monday and Tuesday, a root canal last night, and to top it off, scheduling time off work and pre-surgical testing in anticipation of knee surgery on October 17. And of course, there was the presidential debate last night. But never fear, I've got a lot of juicy stuff to post and you'll have it soon.

In the interim, here are links to the articles in the NY Times and the New York Post that coincided with the Poly Pride event. (You may have to log in or create a membership to see the articles.) Note that the NY Post article includes a great picture of the fabulous folks who put together all the way cool Poly Pride events that happened over the course of this past weekend.

I got a laugh out of The Agitator's morning links today, which includes a reference to the Agitator's very clever parody, Careless Whispers, posted in 2004, on Stanley Kurtz's same-sex marriage, um, issues,

Polyamory hits the New York Times, Stanley Kurtz’s head a’splodes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Open Marriage on Tyra Banks

Today Tyra Banks dedicated her show on the Fox network to open marriage. She first featured Kamala and Michael, a polyamorous married couple. Tyra asked Kamala and Michael about their rules for conducting other relationships. Kamala said they have four rules, but Tyra let the discussion move on before Kamala got to finish the questions. However, the two that were included were important, i.e. open, honest communication as #1, and safer sex practices as #2.

It was very beneficial that Kamala’s girlfriend of 12 years, Sarah, was also a guest. A fair amount of time was spent establishing the chronology of Kamala and Sarah and Michael’s relationships with each other, and a lovely example resulted of how open relationships can work and work well over the long term, even as new partners come into the picture. As other members of what I’ll call their intimate network were introduce and referred to, it was interesting to see the shocked looks on some of the audience members’ faces. I realize this kind of family structure is unthinkable to some people, and I don’t mean to belittle their naiveté, but I did find it rather exciting to see an intimate network of people demonstrate how it is done and done successfully.

A couple of standard questions were asked and answered well by Kamala - she's a great spokesperson, by the way. Tyra remarked that Kamala, Michael and family all had long hair and asked whether there was a way poly people recognize each other. Kamala used that as a segue to debunk the stereotyping of poly people as eccentric hippie sorts of people. I'm very tired of that old assumption. Even if it's historically correct, it's no longer the case. Kamala stepped up and adeptly fielded that question. Happily, all of the people in open marriages who appeared on this program looked very good and were people mainstreamers can relate to, which is extremely important in presenting polyamory in a way that people can understand.

Happily, the expert on today's program was Jenny Block, author of Open: Life, Sex and Love in an Open Marriage. In only a couple of minutes Jenny very effectively backed up what Kamala and Michael and company made clear, that these relationships are about much more than sex and that they are deeply loving and familial. As experts go, Jenny was a huge improvement over these shows looking to so-called experts like Diana Kirschner.

Also in the audience was Polyamorous-NYC's president Birgitte Philippides. Birgitte spoke compellingly about the importance of not worrying about what others think and instead living a life authentic to who we are - I think that will resonate with a lot of viewers.

But, Tyra and producers clearly elected to focus on the guests on the couch whose relationships were the focus of the show, which was OK, because none of them were disastrous, and they mostly spoke to their individual situations very well.

An audience member asked in a very hostile tone where Kamala and Michael's 18 month old baby is during all their “carrying on” or some such reference. Kamala explained that her and Michael’s partners have "aunty and uncle" relationships with their baby. Framing the answer this way effectively neutralized the implied accusation that children are exposed to inappropriate activities when their parents have an open marriage.

Another audience member said she found the whole idea of open marriage disgusting due to risk of STIs - these are usually people who have zero tolerance for these risks and likely come from a very sex-negative, sex-is-dirty, perspective.

I didn’t like the way they blindsided Melissa, the best friend of Monique who was present with her husband, Keith, by bring Melissa out and asking her on camera with no advance warning whether she'd be interested in being intimate with Monique and Keith. Before bringing Melissa out, Monique and Keith both spoke very well about Monique's desire to have some of the same kinds of sexual experiences as Keith has had before they got together. Melissa's reaction was total shock. When Tyra pushed her for an answer, to her credit she said she wanted to think about it and wasn't ruling it out but that the three of them needed to talk together later before she would give them an answer. That was exactly the right decision on her part, and the fact that she didn't go all Jerry Springer on them and say "hell no" lent even more credibility to the whole open marriage concept. It also demonstrated the strength of her friendship with Melissa and Keith.

One audience member was very critical of Monique and asked her how she could jeopardize her long-time friendship with Melissa this way. Melissa’s response was to re-emphasize that they are already very close and love each other as dear friends and that she was only asking the question, not trying to coerce Melissa into saying yes. Her response sounded entirely sensible and is another example of how reason was able to debunk misconception.

Even Kelly, a guest with her husband (whose name I didn't get) who was the example of someone who had but no longer wants an open relationship was fair-minded and said when asked what she saw when she looked at Kamala and Michael and their other three partners that she saw a complicated situation that nevertheless seemed to be a happy one for those involved.

Near the end of the program Tara took off in a rather weird direction, i.e. trying to link the guests' parents' divorces to their choosing to be non-monogamous. I don't think I've ever heard anyone try to draw that parallel before. Only one of the guests on the couch said his parents are still married. The rest denied that there is any connection, and they had Katie-Couric-interviewing-Sarah-Palin looks on their faces, i.e. "what the heck is she talking about?"

The bottom line here 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.

Since the program aired there have been quite a few very negative comments posted by viewers on the show's website, many posted even before they actually saw the show (if they actually ever did.) It's pretty clear that such comments are going to be routine when TV focuses on polyamory. Our goal should be to look forward to the day when that doesn't happen, because it will prove that we'll have been so successful at raising consciousness that no one thinks twice about it. That's a pretty tall order, though, considering the culture war over marriage, specifically same-sex marriage, but progress is being made there, and our time will come as well.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The following is from the fabulous folks with Polyamorous NYC who are about to hold the biggest polyamory pride weekend-long celebration ever held next weekend. If you're in the northeast, travel by Amtrak may be both convenient and affordable. Fuel prices don't seem to have impacted Amtrak like they have the airline industry and prices at the pump.

Birgitte writes:

Our POLY PRIDE WEEKEND is only one week away and things are really heating up, folks. We have had an explosion of media requests recently and hope that all of this added attention will help create awareness about polyamory. We are expecting the largest crowds by far this year and hope that you can join us!

Whether you are poly-friendly, poly curious or polyamorous, POLY PRIDE WEEKEND will be a place to meet like-minded people as well as hear top poly and relationship experts and some great talent. Mark your calendars now, for a weekend of events not to be missed!

If you wish to purchase heavily-discounted advanced tickets and haven’t already done so, please do. Our ticketed events have an attendance ceiling and we won’t be able to accommodate you if we are sold out.

See event descriptions below. Save between one-third and one-half off the admission price and purchase online here.

We can also use some more great volunteers for our events. Volunteering is one of the best ways to actively network with other polyamorous people and get involved with an organization that is growing by leaps and bounds! Volunteering can be a powerful and life-changing experience. If you are interested in helping us with our events, please email Lyndell Moore, our POLY PRIDE Producer.

Here is a breakdown of our POLY PRIDE WEEKEND EVENTS:

Friday, October 3rd, 2008 from 7:30-10p.m.

The Super Massive Cuddle Party is on Friday night, October 3rd from 7:30-10p.m. (doors close at 8p.m. and late-comers will not be admitted) at the LGBT Center at 208 West 13th Street(between 7th and 8th Avenues) in room 101. We are expecting to break our record from last year of hosting the largest-ever official Cuddle Party in the world! Yes, folks...it will be a party with everyone in their pajamas but, a whole lot more. Besides being a great event to network and meet like-minded adults, it is also a powerful communication and boundaries workshop. Yes, I have actually seen these parties be transformational experiences for people as well as an amazing space to make new connections, etc. If you haven't ever experienced an official Cuddle Party, than this is the one to go to....if you are a Cuddle Party regular, than this is the motherload of all Cuddle Parties. For more info about what a Cuddle Party is, log onto: www.CuddleParty.com.

Saturday, October 4th from 12-6p.m

The (FREE) POLY PRIDE DAY Rally and Picnic in Central Park is on Saturday, October 4th from 12-6p.m. on the Great Hill(entrance on 106th Street and Central Park West). We are expecting to have the lawn filled with poly curious, poly-friendly and polyamorous people all coming together to experience an historic day of dynamic poly speakers and talent from across the country. The Rally will start promptly at noon. This one-of-a-kind-event is only happening in New York, folks and POLYAMOROUS NYC has organized a speaker and talent line-up that the polyamory movement has never before seen together in one place. If you have already been to a POLY PRIDE event in past years, get ready for something extraordinary and if you haven't ever been to our POLY PRIDE DAY and want to see the future of the exploding Alternative Relationships and Polyamory Movement, than this is your event. For more info about all of our speakers and entertainment acts, log on to our website at: www.poly-nyc.com.

Saturday, October 4th 9p.m. until 1:00 a.m.

The POLY PRIDE DAY AFTER-PARTY on Saturday, October 4th will be from 9p.m. until 1:00 a.m. will be at The River Room at River Place, 650 West 42nd Street. It's an exciting loft-style venue overlooking the Hudson River with a romantic indoor/outdoor space, a multitude of saucy cabaret and entertainment acts and a slammin' DJ to dance to.....Possibly the largest poly-friendly, poly-curious, polyamorous party of it's kind in New York City. If you ever wondered where all those great poly people in the New York area and beyond are, discover them at this event. We are expecting close to 300 attendees and yes, there will be no better place in town to meet like-minded poly people than this event.

Sunday, October 5th will be from 12:30-2:30p.m

The (FREE) Read and Sign Event on Sunday, October 5th will be from 12:30-2:30p.m. at the famous and infamous, Bluestockings Bookstore on 172 Allen Street(between Stanton and Rivington).

Folks, this will be the biggest POLY Author Read and Sign event ever! and no where else will you get this many important poly authors from across the country(including Puerto Rico) all assembled in the same place reading from their books. POLYAMOROUS NYC is seriously proud to have all of these important authors all in one place for the first time ever! We would love you to join us for this dynamic event. Admission is free! (if you want to make a contribution to the hat, though, it would be greatly appreciated).

Meet and hear from authors of some of the most prominent books about polyamory out today. Sensual recollections, practical insights, and recounting of history are just three of the aspects of polyamory to be explored through readings and honest discussion: Authors Serena Anderlini, Peter Benson, Kelli Dunham, Barbara Foster, Jaime Grant, Cunning Minx, Leanne Wolfe, Jenny Block and Tristan Taormino read from their fiction and nonfiction writings. Highlights include selections from Taormino's new book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating & Sustaining Open Relationships and anticdotes from Block's nationally recognized book Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage.

I hope that you all can join us!

Passionately Yours,
Birgitte Philippides
Polyamorous NYC