Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



September 15, 2014

"When your boyfriend loses his lover"

Salon

Passionate poly writer Louisa Leontiades got a piece published in Salon yesterday. It's her first appearance there.


When your boyfriend loses his lover

We've been in an open relationship for years now. But some things aren't taught in the polyamory manuals.

I sit with him. His head is bowed, and he looks tired and sad. If tears could leak out of his eyes, they would. But my boyfriend has been trained not to cry, although I’m not privy to what he does when he’s alone, listening to his favorite love songs. It’s heartbreaking when someone who is so optimistic, so full of boundless positivity and who brings such joy to lives through his music is in a pit of numbed nothingness. But it’s not my heartbreak I’m concerned with, it’s his.

In an open relationship, you have experiences that are a rarity in other people’s lives. You welcome jealousy as a teacher. You challenge what a relationship really means.... But there are some situations the polyamorous literature rarely covers. What to do when your boyfriend is grieving the loss of his lover?

Of course, I’m projecting about his heartbreak, as I always do. He’s a “coper,” one of the reasons I love him. When we met, I told him about my baggage, and he said, “Don’t worry, darling, I can handle heavy.”...

...He speaks of her. Of memories. Of what ifs. Of his confusion. I try my best not to think guiltily about my own lover, my other significant other, sleeping in the bedroom. This heartbreak is his alone.

But I miss her, too. We are still friends, supposedly. And yet everything has changed. She’s not coming over every other day. Her laughter doesn’t sound in the kitchen anymore....


Read on (Sept. 14, 2014).

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September 13, 2014

"A Counselor's First Experience Working with a Poly Family"



A therapist writes about a professional-growth experience, at the website of the (mostly kink-oriented) National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Excerpts:


Guest blog: A Counselor's First Experience Working with a Poly Family

By Eric Jett, NCC, LPC

...During the first intake, we had gone over the typical counseling questions and discussed the importance of family counseling that we [would] start after a couple of individual sessions between me and their son. Mom and Dad were extremely cordial about the process, extremely concerned about their son, and you could see their investment in helping him grow and survive this situation; yet something was still off. There was something mom and dad were holding back....

...The parents asked me was what I was required to report to the state about child abuse.... My direct approach was to ask “Do you believe your son has been physical, sexually, or emotionally abused in some way?” The mom and dad instantly went to denying any occurrence of abuse, and I admittedly told them I was a little confused about their concern on the child abuse reporting laws for our state.

Dads’ response was, “We are polyamorous.”... For the remainder of the hour, we talked about their amazing family which included six adults, who their son and other 3 children got to refer to as parents. Mom and dad’s greatest fear was that as a professional, this would be reportable....

[In] our next family session all 6 adults attended, and it became very apparent to me as a counselor the opportunities we had to work really as an amazing support structure for this teen and help him through this difficult time of his life.

This [was] my beginning experience working with poly families, which I have continued over the past several years.... However as a counselor it was an important learning experience to remind me of the fear and concern which can often be with individuals because of societal expectations.... This family had lived as a family unit, with their ups and downs like every relationship, for over 20 years before stepping into my office.

...I worked with the family for over a year and during that course of time they educated me on not only their family but resources, books, articles, and even polyamorous meetups in the area with other families and individuals interested in relationships.

...I have been pleased and amazed to be able to present this particular client case to colleagues [who are] in the beginning struggle with the idea of working with a poly family, and often I see skewed views of what this means for the family and children. However, after we talk about and demonstrate the work we were able to do in family therapy and how the family having multiple parents actually strengthened my work with the teen, colleagues often leave with a changed view....


See his whole article (Aug. 30, 2014).

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● Remember, if you need to educate a therapist about poly (on their time, not yours), you can point them to the NCSF's 36-page booklet What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory.

● Here's a one-page version at GoodTherapy.org (last updated May 2014).

● If you're looking for a poly-aware therapist or coach, one place you can start is at Tristan Taormino's Open List, organized by state and internationally, on the website of her book Opening Up. It also links to other lists. If you're a professional who should be on this list, it tells at the bottom how to get on.

● Check the NCSF's famous Kink-Aware Professionals (KAP) directory, which also includes doctors, lawyers, and others.

● And the long-running Poly Friendly Professionals directory at polychromatic.com is finally back up again (after being down due to a corrupted data file).

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On the subject of therapists, last February the Washington Blade (“the newspaper of record for the LGBT community”) interviewed Tamara Pincus, a DC bi and poly awareness activist and community organizer:


Queery: Tamara Pincus


By Joey DiGuglielmo

Tamara Pincus has been out as bi since she was a teen. It took her many more years, though, to embrace her polyamorous side.

She and husband Eric have been married 11 years but she’s also had relationships with women. She also has a partner named James she’s been with two years. Eric has another partner as well.

Pincus, 37, was born in Seattle but grew up in Massachusetts and New York. She’s in private practice as a psychotherapist and sex therapist (tamarapincus.com) and also leads a monthly poly discussion group at the D.C. Center. It usually meets on the third Thursday of each month....

She says the LGBT movement should be open to less “heteronormativity.”

“I understand why the gay marriage movement has tried to make it look like we’re all just like you with two very normal looking white men with this happy little family, but we also need to be accepting of people who are different too,” she says. “You silence a lot of voices when you say, ‘We’re all just like you.’”

Pincus has two sons, ages 5 and 7 and lives in Alexandria. She enjoys board games and spending time with her family in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out as bi at 16 and as poly three years ago. The hardest people to tell were definitely parents of my kids’ friends, one of whom ran into my husband when he was on a date with someone else. It hasn’t really been hard to tell people I’m bi....


And from there it turns unserious. Read the whole article (Feb. 26, 2014).

Here's an earlier, less frivolous interview with Pincus at HuffPost Women:


The Polyamorist On The Couch: Q&A With Tamara Pincus On What Therapists Should Know About Big Love

...Currently, there is not a lot out there for social workers about polyamory. A lot of them have never heard of it or think that it only happens when a couple is not doing well but not ready to break up. They don't understand the concept of poly identity and why people choose polyamory aside from a desire to have sex with more than one person.

This can lead to marginalization. A lot of poly clients in therapy don't come out to their therapists which means they don't work on a lot of the issues that come up. Also often when they do come out they feel judged by their therapists or misunderstood.

Often even the most well-meaning therapists will not understand polyamory so clients will end up spending their time educating their therapists which is not a service they should necessarily have to pay for....


The whole interview (Dec. 12, 2013).

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September 8, 2014

"Consensual non-monogamy a way of life for Edmonton polyamorists"

Edmonton Journal (Canada)

This nice little profile, in a leading newspaper of Canada's conservative prairie provinces, describes the local poly community. The story is currently the most-read item on the paper's website. The public comments so far are mostly polite and worth reading, and our representatives are doing a fine job.


Consensual non-monogamy a way of life for Edmonton polyamorists

Alyson Sildra, of Polyamory Edmonton
Alyson Sildra, founder of Polyamory Edmonton. (Photo: John Lucas, Edmonton Journal)

By Fiona Buchanan

An unusual Edmonton group is seeking to raise awareness about their unique formula for blissful romance. Polyamory Edmonton is a group of people that practise consensual, non-monogamous relationships. They are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization and want to educate Edmontonians about their unconventional take on romantic partnerships.

Founder Alyson Sidra, who is married and dating outside that relationship, gives a crash course on polyamory and explains why it can be a recipe for relationship success.

What is polyamory?

If someone identifies as polyamorous, they are open to having more than one romantic partner with the openness, consent and honesty of everyone involved. There wouldn’t be any cheating or anything secretive. Everyone knows who the other is dating or involved with.

...Polyamorous relationships must be tough to manage with so many people involved. Is it tricky?

It can be. We jokingly say that poly people can be very adept at scheduling. Other than that, most poly relationships have very similar issues to monogamous ones, just with more than one person.

Some people might say that romantic love doesn’t work when it is not exclusively between two people. How do you view it?

In my marriage, it felt comfortable for us to open up to love and to date other people without it feeling at all threatening or making our own relationship insecure. In fact, in a lot of ways, it tended to make it stronger. There’s a lot of communication involved.

You are not born with a certain amount of it and it definitely doesn’t get depleted the more people you have in your life. People view romantic love as something very different, but the love that you have for family and friends and children, it multiplies. For polyamorous people, so does romantic love. I think most poly people would agree that their capacity for love is just part of who they are....


Read on (Sept. 7, 2014), and leave a comment.

The story was reprinted the next day in Canada's National Post, under the headline Edmonton polyamory group seeking non-profit status, wants to extol the benefits of multiple romantic partners.

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September 6, 2014

Dedeker Winston, the poly character on Fox's "Utopia" reality series


The initial cast of Fox's Utopia

Heads up; the thing we feared would happen is gonna happen, starting tomorrow (Sunday Sept. 7) at 8 p.m. Eastern. But it could be interesting, because it turns out we have a would-be heroine in the fight. Can she outsmart the fight being rigged?

Earlier this summer, casting directors for a new Fox reality show came poking around the polywebs looking for someone to fill a precisely defined role. Wrote one:


I'm casting a documentary series on a major TV network that will air in the fall featuring 15 Americans from all different walks of life coming together to form a new society. They are still looking for the last cast member and this is who they would like:

1. A single woman in her 20s who is polyamorous.

2. They would like a woman who can break down the negative stereotypes about women and polyamory (for example: "a man who sleep with many is a stud, a woman is considered a slut").

3. There is compensation for being on the show.

4. This is a major network show with a lot of credibility and they are looking for the right person to fit this description, not an actress.


Another casting agent working the same assignment wrote,


Fox is specifically interested in a woman who strongly believes in plural marriage or celestial marriage and wants a platform to help dispel the misconceptions and educate our viewers on it.


In the Polyamory Leadership Network discussion that sprung up, the consensus was that Fox was designing Utopia to turn into Lord of the Flies — the purpose of a reality show is drama, not boring harmony — and that the rules of the setup would pit the characters against each other like rats in a shaken cage. Said Sarah Taub of the Network for a New Culture (with long experience building actual intentional community), "It’s hard enough for people with a shared vision and good community skills (communication, boundaries, emotional management skills, curiosity about others, functional group decision-making processes, etc.) to create a successful intentional community. With 15 random people, chosen by the producers for maximum drama … this show should be called “Hell” or “No Exit”, not “Utopia.” "

Dedeker Winston of Fox's UtopiaI floated the idea, only half jokingly, that someone with the right specs could apply for the slot, get accepted, stall signing as long as possible, then drop out just before camera time so the hot-polyamorist role would go unfilled.

Didn't happen. Instead they found Dedeker Winston, at right: a 26-year-old belly dancer and nude model from LA with the looks, body, and camera presence to drive prime-time ratings. But we may have lucked out — she seems to be smart, confident, articulate, and she really gets poly. Her smarts show pretty well in this interview with Cosmopolitan that just appeared (with that photo), but we see her more clearly on her own Multiamory podcast that she and two partners have begun producing, below:

Dedeker Winston and partners in the Multiamory podcast

Episode 1 of their podcast, the only one up so far, is damn good: Five Myths about Polyamory. It's 41 minutes long. Their summary of it:


Dedeker Winston and Multiamory.com website partners
In our very first episode of the Multiamory podcast we decided to compile a list of the five biggest and most common myths that we come across when talking to people about polyamory. In addition to busting these myths we discuss some personal stories about being poly and drop some hints about upcoming episodes.

The 5 myths:

1. Polyamory is just about sex.

2. If you found "the one" you wouldn't need to be polyamorous.

3. Polyamory is a way of avoiding all the hard work of a committed relationship.

4. Polyamory is only for people who don't get jealous.

5. One gender or group has an easier time being polyamorous. (Men, women, singles, couples, etc)

Thanks so much for checking us out. We hope you enjoy it!

Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Emily Matlack, and Jase Lindgren


On their Multiamory site, she says that she is

"a strong advocate for polyamory and progressive thinking. She believes everyone should be able to live proudly and practically in alternative lifestyles, and is a public example and role-model for this way of living. You can see her on Fox's new show Utopia, where she is hoping to spread awareness of polyamory."

Here she tells more about her fit to the role in the show, and about her poly life and poly-awareness goals:



Excerpt:

When I found out what they were looking for — it described me 100% to a T. They wanted someone who was polyamorous, someone who wanted to create a new society, who wanted to be a voice for kind of the next sexual revolution and the next emotional liberation, and that's completely my m.o. I couldn't not contact them, basically, when I saw that.

Here is a clip from a Utopia camera of her lounging in a hammock on the compound with two other cast members and explaining what poly means to her:



Her hashtag is #PolyandProud.

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Fox is telling the public that Utopia is completely unscripted, that the 130 hidden and unhidden cameras merely observe, and that no production crew is onsite at any time.

Well, maybe not really. The show is a copy of the successful Dutch Utopia series that's being run by the same rules in the Netherlands, and I found something interesting. A person who claims to have been in on the Dutch Utopia told how the directors did the cage-rattling:


In the Dutch version, there is a room with a microphone where they can push a button and talk to the people 'behind the scenes', who are not on the terrain themselves. The viewers however don't get to see/hear these conversations. Originally this was [described as being] intended for when the participants really needed help (they can ask for a consult with a psychologist for example). But as the show progressed, it became clear that there was much more 'steering' going on in some situations than they wanted people to believe.

People are often called to this room, for all kinds of reasons (for example when [someone is] trying to cut down a tree that isn't allowed, or discussing things they don't want the viewers to know). Other times people come out of the room and start certain conversations or take certain actions (in order to continue some 'storyline' for example).

Hence it sometimes is unclear whether or not certain actions or ideas or what not are coming from the participants themselves or not. And having a room in which conversations take place that are not recorded/shown does not help that situation.


I hope Dedeker understood what she was walking into, and the rules she will have to work under (including, no doubt, a terrifying nondisclosure contract). When she is called into The Room, I hope she uses all her wits with the cage-shakers and can be strong with her "No." Even if it means getting vanished from the show and perhaps losing her accumulated pay. I admire her drive to represent us well, but it'll take all the smarts and character she can muster.

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Here's the show's official site, including its profile of Dedeker with a video clip. Definitely prime time.

The show is getting heaps of advance publicity this weekend. For instance at Entertainment Weekly: Fox's 'Utopia' cast already naked, weird -- and drawing 1 million views (online views that is).

TV Guide: 6 Reasons Fox's Utopia Could Be Amazing (Or a Total Disaster).

From an article at Cinema Blend:


Fox's New Reality Show Utopia Already Seems Like A Disaster

Fox’s latest reality series, Utopia, hasn’t even premiered yet, but it’s already proven to have a slew of problems. On Tuesday, a 25-year-old contestant going by the name Hex had to be taken to the hospital due to a severe case of dehydration.... The news comes just days after fellow contestant Andrea Cox was kicked off the show due to sneaking in a smartphone and researching the other contestants....

Honestly, Fox has invested a lot in Utopia. Stars have been signed on to the show for 52 weeks of hard living in the wilderness, and casting is ongoing just in case there are cell phone or health issues (also, cast members can totally be kicked off the series). It’s only Day 5 of the drama and it’s looking like Fox might have more problems to navigate than the network may have expected. If you are interested in seeing Utopia turn into a disaster, you can tune in when the show premieres....


A bit of the show's official transcript from Day 8:


8:21 p.m. - Red confronts Amanda because The Utopia State of Freedom (aka Red and Dave) felt cheated that she only returned four bananas to them after they gave her six. She explains that her four large bananas equals the six tiny bananas they had originally given to her. Things escalate. Because of course they do.

8:22 p.m. - Amanda tells Dave [a black ex-con] he has an attitude. As you could imagine, this does not sit well. Dave rants about not caring about “any of y’all n******” in Utopia. Amanda walks away and moves to the main house, where she sighs to Mike, “This is not prison.” Meanwhile, Dave hisses that Amanda’s attitude will get her man hurt one day.


Get out the popcorn for tomorrow night. (It's a 2-hour opener. After that the show continues on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

Dedeker kisses Emily, Jase, and her other boyfriend goodbye as she ships out for a year on the Utopia compound.

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

Update Sunday night: Yup, the show was a dramafest. In the first three days in Utopia, we mostly see hotheads and ditzheads, a fight and a drunken near-assault on women, a well-meaning Pentecostal pastor out to convert and baptize everyone, heaps of shouting and, let's say, low emotional intelligence.... and complete cluelessness about managing their situation.

Dedeker had no part in any of the abundant craziness. So, she got practically no camera time in the two hours of the opening show. Except we do see that she is one of the skinny-dipping women.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the show had 4.6 million viewers, which it calls a "decent" kickoff. [later revised to 5.5 million]. Update: The show lost nearly half its audience from Episode 1 to 2, report various TV sites; one notes that the show will be canceled if ratings fall short of requirements. "Watching an adult throw a violent temper-tantrum and smash cans of food because he doesn’t get his way is a waste of the format. Everything about the show is top-notch, from the concept to the execution; only the casting has failed.... The decision to cast people for conflict instead of a genuine interest in forming a new society did turn some viewers off."

Writes Willa Paskin on Slate: "Through the first two episodes, five of the eight men assembled have violent physical outbursts. The female cast members avoid the trap of being portrayed as catty and vicious; as a result, they are granted no personalities at all, just a penchant for swimming naked."

Ratings declined further for Episode 3.

A New York Observer blogger's recap of Episode 1. Of Episode 2. Episode 3.

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August 31, 2014

All 40 nonfiction books on modern polyamory


The covers of 16 polyamory books
Sixteen of 'em.

With More Than Two due to start shipping from Amazon day after tomorrow, I figured this is a good time to take stock of the entire modern poly literature.

Here is an up-to-date descriptive list of every nonfiction book on polyamory published since the movement took shape in the mid-1980s (a few years before the word was coined in 1990 and 1992).
The criteria for inclusion are:

"Nonfiction books entirely or substantially about polyamory as it's understood by today's movement, published since 1984, in English, in a printed edition."

Too many to choose from? I've highlighted my top general-interest recommendations with green bullets.

The titles link to my own reviews and roundups for ten of them, otherwise directly to Amazon or the publisher. The descriptions are mine except as quoted.

This is a much-updated repost of the booklist I created two years ago. I plan to keep this list up to date forever (with the same URL).

Interesting statistic: Of all the authors and co-authors, 32 are women, 10 are men, and 1 is genderqueer. That's a more than 3-to-1 ratio of women to men.

In reverse date order:


More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert (Thorntree Press, Sept. 2, 2014). For more than 15 years Franklin Veaux has run one of the world's most read and linked-to poly advice websites (now named More Than Two). But the material in the book is new. This is the first practical guide aimed directly at what Franklin calls the "second wave" of the poly movement: the growing influx of people since about 2010 who have been learning of poly not through alternative cultures but through more mainstream channels, and who are therefore blundering into every stereotypical mistake. (He gets mail. Lots of mail.)

More Than Two is a firmly grounded presentation of the poly-community wisdom that has evolved, through bitter trial and error, about what works and doesn't. And especially, why. Short version: Self-knowledge, communication, and high ethics (defined largely as respect for other people's agency) are not nice extras, they are nearly mandatory for walking the multidimensional tightropes of poly webs without crashing. At 496 pages, the book delves deeply into many topics and strategies based on the authors' experiences and mistakes (which they tell in lots of interspersed stories). These experiences, and those of many other people, led them to derive their foundational philosophy for good relationships of any kind. See the book's website. Disclosure: I'm biased; I edited the book.

Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up), by Cunning Minx (Do The Work, July 2014). Cunning Minx is the creator and hard-working host of the popular Polyamory Weekly podcast, which she began in 2005; it's about to hit its 400th episode. She presents workshops and seminars on ethical non-monogamy at poly conferences and other sex-positive venues, and has counseled thousands of people on the air and in person. One of her most popular classes is "Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up)," about lessons learned in her first years of it. She expanded the notes of the talk into an e-book, then self-published it as this 84-page paperback.

It's snappily written, covers a lot of poly wisdom fast and efficiently, and flows as smoothly as her podcast sounds. Topics covered include “poly as a custom job,” “write your user manual” (with a template for doing so), “Minx's hot communication tips”, “emotional ownership”, “make guidelines not rules”, “NRE is fun”, and “you don't have to do it alone.” Here's a review by poly author Louisa Leontiades. The printed edition's internal design bears the common stigmata of self-published books (smallish type, too-wide margins, etc.).

Love Alternatively Expressed: The Scoop on Practicing Polyamory in Canada, by Zoe Hawksworth Duff (Filidh Publishing, March 2014). This is the self-published "story of a woman who, along with her partners, has been a Canadian public face for the cause of legal recognition for the loving poly families who raise healthy children in homes where many adults share one love. Her affidavit along with members of four other Canadian families was presented to the BC Supreme Court in the 2010 reference case on Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the Polygamy law). She shares her experiences and wisdom in an entertaining and informative read" (publisher's description). Contains much on the 2010–11 legal saga establishing that informal polyamory (unlike polygamy) is legal in Canada. The design has the common problems of self-published books (small type, too-wide margins, etc.).

The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, by Elisabeth Sheff (Rowman & Littlefield, Nov. 2013). In this long-awaited book, sociologist Elisabeth Sheff presents her conclusions and insights from 15 years of studying poly people and households, and especially their children. While the subjects of her book sometimes show their flaws and awkwardnesses in the clarity of word-for-word-transcripts, overall she finds the adults of her study to be highly capable and mature and their children to be at least as thriving and robust as the average, probably more so. Here's more (including how to get 20% off the high list price).

The Jealousy Handbook: Exercises and insights for managing open relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, Sept. 2013). The poly movement has long outgrown its early utopian idea that good polys don't get jealous. Today the community universally teaches that jealousy is normal, and what matters is how everyone understands and handles it. The conventional wisdom is that breakthroughs can come from examining and analyzing it: sometimes by rooting up your own fears and insecurities to analyze under bright light — and sometimes as a valuable early-warning signal that some real problem exists external to you, sensed by the gut before your conscious mind sees it.

Kathy Labriola has professionally counseled hundreds of poly individuals and groups in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. Drawing on this long practice, she has compiled a big (8½ by 11 inch) open-relationship jealousy workbook. It presents 42 practical exercises. They are embedded in chapters on figuring out whether an open relationship is right for you, understanding your jealousy and its roots, determining its triggers, determining whether it may be rational for the situation at hand, and intervention strategies both for managing jealousy and for addressing common external problems. The book includes chapters on best-practice communication skills for polyfolks, and jealousy tips and techniques from other professionals with expertise in open relationships.

Not Your Mother's Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships, by Samantha Fraser (Creative Junction, May 2013). Samantha Fraser is an outspoken poly activist in Toronto, organizer of Toronto's annual Playground conference, and keynote speaker at Canada's first PolyCon. She and her husband proudly represent the swinger/poly interface. This book presents her many insights on the practicalities of making open relationships work, drawn from her abundant personal experience. If you don't like small print, get the Kindle or ebook edition.

Polyamory and Pregnancy, by Jessica Burde (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 2013). Burde is the mother of three children born into polyamorous relationships, has lived in polyfamilies for much of the last 10 years, and has seen a great deal of the good and the bad. She discusses many  considerations you may not have thought of, starting before conception and continuing through birth. Burde runs the thoughtful Polyamory on Purpose blog of practical information and advice. The book is the first in a series of Polyamory on Purpose Guides that she plans to publish. Future titles, she says, include The Poly Home, Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous, and Raising Children in Polyamory.

The Husband Swap, by Louisa Leontiades (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 2012). Louisa Leontiades — born in Cyprus, raised in England, and living in Sweden — is a passionate, prolific, articulate new writer on the poly internets. This is her novelistic memoir of the tumultous, intimate, but ultimately failed quad that launched her and her husband on their current poly trajectory. A reviewer comments, "For my solo poly lifestyle, I find the story aching with couple- and poly-normativity, but really, this can be forgiven since this is a memoir and it's highly unlikely that anyone entering into polyamory for the first time wouldn't try it this way."

Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships, by Meg Barker (Routledge, September 2012). This is an insightful self-help guide to digging out unexamined social assumptions that govern your relationship life, looking at them directly, and deciding which to keep and which to remake. Barker has long been a poly activist as well as an academic and relationship therapist. The mono-or-poly choice is only one of seven relationship topics that she presents for readers to examine, but all of them are important for poly living. Review by Louisa Leontiades.

The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on Guide to Open Sexual Relationships, by Françoise Simpère (Skyhorse Publishing, February 2011). Simpère is a widely published and quoted open-relationship advocate in France. This is a translation of her Aimer Plusieurs Hommes (2003). Writes Franklin Veaux: "Describes the author's process of coming to her own polyamorous arrangement, and talks about the rules and ideas that keep her relationships healthy and happy. It's written from a very specific perspective (long-term couples who want lovers on the side), and as such describes only one particular kind of polyamory."

Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic by Raven Kaldera (Alfred Press, December 2010). From the publisher's description: "Power Circuits is an alliance between two alternative lifestyles: polyamory... and power dynamics: relationships that choose to be consciously and deliberately unequal in power, such as dominant/submissive or master/slave.... Navigates the waters of effective polyamory and power exchanges, with many essays from the brave practitioners who swim there."

Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, October 2010). Labriola is a nurse and counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area who has professionally advised hundreds of poly families and groups and observed the poly scene for more than 20 years. She offers distilled practical advice from this long experience.

What Does Polyamory Look Like? Polydiverse Patterns of Loving and Living in Modern Polyamorous Relationships, by Mim Chapman (iUniverse, August 2010). When people say "I'm poly," they may mean very different things. This is a lighthearted but serious guide to navigating among five major styles of polyamory widely practiced in the community today.

Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships, by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik (Findhorn Press, August 2010). A relationship coach in the Netherlands who specializes in multipartner counseling describes the commonest recurring patterns and problems among her clients, and means to their resolution. She devotes 12 chapters to 12 composite case histories, with very different people and situations.

Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah Anapol (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2010). One of the founding mothers of the modern polyamory movement in the 1980s and 1990s takes a careful, sociologist's look at the state of the movement she helped to create.

Border Families, Border Sexualities in Schools, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2010). A health and social-development professor in Australia "explores the experiences of bisexual students, mixed sexual orientation families, and polyamorous families in schools."

Understanding Non-Monogamies, edited by Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge (Routledge, 2010; in paperback 2013). An academic collection of 25 papers and essays on styles of open relationships in various cultural contexts, especially in different parts of today's poly culture.

Beyond Monogamy: Lessons from Long-Term Male Couples In Non-Monogamous Relationships, by Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears (free ebook February 2010; issued in paperback March 2012). This is a comprehensive report on the authors' famous Couples Study of gay couples and their approaches to nonmonogamy. A small number were living in triads or poly families, and a larger number had considered such arrangements. The authors' description: "Although non-monogamy is prevalent in the gay community, information about how couples navigate this terrain is surprisingly lacking. As a long-term couple (36 years) we had experienced ups and downs and an on-going evolution in our approach to living in a non-monogamous relationship. We were curious about the experience of others and assumed many long-term couples might offer valuable perspectives and hard-earned lessons. The study summarizes data from the 86 couples we interviewed and provides many verbatim quotes illustrating themes, issues and things to consider."

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century, by Curtis R. Bergstrand and Jennifer Blevins Sinski (Praeger, November 2009). The first 40% of this book is a study of the swinger subculture and the people in it. The second 60% is a critique of monogamous ideology in Western society, and this, Bergstrand has told poly conferences, he considers to be the most important part of the book.

Many Hearts, Many Loves, Many Possibilities: The Polyamory Relationship Workbook, by Christina Parker (Alfred Press, 2009). From the publisher's description: "This book provides a tool for everyone seeking to look beyond their fears, fantasies, and stereotypes and step into the reality of polyamory relationships.... A combination of information, insight, and detailed questionnaire, it is designed to help people get a clear understanding of who they are, what they want, and what they need in order to maintain a fulfilling relationship of any kind."

Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet, by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (North Atlantic Books, September 2009). This ethereal, philosophical polemic for multiple love as an opening to saving the world spends much of its time diverted into embarrassing New Age HIV denialism.

The Ethical Slut, Second Edition; A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy (Ten Speed Press, March 2009). Expanded by 30% and now aiming for a wider audience, this is a new edition of the 1997 word-of-mouth classic published by Greenery Press (for which Hardy used the pseudonym "Catherine A. Liszt"). It is still the most popular book on the networked or "free agent" model of poly — though it now includes an added chapter on opening an existing couple relationship.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino (Cleis Press, May 2008). If The Ethical Slut is the bible of free-agent "single" poly, Opening Up has become the top choice for couples looking to open an existing committed relationship — of whatever sort. Tristan Taormino, a brassy star among America's sexerati, did exhaustive work interviewing more than 100 people and couples in a dizzying variety of open and poly arrangements successful and not. Learn from them.

Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, by Jenny Block (Seal Press, May 2008). With a husband, daughter, and long-term girlfriend, Dallas writer Jenny Block fearlessly puts herself out as an exemplar of successful open marriage and bold Texas feminism.

The Polyamory Handbook: A User's Guide, by Peter J. Benson (Author House, March 2008). A longtime poly-community stalwart and activist compiles a big, workmanlike guide to every Poly 101 and 201 issue you can think of.

Open Fidelity: An A-Z Guide, by Anna Sharman (Purple Sofa Publications, September 2006). A small book (36 pages) from England. From the cover description: "A brief introduction to most of the important issues around monogamy and non-monogamy, honesty and fidelity. It covers all the plus points of honest open relationships and many of the potential problems, from jealousy and time management to telling your kids – in a simple alphabetical format, with cross-references for easy navigation and quotes from those with lived experience of Open Fidelity." (Now available free online.)

Polyamory Many Loves: The Poly-Tantric Lovestyle: A Personal Account, by Janet Kira Lessin (Author House, 2006). The controversial creator of the New Agey "World Polyamory Association" publishes many of her internet pieces in book form.

Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts, by Raven Kaldera (Llewellyn Publications, 2005). Publisher's description: "Relating polyamory to astrology and the elements (air, fire, water, earth, and spirit), the author addresses all aspects of the polyamorous life, including family life, sexual ethics, emotional issues, proper etiquette, relationship boundaries, and the pros of cons of this lifestyle. Kaldera discusses polyamory as a path of spiritual transformation and shares spells, rituals, and ceremonies." Pete Benson comments, "There is also plenty of good wisdom here about polyamory in general, so if Paganism is not your spiritual path, do not be turned off."

Plural Loves: Designs For Bi And Poly Living, edited by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (The Haworth Press, January 2005). A collection of 18 substantial academic and general-audience essays that, according to the introduction, "point to the effervescence in current bisexuality and polyamory discourse and the benefits of having them resonate with each other."

Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful, by Anthony Ravenscroft (Fenris Brothers/ Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2004). This book is idea-rich, opinionated, idiosyncratic, and resolutely hard-headed — bordering on cynical — but it needed an editor; it's wordy and overwritten. Contains food for thought if you can work past its annoyances. (The bibliography, with commentary, includes books important to the development of poly thought earlier than this present list, from James Ramey back to Joan and Larry Constantine to Robert Rimmer to Wilhelm Reich to Judge Ben Lindsey to... Niccolo Machiavelli??)

The Sex and Love Handbook: Polyamory! Bisexuality! Swingers! Spirituality! (and even) Monogamy! A Practical Optimistic Relationship Guide, By Kris A. Heinlein and Rozz M. Heinlein, no relations to science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (Do Things Records and Publishing, 2004). I haven't seen this; others call it lightweight and carelessly edited. Publisher's description: "Explores the most sensual sexual organ: the human brain. Explore the emotions, philosophies, risks and rewards of reaching toward your next sexual level. Nothing is out of bounds except dishonesty and hypocrisy." Swinger oriented.

Poly Communication Survival Kit: The Essential Tools for Building and Enhancing Relationships, by Robert McGarey (Human Potential Center, 2004, 2001, 1999). "The goal of this book: to provide in brief and usable form all the basic tools you need in order to communicate well, even in difficult circumstances." McGarey helped to spread learnable methods for excellent communication that the poly culture now widely holds as ideals. Currently available in a new printing (2013) and as an e-book. Says poly coach Dawn Davidson, "It's still good solid information."

Spiritual Polyamory, by Mystic Life (iUniverse, 2003). A small collection of the author's essays and musings to "help you to open your mind and heart to a fresh approach to intimacy."

Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships, by Wendy-O Matik (Defiant Times Press, 2002). An important early poly book among punk, anarchist, and radical street cultures, especially in the Bay Area, where Matic remains active today inspiring and guiding people in alternative relationships. Presents thoughtful guidelines for do-it-yourself relationship structures. Says Franklin Veaux: "Explores the realities of day-in, day-out nonmonogamy, particularly as a conscious political and social act."

The New Intimacy: Open-Ended Marriage and Alternative Lifestyles, by Ronald Mazur (iUniverse, 2000). From the publisher's description: "Now is an opportune and urgent time to give voice to the intimacies of alternative lifestyles, including open marriage.... It is to non-traditionalists, to those ready for new life and love affirmations, that this book is offered with joy. The evolution of human consciousness prepares the way for the unfolding of our universal polyamorous potential. Let the pioneers be unafraid to move beyond the ancient limits of relationships to the new intimacy of responsible erotic freedom."

The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex, edited by Marcia Munson and Judith Stelboum (The Haworth Press, 1999). From the publisher's description: "If your own lesbian relationship lies outside the traditional monogamous couple model, you're definitely not alone. You'll find successful models of relationship styles from cover to cover.... Calls upon a broad scope of writers, professional women and academics.... Focuses on the social implications of this love phenomenon, bringing it into a more inclusive circle of discussion for lesbians, educators, and students of sociology and sexology."

Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide For All Women Whose Hearts are Open to Multiple Sexualoves, or, How to Keep Nonmonogamy Safe, Sane, Honest and Laughing, You Rogue!, by Celeste West (Booklegger Publishing, 1996). Comments Sex Geek blogger Andrea Zanin: "Upbeat, quirky, explicitly feminist, and sprawling in scope, this one’s a mishmash of advice columns, conceptual musings, practical advice and personal insights. A bit essentialist but full of yummy ideas nonetheless."

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits: Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships, by Deborah Anapol (IntiNet Resource Center, 1997; a revision and expansion of her original Love Without Limits: The Quest for Sustainable Intimate Relationships: Responsible Nonmonogamy, 1992). Deborah Anapol's book was the bible of the early modern poly movement and for some time was practically its only book. She takes a spiritual approach to love and sex that continues to resonate with some people and not others. Introduced seminal insights on jealousy and how to handle it.

Breaking the Barriers to Desire: Polyamory, Polyfidelity and Non-Monogamy – New Approaches To Multiple Relationships, edited by Kevin Lano and Claire Parry (Five Leaves Publications [Nottingham, UK], 1995). From the introduction: "This book will aim to show that 'responsible non-monogamy' can be both a positive choice at a personal level and a radicalising current in society, providing a true alternative to the dependence and exclusion of traditional monogamy and the lack of responsibility and honesty in covert non-monogamy." Writes a reviewer: "There are personal stories, some chunky theoretical pieces, a history of non-monogamy, an article about the life of a non-monogamous woman in the early 1800s, and an exploration of Christian theological justifications for monogamy and polygyny... all in 137 pages."

Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer, 3rd edition, by Ryam Nearing (PEP Publishing, 1992, 1989, 1984). If there was one central instigator of the modern polyamory movement, Ryam Nearing would be it. Focusing especially on closed polyfidelity, she was the sparkplug who built Loving More magazine and its conferences, the movement's central nexus before the internet. Her early how-to manual The Polyfidelity Primer went through several editions and is now a hard-to-find collector's item.

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August 28, 2014

Polygamy and polyamory decriminalization becomes law in Utah


Kody Brown poses with his wives (from left) Janelle, Christine, Meri and Robyn in a promotional photo for TLC's reality TV show Sister Wives.

The victory that the polygamous Kody Brown family won in federal court last December became final with a judge's ruling yesterday (August 27th) — unless the state of Utah succeeds in overturning it on a possible appeal.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last December 13th that Utah cannot continue to outlaw cohabitation with another person while married, nor can it outlaw people calling each other "husbands" and "wives" informally as long as they do not purport to have more than one official marriage. Yesterday, Judge Waddoups additionally ruled that the Browns are entitled to attorneys' fees, settling the last count in the case. It is now legal for three or more people to live together as partners in Utah.

At least for now. The state has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

The Browns are members of a small Mormon sect, but legally they are identical to a secular polyamorous group. They claim only one legal marriage among them (between Kody and his first wife); the others file their taxes as single and do not otherwise claim marriage benefits. Attempting to have two marriage licenses active at once remains against the law.

A National Public Radio story, with links:


Federal Judge Strikes Down Part Of Utah's Polygamy Ban

...The case is high profile partly because the suit was brought forth by the Brown family, the stars of the TLC show Sister Wives. It's also important because as it works its way through the appeals process, it has the potential to become a landmark.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reads the decision, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups says the part of the law that prohibits cohabitation between adults to whom they are not legally married violates both the First and 14th Amendments.

The paper adds:

"Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

"Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

"In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns' constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns' rights to free speech, religion and equal protection."

...In a blog post, the Brown family's lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said he hopes that the AG will not appeal the case. He said that Americans should not fear prosecution solely because of the structure of their family.

"Neither the Attorney General nor the state of Utah should fight a ruling that reaffirmed freedom of religion and equal protection," Turley wrote. "Utah is a state that was founded by citizens seeking those very rights against government abuse. Utah is a better place because of the courageous decision of Judge Waddoups and the commitment of the Brown family in defense of our Constitution."


See the original (Aug. 28, 2014).

The judge's ruling.

Good backgrounder from Buzzfeed, with more links: Polygamy Is Legal In Utah, For Now.

From an Associated Press story:


"This was a historic ruling that I believe will stand the test of time," [the Browns' lawyer Jonathan] Turley said. He said the family would continue the legal battle to an appeals court or even the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The Browns said they were forced to leave Utah for Las Vegas in 2011 in fear of prosecution. Turley said Wednesday he didn't know if the Brown family would return in the wake of the ruling.

"The important thing is that they now can move back to Utah," Turley said, adding that the family has missed the state. "They now have the choice."

Fundamentalist Mormon polygamists believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Mormon church strictly prohibits the practice.


Utah governor Gary Herbert is urging his attorney general to appeal. From thenewcivilrightsmovement.com: "Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is fighting to retain his position in the November election, will likely appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Reyes has also mounted an expensive full-frontal attempt to defend Utah's same-sex marriage ban."

New York magazine notes,


Antiquated anti-cohabitation laws are apparently still on the books in three states: Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi. And of course, plenty of non-Mormons cohabit with multiple partners as well. They just call it polyamory.


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