To deepen our understanding of how the different love-styles compare, contrast and interact, let’s go back to the Venn Diagram. So we’ve established A represents Poly, B represents Swinging and AB represents their overlap. Now let’s see what happens when we add another identity such as Queer? Let’s say C represents Queer (the umbrella term for Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and any other gender bending possibility.)
Let’s get personal and apply this diagram to Kamala's love life.
A. Kamala is decidedly Poly.
B. Kamala doesn’t exactly identify as a swinger, but has been known to go to an occassional lifestyle event.
C. The label Queer fits kamala like a tight black dress. Frankly, she would feel lost without her hard-earned freedom to love women. Even when she is practicing tantra and poly with mostly men, her queer identity is ever present and that's why she places herself at ABC, the nucleus of this diagram.
You may be wondering how being queer interplays with being poly and swinging? Well, just as there is often an 'axe to grind' between swingers and poly people, they also vary greatly in their attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Being a queer man is frequently feared and frowned upon at lifestyle event, but warmly welcomed in most poly circles. Whereas being a "Hot Bi Babe" is highly sought after in most any alternative community!
So now, let’s see what happens when we add Tantra into the mix. So we’ve established:
Though there is much mystique and confusion about what Tantra actually is, it’s important to note that Tantra and Polyamory are NOT inherently related. Most Tantra people do not practice Poly; just as most Poly People don't practice Tantra. The vast majority of Tantra teachers from India and the west advocate monogamy as a way to strengthen the pair bond and maintain a safe container for the intense growth stimulated by Tantra. Some schools of Tantra even mandate monogamy before they offer certain tantric imitations.
Further, most modern tantric circles operate like heterosexual institututions. Gays and lesbians are frequently discriminated against because of the emphasis placed on god/goddess polarity. Some Tantra teachers feel that Queer Tantra is a bastardization of the lineage.
Despite the opinions of such ‘old school’ teachings, Kamala has found that practicing sacred sex with her female lovers is natural, rich and deeply growthful. Also, tantric philosophy has dramatically improved her experience of polyamory. Tantra offers tools and philosophy that makes loving more than one person easier, deeper and far more ecstatic. Further, she feels that with the modern demands of working from home and taking care of two year old toddler, it is especially enriching to practice sacred sex with someone with whom she does not share household responsibilities. Her beloved Michael reaps the rewards whenever she decides to take on a tantric lover.
Kamala recalls the strange and star-crossed night when Tantra and Swinging collided. She was invited to assist a local teacher as she lead an introductory puja at a local swing club. The theme of the evening was Arabian nights and many beautiful men and women were dressed in sexy god and goddess costumes. When it came to actually doing the practice there was a tremendous amount of discomfort and resistance. This was a packed room of highly sexually charged individuals who may have no problem getting naked and having an orgy, but when they were asked to look into each others eyes, breath deeply, touch each others hearts there was an explosion of tears and movement of women and men running off to the bathroom to hide the crisis. Needless to say, we were not invited back to teach tantra any time soon.
So you can see how dynamic it is to manage a multiplicity of identities and communities. Are you following all this? Ready to add another dimension?
About a dozen years ago, when Kamala Lived in Hawaii and was being initiated into Tantra, she met and moved in with a lesbian dominatrix named Mistress Bleu. Kamala worked for a short period as her professional submissive and studied the art of bondage. To many students of sacred sex it might have seemed like a contradiction to delve into a dark art such as B/D, but through conscious intention Kamala experienced deep states of surrender, expansion and ecstasy that was as transcendental as anything she had experienced in Tantra. Through the years Kamala’s met many Kinky people who see BDSM as their spiritual outlet. Intention, communication and ritual are key elements in both Tantra and S/M role playing. Dossie Easton is a role model in the world of weaving multiple paths together, she not only co-authored the Free Love bible called The Ethical Slut but she also penned the New Bottoming Book and When Someone You Love is Kinky.
Now let’s add the BDSM or Kink element and break it down:
(revise the following)
AB. Poly Swingers
BC Queer Swingers
CD Kinky Tantrikas
AD Poly Tantrikas
AC Kinky Polyfolk
BD Tantric Swingers
AE Queer Polyfolk
BE Queer Swingers
CE Kinky Queers
DE Tantric Queers
ABC Kinky Poly Swingers
ACD Kinky Poly tantrikas
ABD Poly tantra Swingers
BCD Kinky tantra Swingers
ABCD Kinky Poly swinging Tantrikas.
BCDE Queer tantrik poly swingers
ACDE Poly Kinky Tantric Queers
ABDE Poly SwingingTantric Queers
ABCE Poly Swining kinky Tantric Queers
ABCDE Queer Kinky Poly swinging Tantrikas
OK, so we’ve gotten a little geeky, but we hope you can see how a Kinky Tantric Bisexual Poly woman who occassionally goes to swing clubs may get sucked into center of the Venn vortex where ABCDE overlap. Yet, that does not necessarily mean all of these lovestlyes work for all her lovers. Kamala’s Life Partner Michael is happy to share Tantra, poly, and swinging but he is not bisexual. He may acompany her to Gay Pride and other queer events, but unless there is overwhelming mutual attraction with Kamala's female lover, it's up to her to express her queerness on her own. Additionally, Michael clearly does NOT share her appreciation for the finer arts of domination and submission, he is clear that activities involving the giving or receiving of pain don't do it for him. So if she has the urge to explore more exreme sensation play, she will take care of her own needs by going to a Kinky event. So we can see how unrealistic it would be for an ethical slut with a range of tastes and intersts to expect to get their needs met from just one person.
Now are you ready for a test? To see if you truly get it, let's walk through an imaginary example: Let’s imagine Kamala decides to go off to a dungeon party and meets an attractive European Gypsy named Ivan with whom she feels safe enough to submit. Ivan is happy to practice his flogging on Kamala but clearly communicates that it is only play, with no strings attached. Where would you place Ivan?
Let’s pretend Ivan has a slave girlfriend named Barbara who is deeply devoted to him and does not play with anyone else, but she is totally in love with her tantric coach, Shiva and they run energy together but they are not sexual. Would she would be sitting in the kinky sidelines called C or the overlap with poly and tantra?
Now it turns out that Shiva is not a natural born man. He's a pre-operation female to male transgendered person. So where do you put him on our venn diagram? And does that tip Barbra's placement over to the queer quadrant?
Ultimately it's up to them. Nobody can define our identity or community belongingness but us.
Now, this final exercise should help bring it all together. Let’s cast a big circle around the whole thing. The biggest circle is Free Love. Assuming everyone is practicing ethically (and that’s a big assumption) cheating would fall outside of the circle and everything else would be under the broad umbrella.
And finally we’re going to add monogomy. Monogomy is different than all the previous categories because it does not fall under the category of free love, but there are exceptional overlaps with many categories. For example, it is not normallly thought of as overlapping with polyamory but there are people in poly-mono relationship (wherin one mongomous person is committed to a poly person.) Another exception is that Swinging is considered by some to be a form of monogomy with the exeption of recreational sex. And ofcourse there are tons of kinky tantric and queer monogamist. And then there are vanilla monogomists who are not practicing free love at all so they bleed outside the circle of Free Love completely.
Aw. now isn't that pretty? Still it is a static and limited illustration of something that’s actually technocolor, fluid and three dimensional. The point isn’t to capture and codify, it’s just to create a visual representation of your living, breathing identities, relationships and communities. If you’re in a relationship with 2 or 10 people over the course of 15 years, you are always changing and exploring nothing stays the same.
And when I contrast this to the monogamous vow of “till death do us part.” I think something’s missing. It’s like mother/father/church and state wants to put us in a pretty little picture. It's like taking a snapshot on the wedding day and it’s frozen. Most of us were taught that relationships are this rigid thing, and that stability and security come from keeping things as simple as they were the day you met. But reality is not like that. The reality of free love is more like the reality of raising children. As time goes by they grow. That’s the law of nature. If we could only get that in our relationships, then our whole society would open and maybe grow up.
Exerpts from Free Love: Can you Really Afford it by Kamala Devi and REiD Mihalko. If you like this article please leave a comment with encouragement for more!