Breakfast and gifts?

Last week was a rough one for me.  With the whole V day celebrations galore on social media.  I am not a big “Let’s celebrate the romanticization of religious persecution and intolerance”  person.   But after 20 years of giving gifts to a person and receiving something in return as a token of attachment, care, and love…not having that really hurt. I didn’t even realize it until about Thursday.

So, she and I talked about it and decided that we each still wanted to honor each other and our shared experience by doing something.  She offered,  coffee and gifts on the Saturday following Valentine’s.  This sounded like a good idea to me and I agreed.  Well,  it turned into breakfast at WH,  running a few errands, and spending some time together, as friends.

At breakfast she pulled out a big red bag,  and handed it to me.  It was full of chocolates with corny, hokey, dad jokes on the boxes . (If you don’t know me,  I never pass on a good dad joke,  they just seem to happen.)  And a stuffed animal.  It was a really soft fox and it had a box on it that was also full of chocolates  it read, “You are one Smart Fox”.  This she said was to acknowledge my intelligence,  which I never seem to give myself credit for.

I hadn’t gotten her gift yet.  The week was very busy and while I had planned to do it… the chance never came up.  SO.. We went to the store to grab a few other things and that was my chance!  Off to the Valentine’s clearance aisle.  (Because I am a cheap ass, and half price chocolates exist)   I searched and searched until I found it.  A floppy armed and legged , blue monkey.  Grabbed a couple other little things and her favorite cookie,  Double stuffed Oreos. Now gotta find the perfect bag… It was almost like shopping for a new partner… I had to put real thought (OMG no way!!!)  into what she would think was fun, and what she may like.   In contrast to the years of, following the script of roses and chocolates, this was a welcomed feeling, and also kinda scary.  I found a rainbow unicorn bag…”that’s the one”, I thought..  And grabbed it.

About that time my phone rang… She was calling me to ask if I was ready to go.   I answered,  ”  You are 2 aisles over aren’t you?” (SHe could hear my ringer)  She asked.  “Yep.  You ready? ”  I replied.  “Yea,  are you?”  She asked…  “Almost…. I will meet you at the checkout.”  I got in line and turned around… she was standing 2 people behind me… and we started joking….
“Don’t look.. you can’t see this pile of stuff that isn’t for you” I joked .  (Granted there were no other lines open so it wasn’t like she was trying to spy her gift.)  “Fine then I’ll stare this way”  She snarked.  She always had a good snark.

I checked out and we headed home.  I gave her her bag and she was ecstatic. She really appreciated everything I had gotten her.  We hugged and thanked each other for the time  we each offered to share and we went about our days doing things with our other partners.  For those few hours we had intentionally chosen to spend together , it was a good time.

I still have a deep level of connection to her.  And, after this experience, I feel that she does to me…I hope this was the first of many healing interactions we will have that can lead us to a renewed friendship.

Healing takes time.  Thanks for being a part of my day.

No more “WE”

Folks, It has been too long and I’ve been too quiet. I have been withholding a lot of stuff out of the fear that someone else may be hurt by what I have to say. I don’t intend to harm anyone. But I really don’t have a good outlet for what I am going through other than this blog.

This withholding of information goes directly against my personal and ethical belief of transparency and honesty at all times, but especially in times of hardship and struggle. We like to share the good with our friends, neighbors, and followers, but all to often we hide the not so good out of fears. Sometimes that fear is shame of the situation, other times we are coerced by fear to protect someone else’s feelings. Neither of these are ok in my system. Allowing this to happen undermines my own value system and causes greater problems for me than just owning the crap that is going on in my life.

Don’t hear me wrong however, my intention is not to deliberately cast shade to another person. I truly am going through some stuff and I feel I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. And hey, random internet people have probably been through this or a similar situation and may be able to offer me support, answers to any questions I have, or even just an ear to listen.

My struggle.

Like about 50% of the American population I am currently in the midst of a Divorce. Yep we are at “separation level”.  Many of you may have already known this from previous posts I made. But there it is. I know many of you may be saying ‘ Eh it’s a divorce, what’s the problem, these happen all the time’ .

The act of separation and divorce isn’t really the problem. I am logical in accepting in the descision that we agreed to. We both have grown in different ways. We still care about each other and love each other in a way that I can’t explain. We are co-parenting our child in the same house with our existing partners… Like nothing has *really* changed, except for our joint identity.

Well, recently it has become evident to me that being married to this one person for half of my life has given me an identity that I now have to separate from. Not only the person that is leaving this part of my life, but now I have to lose a part of myself that I have had for this long. That’s deep stuff right there.

Attempting to accept this separation of the relationship and separation with self identities is where I am currently struggling. The joy she shares with other used to be the joy WE shared with others. The trips to visit friends , used to be OUR trips. The things she does alone , are all things WE did together. But now I find I am home alone when she goes to do these things.

For some things, it is my choice not to be there, for others it’s not even asked if I would like to go. I miss the US things. Those things WE did. I find myself having a real hard time accepting that WE don’t exist as a concept or construct anymore. ANd I think it’s more the latter…. a construct.

This seems to be the biggest point. Society puts so much value on a person based on their relationship status. Society is hierarchical in treatment, acceptance, and value based solely on what your marital or relationship status is. The more “committed you are” the more ” accepted you are” and this is where I have a great deal of problems with societal relationship scripts.

Everyone has value. Every, single, individual person has value . Once more for those in the back, EVERYONE; EVERY, SINGLE, INDIVIDUAL, HUMAN BEING, HAS VALUE. We have placed so much on the value of people as a unit and ability to provide offspring, and contribute to society as a couple , that I think we are losing that individuality that make relationships so wonderful the people in them.

My first struggle is losing that “couple identity” that I had with this person for half my life. I don’t know how to be single. I never was. Part of me is wondering what I missed out on as a single person.  I wonder where I may be and who I may have become had I not gone the way I did.  Not with regret,  but curiosity.  I am very happy with my choices and the person I have become.   Including the ones that have lead me to this blog post.

Secondly, we developed an identity with another person as a triad.  We all formed a relationship with interpersonal feelings and connections.  I am losing that as well.  As the other members of the triad are continuing their relationships on without me in that.  And there is likely some envy of that deep down inside somewhere.  But I do not at all have bad feelings for them. Infact, I wish them great happiness together.  They are very happy together.

My current live in partner, and also fiance’, and I are very intentional and direct. The two of us discuss things and make plans based on how each of us want to live as individuals. Not as “we” want to live as a couple. Each of us are building support for our individual needs and the needs of our relationship. These needs may be and often are separate things . As individuals our needs are not the same thing as the needs of the relationship, and that is an important part of it. Knowing what the individual needs are so the relationship can flourish. This was not the case with my previous relationship that is now ending. In the previous each of us took a LOT for granted and assumptions were made based on a lot of societal scripts.

We started our relationship with the ideals of individual first, including the right to self-determination, self-autonomy, and non-hierarchy. We hold transparency, respect and honesty in high regard. And through conversation,  neither of us have indicated that we would like that to change anytime soon.  It is definitely challenging but also very rewarding.  And this is much more inline with my value system than the other relationships I have had.

My identity crisis, as I am calling it now, means that I have to unlearn all this behavioral crap and societal scripting that was built up over 20 years of being with this same person and learning how to relate to them in a totally different way. WHILE at the same time, unlearn what it was to be a triad and what this means for my Polyamorous identity.

I need to learn to let go of that “us” and accept that she is she and I am me. And that they are they and I am me.  Each of us is an individual with feelings, and ability to move through this emotional rollercoaster in different ways and as much as it hurts,  and as nice as we are to one another…
at least for the foreseeable future, there is no more WE, as there was.

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Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Recap.

WARNING This Post may contain links that may take the reader to adult themed websites.  We discuss sex, sexual freedom and personal sexual expression in this post.  NO sexual images or content are hosted on this site or this post.  LINKS NSFW with exceptions.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way……

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was amazing, exciting, and informative.  I must say, one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many.  I have to stop and say though if it were not for Tantus I would not have been able to attend.  They hosted a scholarship for admission via a Twitter contest.  I entered and happened to win!  Thanks TANTUS!  I owe all this to you!
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Now,Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (SFS from now on), is held in Virginia by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. ” The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.  This Summit is for EVERYONE interested in learning about the issues in the realm of sexual freedom, advancing their current knowledge and in gaining the tools to actually create the change we need to accomplish.” And advance my knowledge they did.
Woodhull's Sexual Freedom Summit

Friday I arrived in time for the lunch break and I got to catch up with friends I had not seen in some time.  Of course I did some networking with new folks and made connections that will hopefully bring new and exciting opportunities for all of us in the community.  (More on that another time.)  It became apparent quickly that I was a little fish in a new, large, expansive ocean.  Most of the people I was meeting had LOTS of letters and titles behind their names.  I became pretty aware that I was in a new class of conference.  None the less, I was treated fairly, and on par with everyone. At no point did anyone talk down or act as if they were “dumbing-down” the content or conversation for me.  It was ok to stop them and ask to have something explained or expanded in detail to make sure I understood it.

As the classes got started for the afternoon session, I was torn on what to go to. There were so many exciting classes it was difficult to choose.  Finally I settled on Sex, Laws & Videos: Legal Updates from Woodhull’s Free Speech Advocates (#SFSLegal)
Presented by: Luke Lirot, Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.  This class was not all legalese and lawyer speak.  It was a real world look at how the current laws are affecting sex work and sexuality across the US and where the laws are heading.   I’ll be doing a recap blog post of each of the classes I participated in (with exception of one). This class had lots of great insights into the current state of laws and sex.

Next I went to the Friday Keynote.  Keynote: From Slacktivism to Meaningful Action: Using Tech to Fight for Freedom Presented by: Aida Manduley, MSW, Trina Scott, Cindy Lee Alves .  This was by far one of the best keynotes I have even been to. This group of women from the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network presented this in a way that made me think, made me uncomfortable (in a good way) made me open my mind to view things differently, and then made me cry with the empowerment of a people. This was inspiring and incredibly powerful.   Thank you WOCSHN!

After the Keynote it was dinner and social time mostly.  There was a carnival themed dance and entertainment, but after being awake since 4AM for my flight, I was in no shape to stay up and party.  I crashed out at about 10:30.

Up early in the AM on Saturday for a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.  It was a run day and there’s no cheating on run day, even if I’m traveling. So up,  run, and grab some breakfast before the first set of classes.   Breakfast was provided by one of the sponsors,

First class of the day, It’s Different for Men: Masculine Victims of Sexual Assault (#SFSAssault) Presented by: Sebastian Sprague M.Ed..  This is the class that I will not be posting a blog entry / review on other than what I say here.  We discussed the effects and causes of sexual assault on men.  Men as victims and why most men don’t come forward to report abuse and assault. Patriarchy, misogyny, and macho-ism.   Systems that harm women, also harm men.   This was a very good class and discussion . We asked that the specifics of our time together be kept confidential.  However personal statement will not be included.  Not even my own.   I did take some photos of the presentation which we were told we could share so I may post those with a bit longer description. This class set the tone for my Saturday however, exploring uncomfortable topics.

A short coffee break, sponsored by Chaturbate.  and then back to the learning and brain work.

 

Decolonizing Sex Positivity – Re-thinking Inclusivity (#SFSInclusive)
Presented by: Sonalee Rashatwar, Nafeesa Dawoodbhoy .  This was  a very interesting introspective class that really left me thinking about all the ways we colonize things in our lives.  It challenged the thought that things are like my experience everywhere.  That just because I see the world like X doesn’t make it so. And in order to be truly accepting and inclusive we must accept that another’s view of the world is not only different, but also equally valid as our own, at times even more so.  I have said it in classes about other things but its the idea that Different is no more right or wrong, it is only different.  Of course there is a lot more to it … and Ill expand in my post about this class.

This brings us to the Lunch break that was catered by the hotel and provided by the conference. I could not believe that the day was already half over.  As I joined everyone for the Vicki Recipients’ Roundtable Luncheon Presented by: Carmen Vazquez, Scout, Kenyon Farrow, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot, Megan Andelloux, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Yea, its a round table and the award recipients will most likely speak that part I got. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of impact that these award winning social justice warriors have had on the community over all and specifically in their areas of work.  Remember I am a little fish in a big new ocean.  I’m used to local level organizers.  This is where it began to strike me just why I was here.  More about this epiphany in my detail Round-table post.

After the round-table I was in brain overload.  I had so many concepts and thoughts sparked alive that morning, I needed a break.  so I wandered around, played a little Pokemon Go, went to my room and vegged out.  A nice, much needed break.

As the next round of classes was getting ready to begin, I felt a lot better and decided to head back down to participate some more.

The class selection was again challenging, but I saw one that looked very interesting.
Just Don’t Talk About It: The Current State of Men’s Sexual Health, Expression, and Exploration in the United States (#SFSMen) Presented by: David Mandell, Dr. Andrew Siegel, Paul R. Nelson, CCMA, Robert Heasley, PhD, LMFT, Leo Donato . These men and the way that they talked about mens health, they engaged and questioned beliefs and explained issues in a way that was, beautiful.  These men were well educated on their topic, they have good resources and sparked a lot of conversation.  My biggest take away from this class can be found here on my twitter. “When educated about sex from porn you aren’t learning how to have sex.” Men learn how to fuck.  But not how to have meaningful, loving sexual intimacy. More in my SFSMen Post coming soon!

After SFS Men it was again dinner time.  The day was almost over.  Other than the nighttime entertainment and dance later on there wasn’t much more to be done.  I wandered here and there caught up with some new friends, watched some of the Olympics, talked about relationships, ate cheese and bacon fries at the bar…  it was a good time.   I decided to head up to the room and pack my bags.  My 615 Flight meant I once again had to be ready to go at 4AM to the Airport.  Sheesh, will I never learn?  LOL  But I digress….

The evening party time was more award presentations and acceptance speeches from activists.  One of whom made a remark that was so impcatful on me it it is still ringing in my ears today…  “Bisexual erasure by the LGBTQ community isn’t even a microaggression- it’s a macroaggression. Why are there still LGBT organizations that are run only by L or G people? Why aren’t there bisexuals at the helm too?” –@Scoutout   Scout’s story is amazing as well.  But he makes a good point…..

I headed to bed about 10:30, settled in and had everything ready to go , set the alarm.  As I lay down, my brain starts processing everything I have taken in this weekend.  ALL AT ONCE!  I am racing with ideas, topics for discussion, new classes, blog posts… DAMMIT BRAIN SILENCE   I must sleep…  11 comes and goes, still wrenching my brain as it hits a new idea.  11:30… then 11:45.  I am finally able to stop it and that’s when it hits me like a ton of bricks.  You are here to experience the next level of activism.  You are here to see what a national organization can do to affect change, and support different communities while promoting a single root cause.  You are here to be inspired.

Not a day has gone by yet where I have not done something related to my experience at SFS.  Be it a blog post., Facebook outreach, building new workshops in other cities, reaching for our brand, starting new recognition programs, or just a thoughtful conversation about sexuality as a human right. SFS16 lit a fire under me and in me that I hope isn’t extinguished, ever.

I am again very thankful for the opportunity provided to me by TANTUS for the Membership and by Relationship Equality Foundation for paying my travel expenses. Thank you to the amazing presenters, speakers, moderators that lend their knowledge to this conference.  Thank you to the Organizers, staff and board of WoodHull.  This was a life changing experience.
If you would like to support more individuals having these types experiences, perhaps even yourself, then I highly recommend joining REF as a supporting member today.
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Hard Polyamorous Truths-REBLOG

This is a very well done and thought out piece. I am really glad someone had the time to put somethign like this together! Thank you MusicalRose13 for your thoughts on this!

Our Better Natures

You may be thinking about trying polyamory for the first time, or you may have already started. Below are a few observations from a fellow traveler about some of the hurdles that must be crossed if one wants to keep at it. As you will see, I don’t think they mean people should avoid polyamory, but I think it is good to know and understand the risks you are taking on some level before you jump in. Some people aren’t ready for these challenges. Those people are going to struggle a lot harder with polyamory than others. Some people aren’t ready, but then rise to the occasion when the obstacle presents itself. Those people are the ones that can use polyamory for something positive. Actually, no one is really ready, but the willingness to grow, change, and keep moving, even if you are moving at a snail’s pace, is what…

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Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 by the Numbers

Atlanta Poly Weekend was held a few weeks ago. A great time was had by all. Many new faces, lots of returning friends.
I was grateful to be included not only as a staff member this year but additionally as a presenter. 2 gave solo classes, 1 joint class and was on a panel discussion.
I gave a class on the struggles that we can face in hierarchy set relationships and how to navigate around them as well as strategies for avoiding them all together. My second class was abut coming out. Who, why, what, and when.
Both classes were well attended and I had a very fun and open group of people that shared a lot of experiences.

The joint class I gave was with co creator Rose Hagalaz. She and I had an idea for a discussion about the generational gap in the greater non-monogamy movement and what the driving force behind it is. We came away with a great deal of input, knowledge and some reassuring of our own thoughts. But the biggest point that we made and others agreed with was that we should be working to unite the different relationship styles, discuss our commonalities and where we can work together. Not pushing each other away because we have different philosophies.

My panel discussion on the Poly in the Media with Co-panelists, Tikva Wolf and Joreth, was really big. It had a great turn out (about 20 folks) and we had a wonderful time discussing and chatting different media coverage. How to protect ones self in the media, and from the media. We all shared experiences and watched a few videos to compare how the media can spin your story.

My Coming out class was the best one yet.  I say that every time but really, it gets better each and every time I give it.  This particular time after the class I had a person come up and discuss with me the desire to come out to her children as she no longer wants to hide her true self from them.  This was a great moment in my teaching times… I inspired a person to take a leap and act on something I had taught. And thats all it takes for me, is if one person walks away with one thing that I said and it inspires them to do one thing in their life that helps them my class was a success.  I will soon be making a list of techniques for coming out to folks but in the mean time should anyone need help talking to a loved one,  there is a book out now called “When Someone you love is Polyamorous.”  Its a fairly basic info book to give to them or read with them so they can have a better understanding and develop questions.

My other class was “There is no Winning in Polyamory” I may tweak the title of this one as it evolves.  It was an early morning class and was only attended by a handful of folks.  We did get to discuss the topic in a free form manner and bounce ideas around about what hierarchy is, how it is sometimes done in an unethical manner and how to avoid that. We concluded that relationships are more positive and healthy when they are  prescriptive rather than descriptive.  Descriptive relationships take away the agency of the individuals and allow for social scripting and expectations to drive the relationships.  Prescriptive relationships give the individuals the power and information they need to build the relationship together, making it more fulfilling for them.  Just a thought.

Other happenings at APW 2016:  The hotel was new.  A last minuet sale by the previous property management group forced the directors to find a new venue with only 45 days remaining in their  prep time.  KUDOS to the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown for working with the directors and assisting with hosting their wonderful event on such short notice.  If you haven’t been this hotel is beautiful. Its all been recently renovated and it really is a nice hotel.
By the numbers APW 2016 looked like this:
Total Attendees- 226 (thats up in attendance from last year by 34 people I think. )
Presenters: 30, Staff: 15,Merchants: 7,Volunteers: 2,Sponsors: 2,Community Organizations: 10, Hotel Room Nights 101, Hospitality suites 2.

Atlanta Poly Weekend again supported Lost N Found Youth of Atlanta with a charity auction.   Relationship Equality Foundation, APW host organization,  Matched the first $1000.00 and a total donation of over $2400.00 was made to the organization.

Next years dates have been announced along with a brand new website design for Atlanta Poly Weekend June 2-4, 2017 Again will be hosted at the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown.  Current registration is $50.00 for adults.  Pricing will increase to $75.00 as the event gets closer. Make sure you get your tickets soon!  I hope to see you there in 2017!

Then it hit me.

All this time I kept saying to myself, “I’m just an ally stay out of it give them space” ” Support their message.” “Give way and let their voices be raised louder than any other. ”
See as a fairly hetero-normative presenting person, it was easy for me to not see the problem here. For most of my life, I have been fairly open about who I am to certain people, circles of friends and communities that I feel safe in. Because even with all my privileges and status in society, I am still afraid of rejection and harm.
I have stayed silent.
But I cant anymore. In a conversation with a FB friend I was brought to tears by my own sexuality and self shame. I am a queer person. I am a Poly, Kinky, Bisexual man who loves openly and honestly.
I have been seething for days. I have felt rage building, depression filling in, I haven’t wanted to leave the house, I have been very combative on Facebook about various different issues I feel are important. but I have always given way to the voice of the persons i saw more closely affected to this than I was.
Then it hit me……I present so hetero normative that my rage in this whole unbelievably horrific act against the community is silenced by both sides. I feel ignored and shut down. It sucks. I feel that If I say anything I’m “tone policing” I’m telling people to “Be nice”. I’m so sick of shutting myself out of the conversation because I am a male, hetero-normative presenting person. I dont belong. I cant be a member of the community of Straight people , cause Im not. I cant be a queer person cause I “look too straight” Im alone and it sucks.
In that conversation on Facebook, my friend recognized me as part of the community. I lost it. In tears I am still emotional about it now. For once, someone outside of my immediate community, a person of the queer community that I respect, a person who has helped me grow and evolve my thinking broke down a wall. Thank you A.

I am Queer. I am a Bisexual, Poly, Kinky, Guy. My voice is important too. And if to no one else, it is important to me. And maybe some of you already knew this.  But I have to say it.  I have to accept this identity and be open about it.  I cannot stay scared safe anymore.

I was allowing my own erasure from society by staying in the closet. I never really came out of it.  I just added on.  It was small but then I found others like me and to stay safe,  I only knocked out the back wall and added room to the closet.    I was only allowing what I wanted others to see be shown.  What was safe.  Fuck Safe.   In the words of one of my childhood heroes,  “I YAM what I YAM! “