Ugly on the Surface: The Online Polyamory Community vs. Reality

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Photo by  darkday / CC BY 2.0

The other day, I read a hilariously off the rails opinion piece criticizing the polyamory community for being too inclusive and engaging in identity politics, touting these things as harbingers of doom for polyamory. While I could certainly spend an entire entry ripping apart the notion that it’s a bad thing that there’s too many different people bringing their own ideals of how to be polyamorous and that marginalized groups are trying to get their two cents in is a problem, I can’t remember where I read the article and I’m not going to try to pick it apart from memory.

Instead, I’m going to write about a thought that occurred to me while I was reading the article. That the online polyamory community is not an accurate reflection of what the polyamory community is actually like. It feels like that should be stating the obvious, but there are a few key things that some people seem to miss about being a part of the online polyamory community.

  1. People are much more apt to aggressively soap box for their ideologies online.
  2. Controversial posts and arguments tend to generate a much larger number of comments. Positive posts rarely elicit a great deal of commenting back and forth.
  3. There are people for whom shit stirring online is a hobby.
  4. Facebook’s algorithms are inclined to keep shoving heavily commented on posts into your face via your feed so that you’ll see the same argument a dozen times while a dozen more positive posts will slip right by unseen.
  5. People arguing isn’t always a bad thing. Exchanging ideas is often a good thing, even when people can get a little overly passionate about advocating their point of view or are closed to other people’s points of view. Even when two stubborn assholes are going at it with no chance of either of them actually listening to the other, there’s an audience who that can possibly absorb both sides of the argument more objectively.

No, the polyamory community isn’t ever going to see eye to eye with itself over some things. What group that large does? I’m pretty sure there’s at least three major warring factions among Feminists and they’re still a larger and more powerful cultural force than polyamory can hope to be anytime soon, because ultimately for all the disagreements their goals overlap enough that they can generally come together for the important things. They’re not going away.

The polyamory community is the same. Some relationship anarchists might not be terribly supportive of the hierarchical polyamorists’ style of relationship on a philosophical level, but that won’t stop them from standing up for a FMF triad who is fighting against moralizing authorities trying to take their children over their relationship dynamic. We may bicker, but in the end we’re still a community and we still look out for each other where it counts, even when we can be judgmental pricks about how much more right our relationship paradigm is than someone else’s.

Most importantly, I can’t think of a single time in the two decades I’ve been proactively a part of any meat world polyamory community that I’ve been witness to any but the most civil of disagreements about ethical non-monogamy. I’ve yet to see people start viciously  ripping into a couple that talk about how they’re looking for a third to complete them. Online, I see so many newcomers to polyamory torn to shreds by people reacting with aggressive hostility towards their naivety, while any face to face gathering of polyamorous people I’ve been a part of has always been friendly and welcoming to people taking their first steps out of the monogamy box.

To have the best experience in the online polyamory community, I think it’s useful to keep the following in mind.

1. Take negative feedback with a grain of salt.

It’s good to consider constructive criticism, even if we ultimately don’t agree with it, but if someone’s riding on a high horse and being an asshole there’s not much point in even paying attention to them, much less getting emotionally invested in an argument with them.  Certainly don’t let such people dominate your experience within the community, because as long as you’re not an asshole yourself you can find plenty of non-asshole polyamorous people to engage in much more pleasant and constructive ways.

2. Be careful about how you give negative feedback.

I’m not going to tell you to never be critical of other people’s ideals, but do avoid being a dick about. It’s not like anyone is going to attribute much value to your opinion if you piss them off while expressing it. If you’re going to say something negative, it’s good to consider whether you’d phrase it in the same way if you were face to face with someone. If not, then you’re probably being an asshole. This measure of course only works if you’re not an asshole in real life too, instead of one of the many people who feel more confident behind a keyboard while simultaneously gaining a level of detachment from the idea that they’re talking to actual people that combines into a particular kind of callousness. It can be hard to maintain empathy for people you’re interacting with through a screen, but for civility’s sake try.

3. Don’t project  your own baggage onto someone else. Something you see a lot of in polyamory discussion groups is people who had an experience with an abusive relationship of a certain sort and they characterize all relationships of that sort as abusive rather than considering that what made the relationship abusive was the people they were involved with and not the style of the relationship.

There’s no such thing as a relationship style immune to potential abuse with the wrong partner, nor are there a lot of consensual relationship styles that don’t have the potential to be healthy and fulfilling with the right partners. So acting as though you can judge people solely by the kind of relationship they’re in or seeking is pretty shitty.

4. Look for well moderated groups. When left to their own devices, polyamory groups tend to be absolutely overrun with posts that are essentially personal ads. One of the most common frustrations in polyamory is finding suitable partners so without anything to rein that in, polyamory groups are among the thirstiest places on the internet. Which of course means that the other half of the posts become about people complaining about all those posts.  If you want to have meaningful conversations with other ethical non-monogamists, it’s best to find groups that have rules in place to prevent personal ads and admins that enforce those rules.

Anyway…

To get back to my original point, despite how ugly the online polyamory community can look on the surface, the polyamory community as a whole is doing just fine. While we can certainly stand to improve, we are thriving and expanding like crazy. Of course there are going to be some growing pains. That’s to be expected. However, I have seen no evidence that there’s anything to be worried about. The occasional online flame war isn’t going to burn the polyamory community to the ground anymore than any other community has been brought to its knees because its members argue online a lot. Sci-fi fandom? Sports enthusiasts? I’m pretty sure if the internet had been around in the 18th century, people would be flaming each other over Mozart.

Hell, there are probably people right now flaming each other over Mozart. Music fans are among the worst for shit talking each others tastes.  Yet music lives on and so will polyamory.

Checking In From New York City

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As foretold in earlier entries, I’ve done the thing and moved to New York City.  Even though it had been in the works for several weeks, I have to admit that it didn’t seem completely real to me until I got off the Greyhound bus in Manhattan with the knowledge that I had no plan for returning to Atlanta. At least not anytime soon. Brooklyn is where I call home now, and for the foreseeable future anywhere else I go is be just a visit.

This month has been extremely challenging for me with all the major changes, but now the biggest foreseeable obstacles are behind me and I’ve been reaping the rewards of breaking out of the routine I’d gotten stuck in back in Atlanta. I’m absolutely in love with Brooklyn. I live with one of my oldest friends whom I love like a brother. I can look across the room as I write this to see a woman I have deep love for. I’ve even found a new favorite bar staggering distance from where I live.

I still have a lot of work ahead of me to achieve my goals, but in this moment I’m just happy appreciating how much better my life is now than it was a little over a year ago. I’m really excited by all the potential this new direction opens for me.  Now that I’m mostly settled in and a new month starts tomorrow, I’m looking forward to digging into my huge pile of mini-goals that I will hopefully put me back on track to have the life I want.

Discerning Deviant updates should become more frequent and start having more think pieces again to balance out the personal journey stuff that’s kind of dominated things lately.

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My Frolicon 2017 Experience

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I’m still extremely bogged down in trying to get things sorted out for my pending move from Atlanta to New York City, but I wanted to go ahead and get some general thoughts out about Frolicon 2017.

The question I got most often through the weekend was how the panels I hosted went, to which I typically responded with “Two out of three weren’t complete disasters.” That exceeded my expectations but fell short of my hopes. They could have easily all been disasters under the circumstances. Not only was it my first time trying to overcome my anxiety in order to speak in front of a large group of people for an hour at a time, I was woefully underprepared because I was also struggling with getting ready for moving an unprecedented distance unassisted. Then to really kick myself in the balls, I managed to lose all my notes the day of con.

It was, frankly, a clusterfuck and I knew going into each panel that I would be putting myself through a meat grinder of embarrassment. I stuck it out anyway. As terrifying as it was, I refused to let fear keep me from doing something I wanted to do, so I did the thing anyway. It was quite the learning experience and while I wouldn’t say that any of my panels went well, only one of the three was a complete bomb owing largely to it being the one I was going to be most dependent on my notes for. It also only had a few people show up for it and something I discovered is that it’s actually a lot easier to speak to a large room full of people than 3-5 strangers whose attention is focused on you. So everything about my second panel was the perfect storm of fail.

My first and third panels, however, I stumbled through but was at least able to talk about the things I wanted to talk about and engage with the audience without spending a lot of time locked up and unsure of what to say because my brain was overpowered by anxiety. While I’m sure I still looked a fool to many people gathered, I know some people got something positive out of the panels and that’s enough for me to not count them as losses.

The highlight of the weekend for me was reconnecting with friends from out of town, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. I’m one of those people who is terrible about staying connected to people who live far away even when I care a great deal about them. So having the opportunity to spend significant time with an assortment of people I have missed was a real delight, even if I didn’t get to spend as much time with some as I would have liked.

The convention itself felt a lot smaller and more subdued than the last Frolicon I attended in 2013. The dealer room felt positively tiny. As far as I could tell there were only two room parties on Friday night and two on Saturday night. They were less party battles than party duels, and I’ve seen walk in closets bigger than some of the spaces these parties were in. I’m not sure if there’s some sort of limitations due to the new hotel that keep the parties limited to smaller spaces (in my previous Frolicon experiences the best parties were in larger suites or connected rooms) or if there just hadn’t been anyone stepping up to

That’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of fun to be had. I had a fantastic time. It was just a little harder to find since most of the real partying seemed to be of friends grouping up to drink and debauch in their private rooms. I kind of like this because to me frolicking with ten people that are a mix of really good friends and their friends I haven’t met before in a mostly private space is just about the ideal situation, but I have a feeling that if I hadn’t known the right people I would have ended up being disappointed in the lack of mischief to get up to in the wee hours when the official programming was wound down.

Other than wishing the water coolers had been more abundant and better maintained, I don’t really have anything else critical to say about the convention. It had an excellent assortment of panels, including a lot more polyamory related panels than they have had at Frolicons I’ve attended in the past, which made me happy. The dungeon space was huge and well stocked with a wide variety of equipment. The official programming was solid. The food at the Sheraton restaurant was amazeballs.

That about covers the general overview. If I were to rate Frolicon 2017 and my personal experience of it, I’d give it four out of five stars. Now if you’ll excuse me I just found out that I have to slam my ass into top gear. At least this means that this moving stuff will soon be over and done.

Winter Arcane’s Frolicon 2017 Panels

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I’ve mentioned before that I’ll be making my debut as a presenter on three polyamory related panels at Frolicon 2017. With the recent release of the schedule for the Think Track, I now know when those classes are.

Introduction to Polyamory
Thursday (4/14) / 4:00 PM-5:15 PM / Room GA3

Polyamory is the philosophy of being open to having multiple romantic relationships simultaneously and its popularity is growing rapidly. This class is for all those who are taking their first steps into the world of love without traditional limitations. Learn some of the pros and cons of letting go of romantic and sexual exclusivity in relationships, some of the red flags that give warning that trouble lies ahead, and some of the strategies that can help avoid common pitfalls along the way.

The Jargon of Polyamory
Thursday (4/14) / 7:00 PM-8:15 PM / Room GA 9

Are you and your partner unicorn hunters? Do you feel compersion when you see your partner kiss someone else? Are you friends with your metamour? Well, if you’re new to polyamory and the community that has formed around it you may not even know what the hell those questions are asking. This class is here to help get you acquainted with the unusual words found all over polyamory forums and articles.

From Monogamish to Relationship Anarchy: The Many Flavors of Ethical Non-monogamy
Friday (4/15) / 10:00 AM-11:15 AM / Room GA 9

For most people who practice Ethical Non-Monogamy, Polyamory is an adequate umbrella under which to come together as a community. However, there are many styles of Ethical Non-Monogamy out there. In this class we’ll discuss the various labels floating around the Polyamory community (as well as some types of Ethical Non-Monogamy that exist outside of the Polyamory umbrella) and their varied interpretations.

(Discerning Deviant is supported entirely through reader sponsorship via the Discerning Deviant Patreon.)

 

The Freedom Of Commitment

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“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Someone once posted this quote in a polyamory related group and someone commented “Love in such a way that YOU feel free”.

This came right after I had been in another discussion in which I had been commenting on conflating commitment with control. It’s one of the most common misconceptions about ethical non-monogamy that being polyamorous means being chronically unable to commit. While that’s not widely true in my experience, there are clearly some individuals for whom that is the case. They strongly connect the idea of commitment to loss of freedom.

This got me to thinking about the dichotomy of how I’m one of the most doggedly committed people you’ll ever meet in terms of honoring my relationship agreements, yet I have never felt anything other than completely free in my relationships. This has remained true no matter how many partners I have any given time. Just because I never agree to complete sexual or romantic exclusivity in my relationships doesn’t mean it’s not important to me to honor the agreements I do make.

A lot of that, I know, has to do with my propensity for being very clear in negotiating relationship terms. What would you like to be able to expect from me? What can I expect from you? I try not to leave anything to assumptions when making the transition from friend to committed relationship. Therefore, I avoid most of the bullshit that many relationships step into just because the people involved had a different idea of what being in a relationship meant.

I think more importantly, though, is that I have a strong sense of who I am and who I want to be, and a central part of my self-identity is loyalty. So, to me resisting temptation is an act of strength, not weakness. Because I see it as staying true to the choices that I made. Like when someone decides they are morally opposed to the meat industry, even though they really love bacon. They don’t see the limitation of their diet as something to be shameful of. If anything, vegans are infamous for often developing an obnoxious sense of pride about their dietary limitations. I could be fairly accused of having an equally obnoxious sense of pride about the fact that unlike many people I am not so controlled by desire that I’m willing to compromise my values just to get my dick wet.

The one time I did was when I was 18 and I cheated on my fiancé. As appealing as it might have been at the time to justify the cheating, I knew it to be an act of weakness even as I did it. My only act of strength had been to recognize it and do the best I could to set it right by immediately telling my fiancé and taking full responsibility for my actions. There was no “I wouldn’t have been so sexually frustrated if you’d have sex before marriage…it’s not like you’re a virgin. I was having sex non-stop with my last partner. What did you expect?” It was more along the lines “I know you trusted me not to do this and I failed you. I’ve wronged you, and you have every right to be angry with me. I can’t change what I did, but I am deeply sorry for it. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ll understand if you don’t.”

I believe because I accepted that responsibility…because I was appropriately ashamed of my choice…that it made it easy to resist subsequent temptation, and that is strength, not weakness. Part of being strong is doing what’s right (in terms of your own value system) even when it’s not the most immediately satisfying thing to do. We don’t call someone who has been going to Alcoholics Anonymous because they’re trying to stop drinking empowered when they accept a beer someone offers them because they’re really craving that drink. No, we regard them as free when they are able to stand by their choice not to drink, despite how much part of them may really want it.

Being free is choosing your own values and having the strength to stick to them even when it’s not immediately rewarding. Choosing for yourself is meaningless if you cannot consistently stand by your choices. Otherwise, your path is controlled for you by the series of temptations that present themselves to you.

That’s not to say that anyone should stay in a situation that’s miserable for them. Nobody is perfect. Some choices just don’t work out. While we should consider our exit strategies while making those choices and factor them in, it’s normal in one’s enthusiasm to not consider all possibilities. There’s no power in not being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake or even that things have changed in a way that couldn’t be foreseen. Taking ownership of our failures instead of denying them or avoiding responsibility for them is one of the important parts of getting better at making choices.

To me, commitment isn’t a matter of giving control to someone else. It’s having control over myself and being true to the obligations I choose in the name of reaching my own goals and staying true to my own values. Nobody else owns me. I own my decisions and can (almost always with rare exceptions) be proud of them. What is more liberating than that?

(Discerning Deviant is supported entirely through reader sponsorship via the Discerning Deviant Patreon.)

Songs of Ethical Non-Monogamy, Part 1

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Monogamists have an endless supply of one true love songs to reflect their approach to relationships. Likewise, there are countless odes to no-strings sexual relationships. You can find whole albums dedicated exclusively to either of them. Polyamorists and people who practice similar forms of Ethical Non-Monogamy, however, have a much more limited pool of popular music to relate to.

While there are other lists out there (and I’m not going to pretend I didn’t reference them while making this one), they’re often loaded with songs that are really just about cheating or simply loveless fucking around. For example, one list contains The Offspring’s “Self-Esteem” which is a song about a guy whose girlfriend is constantly cheating on him and is miserable about it but he doesn’t have the spine to break up with her. That, to me, is not a song about any flavor of Ethical Non-Monogamy.

So I decided to make my own list, personally curating it to meet the a specific criteria of being about someone having multiple lovers in an honest manner and having an ongoing romantic relationship with at least one of those lovers to distinguish it from simply being about no strings sex. There are those who practice no strings Ethical Non-Monogamy, forming no ongoing relationships, but there are too many songs about people having multiple casual sex partners. There are artists who build their entire career around being sexual liberated and not being tied down to anyone, so I don’t think people practicing that form of Ethical Non-Monogamy are hurting for songs to relate to.

I also only included songs I could find on YouTube videos to link to so people can actually listen to the songs. That is the main reason this list has been taking so long to compile and I’m only posting half the list right now. I find it incredibly difficult to listen to music without getting lost in music. For each song on this list, I probably spent 15-20 minutes listening to that song, reading its lyrics, and writing its entry and another 40-60 minutes going down YouTube’s rabbit hole of suggested videos. There were also a lot of songs I did all that with then ended up not including because they didn’t meet the criteria.

Expect the second half of the list next month, as well as a page merging them as a singular reference.  For now, I hope you enjoy what I’ve got so far. As time consuming as making this list was, it was also a lot of fun.

1, 2. 3 (You, Her, and Me)” by Rick James

This fun Rick James groove portrays an all too common entry point into Ethical Non-Monogamy…a dude getting busted cheating and turning it into a pitch for a triad. It may be a bit light on the ethical part of ethical non-monogamy, the singer at least sounds like he’s laying it all on the table, now that he’s caught, that he loves both women (“My love for you is so strong, my love for her is unwrong!”) and wants to go on openly loving them both (“We could be together, the three of us forever!”). It’s kind of hard to root for the guy even if we stay within the scene painted by the song and don’t apply what we know about Rick James himself to it, but it’s hard to deny that there are people in the world of ethical non-monogamy who entered it as refugees of unethical non-monogamy.

3” by Britney Spears

Reading the comment section of the official YouTube video of this song is a real treat if you love watching people’s innocence destroyed by the realization that Britney Spears released a chart topping pop song about group sex (mostly threesomes, though she does up the ante to a foursome in one line). Also, unlike Rick James above, she’s not dwelling on love or bringing up commitment…she’s all about making group sex sound like awesome fun (“merrier the more,

triple fun that way, twister on the floor, what do you say”). She seems extremely up front about it, though, not needing to get busted before putting it on the table that she’s super down for a threesome or maybe even moresome. She even very sweetly assures her partner that it’s cool if they’re not interested in more than one on one (“what we do is innocent, just for fun and nothin’ meant, if you don’t like the company, let’s just do it you and me”). That kind of forthrightness is tops in my book.

All My Lovers” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl

This ambient sounding track, by a dark wave group I’ll confess I’d never heard before I started researching this list, is sung from the point of view of a woman describing sexual intimacy with one lover (“he touches my hair, touches my breast, I feel him inside me”) while reassuring another (“and I don’t love you less, because of them, I don’t need you less, when I feel his caress”). She seems to luxuriate in the wonderfulness of being free to be open in such a way (“My lovers help me brush away deception from my path, back to a place where thoughts are pure, nothing to hide”).

Cactus Tree” by Joni Mitchell

This lovely folk ballad from the 60’s portrays a woman who loves and is loved by multiple men (“there’s a lady, in the city, and she thinks she loves them all.”) but is very much attached to her freedom and turns away from becoming enmeshed (“Now she rallies her defenses, for she fears that one will ask her for eternity, and she’s so busy being free”). It’s not clear that the men know about each other, but it seems obvious enough that she’s not made any commitments to any of them either.

Culture Shock” by Olivia Newton John

This was one of the more surprising songs I dug up in my research. It’s a fairly bland song even by contemporary pop standards, but Olivia Newton John was not someone I expected to have such a blatantly pro-ethical non-monogamy song in 1985. It’s a classic polyamory scenario of a woman confessing to her long term partner that she’s fallen in love with another man and doesn’t want to give either of them up (“You gotta know, I didn’t plan it, it was the last thing on my mind/How can you love two people at the same time? Ooh ooh/Now I don’t wanna lose you, but I can’t give him up”). She doesn’t really beat around the bush either, getting straight to making a case for the end she desires (“I know it’s unconventional, radical but practical/Why can’t the three of us live together?”).

Family” by Gaia Consort

This bouncy folk rock song is notable for being the theme song for “Family”, an episodic web series about polyamory. Unsurprisingly given the title, it reflects a more family-oriented style of Ethical Non-Monogamy than most of this list (“All the outs are in free, the babies are sleeping/Time enough for love when everybody puts a hand in”).

The French Song” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

This rock song barely made the cut, as the English lyrics could be construed as an invitation to cheat, but the French lyrics are more explicit that what the singer is angling for is a threesome (“J’aime faire l’amour sur tout a trois” translates to “I love to make love, especially with three”). Apparently Joan wanted to make a song about threesomes but didn’t want to offend anyone so she had her French speaking guitar tech right the chorus in French. It almost gets cut off by the list by the viewpoint character not having an ongoing relationship with the person she’s trying to sell on the threesome, but it sounds like the person she’s talking to is part of an established couple so I’m going to count it.
Happy Guy” by Devo

This fairly standard Devo track tells of a man in love with two different women (“He was twice in love/with two very different girls”) and it working out pretty well for him (“Knowing life was short/He told them both the truth/But they already knew/Now he’s a happy guy”). At least for a while. Later in the song it talks about a less joyous scenario (“Let me tell you about a man/A tragic case/Love kicked in his face/He shriveled up and died/From a broken heart”) and it could be the same guy, indicating that his happy trio didn’t work out in the end, but it clearly did for a while so I’m counting it. Also, the song has a pretty uplifting ending (“Reincarnated as a work of art/He’s got a brand new start/Hey!/Now he’s a happy guy”).

Let’s Invite Them Over” by George Jones and Melba Montgomery

A sad country duet about a couple who are in love with their friends instead of each other. Though they’ve clearly had their friends over before, they clearly feel guilty about it (“We’ve talked it over and over/And we know it’s not right”) but also really want to do it again (“Yes we stay away for a while/But we know in the end/We’ll invite them over again”). It sounds like the pieces are there for a potentially happy situation if they could get over their shame (to be fair, the song was released in 1963, so they could be forgiven for feeling uncomfortable breaking the norm of society).

Light of Some Kind” by Ani DiFranco

Another song that sounds like a pretty realistic situation. A woman unfaithful to her boyfriend is uncomfortable with deception (“’cause we both know what i’ve been doing/i’ve been intentionally bad at lying”), coming clean that she’s fallen for another woman (“she came up to me with the sweetest face/and she was holding a light of some kind”). She doesn’t want this situation to be the end of them, but rather he should do as she’s done  (“and i still think of you as my boyfriend/i don’t think this is the end of the world/but i think maybe you should follow my example/and go meet yourself a really nice girl”). However, it sounds like the boyfriend may have a strictly monogamous mindset (“in the end the world comes down to just a few people/but for you it comes down to one”) so the song ends on a sad note. Even so, I really like this song for its realness.

Love In Stereo” by The Monks

This pop punk song sure doesn’t make it sound like the guy singing it is having very much fun being in a relationship with two women (“You might well look on and envy me/But this feelin’ isn’t so hi-fi”), as it’s mostly a recitation of all the hassle it is having two women who have different needs (“One wants to stay at home/the other wants the night out/one wants to read in bed/the other wants the light out”). He sounds like he’d much rather be in a monogamous relationship, but he’s the one choosing to have two relationships simultaneously instead of making a choice between his two lovers, so his polyamorous situation is all on him.

My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” by Type O-Negative

This song was a wild departure from the gothic metal sound that permeates most of Type O-Negative’s music, with its bouncy keyboards and upbeat rhythm. The only thing tying it to their signature sound is the late Peter Steele’s always sinister sounding voice. The man could have sung the My Little Pony theme song and it would have had a touch of darkness in it. Another song about a man with two lovers, he’s having a much better time of it than the “Love In Stereo” guy (“They keep me warm on cold nights/We must be quite a sight/In our meat triangle/All tangled”).

My Girl’s Got A Girlfriend” by Ray Lavender

What does Ray Lavender, whom I’d never heard of before making this list, do when he finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him with another woman (“I hear moanin’/Fo’ real somebody, I finna kill somebody/Then I get closer, I hear groanin’/Bust in the door and see my girl wit a chick”)? Well, according to this song he just slides into bed with them (“I’d rather just join in/Keep my girl and keep the other one too/My girl gotta girlfriend, Hey!/It really it’s not a problem/’Cause Ima make it do what it do, girl!”). Girlfriend fucking another guy equals murder, girlfriend fucking another girl equals a happy surprise. Got it…we’ll file you firmly into the One Penis Policy category. It may be a bit misogynistic, but he’s definitely into keeping things going in an openly non-monogamous way so it makes the list.

(Discerning Deviant is supported entirely through reader sponsorship via the Discerning Deviant Patreon.)

The Deviant’s Direction Deviates

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Since the last Discerning Deviant entry, way too long ago, I have been going through a whirlwind of major life changes. It’s all been very exciting but it’s also been extremely distracting. I’ve been way off track on my writing projects, including the articles I’ve been working on for Discerning Deviant, while I try to tie together all the crazy plot threads that have entered my life.

The biggest thing I’m dealing with right now is that this Spring I’ll be relocating from Atlanta to New York City. This is an extremely daunting transition for me, having spent all my life living in the south. I’ve spent the last dozen years in Atlanta and there are numerous people and places that I love here that I’m going to miss.

It’s long past time for me to move on, though. I’m an adventurer at heart. While that doesn’t have to mean roaming geographically for me, I’ve not been satisfied with what Atlanta has had to offer in terms of opportunities for growth for quite some time. That’s why I’ve been planning my Ephemeral Journey (in which I intend to spend 2018 traveling all over the country living in a van for a year), but when it was clear that neither my housemate nor I felt especially inclined to renew our lease in the house we’re currently living in, it seemed like a good time to take up an old friend’s offer to come stay with him a while in NYC.

I only plan to be there about eight months before heading off for my Ephemeral Journey, but I’m eager to spend a fair bit of time immersing myself in a new city. Not just any city, either, but the most populous and legendary city in America. While I’ll be staying with one of my oldest friends, and one of my loves will be a borough away, pretty much everything else about living in New York will be a fresh experience for me. I am giddy with anticipation.

That’s not the only big news in my life, however. I was also recently invited to be a presenter at Frolicon, a convention in Atlanta that is a fantastic mashup of geek culture and alternative sexuality. While Frolicon caters more to the kinky crowd, they’ve been growing their selection of polyamory related content and I’m happy to throw my hat into the ring as a presenter on not one, not two, but three panels relating to ethical non-monogamy.

I don’t think I could have asked for more fortuitous timing. One of the things I intend to do on my Ephemeral Journey is host talks about polyamory in any city that I can find a venue in, because there’s nothing I love talking about more than ethical non-monogamy, particularly the polyamory flavor. However, I’ve engaged in many panels about ethical non-monogamy as a participating audience member, but I’ve never actually hosted one before. Now, on a silver platter, I’ve been handed an opportunity to get my feet wet at the convention I have the most familiarity with (this will be my 10th year attending) and to boot it will sort of make Frolicon my goodbye party since it will be the last Atlanta sees of me for an indefinite period of time.

Those are the two main things that have been occupying my time and attention of late, so I wanted to give my readers a heads up about what’s been going on to stall Discerning Deviant updates lately. I’ve joined the “habit-building and productivity app” Habitica in the interest of getting my shit together so that I’ll stop letting my writing time get crowded out by all the other things going.

If nothing else I see at least a few major articles coming out of all the research and preparation I’ll be doing for my Frolicon panels. Then when I get to New York and start trying to find my way around the various communities of personal interest to me there I’ll be getting plenty of inspiring stimulation. Not that I lack things to write about now…I have a whole list of things I want to write about…but writing for me requires a mental energy and focus that tends to be drained quickly when life feels like a repetitive grind and adventure is one of the best ways to refill that reservoir.

There is a lot of adventure ahead for me, and I can’t wait to share what I discover with you.

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