Wishing You and Your Family a Blissful 2014
New Year, New Possibilities…
Loving More Nonprofit would like to thank you from the bottom of our many hearts for the continued support of the community and the hard work of so many wonderful people and activists in 2013.
2013 in many ways has been a great year for the polyamory and the Loving More Community. As a movement, we have seen great strides forward in 2013. As we review the past year, we are very excited about the promise of real change in acceptance of polyamory and choice in relationships. This new hope for real change is a result of the many major shifts in our laws and people’s perceptions about relationships.
Below is a list of some of the important milestones for Polyamory in 2013:
The documentary I Love You and You…and You, about polyamory on Our America with Lisa Ling
Release of the results of the Loving More 2012 Survey of over 4000 self-identified polyamorists, largest polyamory survey to date of polyamorists.
Renewal of Showtime’s Polyamory; Married and Dating
DOMA decision by the Supreme Court
Open Love NY Spokespeople on The View
Huff Live doing live interviews with experienced polyamorists
The publishing of the first long term study of polyamory families, The Polyamorist Next Door by Elisabeth Sheff
The very important ruling on Utah’s Polygamy law
Numerous news articles, radio shows, TV shows and documentaries; from CNN to the Philadelphia Inquirer to Hidden in America. (You can find all the media coverage on the Polyamory in the News Website)
There is much to celebrate as we make the transition to a new year.
Loving More Nonprofit has been there, and will continue to be there, to help with research, help media find people to feature in news stories and documentaries, to find help and support for families with legal issues, counseling and information for people exploring polyamory as well as producing Poly Living, Loving More Retreat and Loving Choices Seminar.
We know that polyamory is gaining attention, and with it we as a community are likely to come under fire from conservatives and others who are challenged by the idea of loving more than one. As a movement and a community, we can face these challenges together!
We look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming events in 2014 and to seeing where the wave of momentum from 2013 will take the Polyamory Movement.
The Challenges of a Growing Movement
Now that DOMA has opened the door for same sex marriage and a US District Court has weakened the Utah Polygamy Law, more and more attention is turning to polyamory, polygamy and the possibility of legal multi-partnered marriage. Polyamory is said to be the next big social movement for equality and acceptance. As one article put it “And don’t look now, but the polyamorists are agitating openly for acceptance, as they have been quietly doing so for several years now.” (The Trentonian, Furthermore: After gay marriage, 12/17/13) The media attention keeps increasing exponentially and the attention has in large part been positive. This has caught the attention of conservatives and marriage traditionalists and focus is slowly turning from same sex marriage to polyamory and polygamy.
Polygamy and Polyamory
Polygamy and polyamory can make strange bedfellows indeed and many polyamorists are uncomfortable with the ways in which media connects the two movements. Like it or not, polyamorists and polygamists (actually polygynists) are in this together. Relationship choice is really at the heart of the polyamory movement and by definition includes the choice of polygyny (man with multiple wives). Freedom and choice in who we love as consenting adults is at stake and acceptance of polygyny is just as important as acceptance of polyamory, polyandry and other forms of non-monogamy. Polyamory may or may not include marriage-like commitments and it is our responsibility to educate and inform people of the differences and similarities.
The Cast of Sister Wives
We as a movement need to take a hard look at what it is in being associated with polygamy that bothers us so. The polygamy label has been broadly used incorrectly to describe religious based polygyny. In general, the polygynous practice being referred to is based in strong religious cults and strongly misogynist religions. Often in these cults women and children are abused, have little say in their lives and have been raised in a culture closed to any other possibility. Abuse of women and children in these communities is perpetuated by the religious beliefs and not necessarily by the practice of polygyny. There are adults who choose polygamy, polyandry or polygyny and are not part of a cult or abusing women and children. Recognizing that polygamy isn’t what causes the abuse and recognition that the abuse perpetuates out of isolation and secrecy in these cults is essential to addressing the real issues faced by women and children trapped in these situations. Mainstream polygamists who are consenting adult choosing a loving relationship should not be lumped in with these cults who practice forced polygyny. Polygamists, as represented by the Brown family of TLC’s Sister Wives, are in many ways our allies even though they may be very different in their beliefs.
Marginalizing of Polyamory
Over and over again the media makes claims that polyamory is practiced and desired by a very small percentage of the population. While there is truth that only a small minority of brave souls have been willing to explore and live a polyamorous life, this does not mean that only a few people desire more love and connection romantically. In 2007, while on the Montel Williams show, Montel made the statement that less than one percent of the population was even interested in polyamory. I said I strongly disagreed that “if polyamory was openly accepted” far more people would choose to be with more than one partner. Montel asked his audience if that was true and how many people would consider polyamorous relationships if it was an accepted lifestyle. To his surprise about thirty percent of the studio audience of 100 people raised their hand. This of course didn’t make the final cut of the aired show.
The media, especially television, appears to deliberately marginalize polyamory. While newspapers and radio seemingly have no issue with talking about the larger movement and national organizations working for polyamory awareness, most mainstream television seems disinclined to show the polyamory community and movement as organized in any way. Since there are no accurate numbers on non-monogamy, it is relatively easy to show it as a few strange people. Rarely does mainstream television talk about a national movement, national organizations or the numerous groups and websites. It is as if there is an effort to keep polyamory as fringe and not as an organized movement with a long history, national organizations, activists and groups who are pushing for acceptance.
Numerous studies have shown humans are by and large not naturally monogamous. Polyamory reveals for many a possible solution to the ongoing issues of failed monogamous relationships and so-called traditional marriage. The fear that polyamory may fundamentally change the current beliefs around relationships are likely the reality of polyamory gaining acceptance. Polyamory may currently be a very small segment of the population but what are the chances it will stay that way if polyamory becomes a valid and celebrated alternative to compulsory monogamy?
Growing Interest in Polyamory
With popularity of polyamorous relationships on the rise we as a movement need to be aware of the downside of this growth. Being in the closet may become harder and many people may find they are more likely to come under fire for their chosen lifestyle. Housing issues, job security and child custody are the most likely places we will see issues. Loving More Nonprofit is already aware of a rise in child custody cases where polyamory is being used to deny parental rights. We need to be prepared as a community and movement to help each other.
In addition polyamorists need to be prepared to deal with more headline’s like the recent article Polyamorous Relationship Ends In Brutal Beating Death where a husband and wife killed their girlfriend. Note that when a person is murdered in a monogamous relationship there are no headlines reading Monogamous Relationship Ends in Murder, though sadly in our modern world this is a common occurrence. Polyamory is likely to be targeted and/or mentioned in abuse cases and other tragedies as the one above even though it has little to do with why and what happened. This is inevitable as more people across a wider cross section of society decide to explore polyamory.
The world is changing, relationships are evolving and many people are looking for something different and more fulfilling. Change is not easy and as this transition takes hold, we will see a backlash by those who feel a need to control how people love. It is both an exciting and challenging time for polyamorists. Loving More Nonprofit is thrilled to be a part of a major transformation in human love and relationships. We will be here to educate, to inform, to work with the media and to support those who need help in their polyamorous relationships.