Monday, May 25

Accidental Activism for Free Love


I never set out to be a Free Love activist. Granted, in college I was a radical feminist writer and marched in every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender demonstration I could find. But I didn’t know about any multi-partner family agenda until after the Honolulu State constitution had been amended to take away the rights for Gays to marry and I swore off politics altogether. At the time I lived in a artist commune, of free thinkers that didn’t use labels. Actually, the first time I heard the term "polyamory," it was really uncomfortable for me. I wasn’t ready for it, and yet I had a boyfriend and a new girlfriend, and he had two other lovers, and I was living with one of his other lovers. We had this whole constellation of lovers, and yet we didn’t have labels. Meanwhile I was working really intensely on Gay pride and political movements, and really trying to further my Bisexual identity. I identified as Bisexual and I didn’t understand polyamory, other than knowing that as a Bisexual woman, to be fully expressed, I wasn’t going to limit myself to one gender. I had come to a place where I was clearly Bisexual, and at that point everyone in my life accepted me as I was, and then there was this other thing where I had him and two other women lovers. So I understood that I’m not just Bisexual but I’m capable of, and I thrive in, multiple loves.

Meanwhile, I was teaching yoga and tantra and even coaching couples in relationship, but I honestly thought that the way that I was living, and this thing that I felt was somewhat un-teachable. Still, people were attracted to the way I lived — "Wow, you have a girlfriend and a boyfriend and a few lovers, and everybody seems happy" — and they started asking me how I do it.
At first I didn’t have much political energy around polyamory, but then I was really looking around at my friends and lovers who were polyamorous, who were being discriminated against: only one partner is being invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the family, or there is no legal three-way marriage. I know long-term triads that are going very well, but we have to settle for one person being our primary because that’s what the law will recognize, and the other person not. There were different political issues that came up, and I just observed that injustice and then in my teaching, in my life coaching, more and more people who were attracted to me, who were people who said, "You seem to be working this out in your life. Can you help us? How do I initiate a threesome?" Anything from the very beginning level to, "I want to divorce my husband, because I don’t believe in the convention of marriage, and I want to re-establish a relationship with him and multiple lovers. How do I open that conversation, or save my marriage by doing that?" Thus, my career path took a whole new direction. I began to speak freely and frankly about what Michael and I have learned in the many years of trial and error. These talks eventually evolved into the spiritual poly group with over 100 people going 3 years strong and regular poly playshops this work put me on the radar for media attention. I kept getting calls from national media sources like the Tyra Banks Show and The Morning Show in New York. Then there was a British program that did an hour-long documentary on my lifestyle and the coaching that I do. All of this international attention was fun. They flew me to Germany to look at what a polyamorous community looks like in ZEGG, which is close to Berlin, so I got this broader perspective on the state of polyamory around the world, and understood that there really aren’t spokespeople and role models.
Ironically, when I was invited to polyamory at NYC. They have a "Poly Pride" in New York, and that’s a big new movement that models itself to some degree after Gay Pride, but also has been influenced by other movments. I remember thinking, "No thanks, I don’t really want to wave a flag around. This is me and who I am as polyamorous, because I just have much acceptance, but that’s just how I am." I really felt like a lot of my early Gay activism had come from a place of non-acceptance. People didn’t accept me, so I had to be "out and proud" until they totally accepted me.
A lot of polyamorous individuals are struggling with trying to chart their own course. They’re blazing their own trails, but they’re re-inventing wheels and they’re making a lot of the same mistakes that, if there really, truly was more leadership and more resources, they wouldn’t have to go through a lot of that. So I feel like I basically stepped into — or I got pulled into — teaching polyamory, which is something I never set out to do. And right now, I’d say a good 50 percent or more, maybe 50 to 70 percent of the work I’m doing, is coaching polyamorous individuals and writing or teaching workshops in that realm.
To Be Continued...

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