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!
Tantus

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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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!

Catching up- You Me Her.

Hiya folks,

First, let me apologize for my absence.  Life has been pretty busy the last few weeks.  I am preparing to take and pass the CAPM exam this Friday.  Additionally,  Atlanta Poly Weekend is right around the corner and its all hands on deck planning team for that.  Also I have a family that wants to see  me and I need some me time every now and then.

Speaking of ME time looks like that’s what Izzy is going to be doing ….

So recapping quickly if you aren’t current,  Izzy went to Jack and Emma’s to try and patch things up from the whole bit where she scared the crap out of them emotionally.   ANd ends up doing it again.

Izzy,  who is truly head over heals in NRE with Jack and Emma,  is exhibiting classic NRE behavior or reading a lot into what’s happening, moving with emotions and not thinking through her actions.  And Jack and Emma,  being more seasoned in the long term relationship application of principles, seem to be moving with a fun and logical approach (in their eyes) to the decisions,  EVEN though those decisions do not take Izzy’s feelings into account. They don’t see that.  Until it’s too late and Izzy is hurt. They are confused.  And everything is upside down again.   This is where/how it becomes problematic in Poly relationships.  I think the show gets this right.

Izzy has been hurt a few times in quick succession and is scared that she is making huge mistakes that will end up ruining her life.  What’s a person to do?  Go Home.  Yep back to the safety of Mom and look for the guidance that was there as a child.   I understand this response.  There were many times in early poly days I wished I could run away from it all and find wisdom…..  But I didn’t have anywhere to run.  Izzy at least has a safe harbor to return to, clear her head, and then decide if this really is something she wants to pursue.

This show really highlights a phenomenon that happens a lot in the Poly community.  Where a couple has one set of expectations and a 3rd person comes in and has a different set of expectations. ANd the couple is looking out for the couple’s best interest (jobs, community standing, peer acceptance, etc)  and the 3rd individual just wants to be a part of something that they feel is really satisfying. In real life it isn’t always as fast a 7 days like it is in the show, although I have seen it move that quickly.

There is a lot of growth from this in the poly community as of late .  The focus is moving from couple centric thinking and practice to  an individuals right to choose what is best for themself.  In doing so it is really helping to circumvent some of the problems that come into poly relationships with regard to hierarchy and power exchange.

I kinda wish they had more time to put into the show to highlight the resolutions styles that the people are using.  But hey its a first season sitcom,  what can I expect.  A LOT more communication takes place than what they are able to show in the time they have allowed.  And sometimes, its not as pretty as TV would depict it.  Don’t get me wrong, this show isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs, however,  conversations go more like “The Morning After” a lot more frequently than one would think.  ESPECIALLY early in the relationship building period.

I want to bring to light one thing that I haven’t touched on yet… Jack and Emma,  they still have the same problem they had before Izzy came into the picture.   Granted they are having sex,  but they didn’t do anything to FIX that problem… All they did was introduce a distraction from that problem.  ANd that is how they are treating Izzy as well, as a distracting, treatment for an underlying issue that they both are contributing to.  Polyamory, is NOT a cure for a hurting relationship.  I think Jack and Emma have some personal issues that they need to work on before they can be individually healthy enough to move into a full Poly relationship.  Jack is insecure and unsure of himself,  Emma feels alone and without support from her partner of many years.
IN MY OPINION.  Relationship problems = People Problems.  I don’t care what kind of relationship one is in….. If it has issues, problems or isn’t working the way it was when you started,  and nothing has changed,  may want to take a deeper look into ones self,  chances are you will find where that change occurred inside.

Only one episode is left in this season and we haven’t heard if there will be a second season or not.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it.  its going to really sum up my whole thought process on this show.  Up to this point I really think the show has done a fairly accurate representation of how ONE style of Polyamory is initiated.  Something to remember is that there is no one true way for polyamory.  There isnt a cookie cutter design.  Polyamory is best practiced as individuals making connections with other individuals.  Even if those individuals are in other coupled or non coupled relationships.

Thanks to John Scott Shepherd  for putting together a great show. And also for mentioning my reviews in an interview.  I am happy to provide feedback and glad you like what you are hearing.  Also thank to the YOU ME Her Social media team for engaging with us on twitter and facebook.  I look forward to getting my umbrella soon!   I wish there was more time to get you all to come to Atlanta Poly Weekend this year.

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 ( Preview)

Well, its that time of year again.  In just 2 weeks Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 will be taking over its new hotel home.  Yep , if you hadn’t heard they are moving to a new venue this year.  The new home for #APW2016 is the Sheraton Downtown Atlanta ! APW is excited for this move as it indicates growth, change, and expansion.

Along with the new hotel,  lots of other new things are happening this year, the most presenters they have ever had, 30 as well as, the most new presenters they have ever had, 18!  That’s over 50% NEW FACES teaching classes.  But of course they brought back your favorites from previous years. Some of the presenters listed include, Tikva Wolf (Kimchi Cuddles) Dr. Eli Sheff, Joreth, Bettie Bullet, Amanda Anatra, Ricci Levy, and  myself.
Classes this year have been extended to 1 hour 30 minuets, so plan accordingly. They will have a 15 minuet break between classes that should help with restroom times and stretching the legs.

New events happening this year include a Pool Party (pack your swim suit) in place of a dance.  Organizers have said the dance has been poorly attended in years past so they wanted to try something new.  The Pool party will be on Friday Night from 7-10Pm.  Make sure you are there for all the fun! Also this year brings back the loved game of Match Game against Humanity.   This  is a mash-up of the traditional Match Game, and CAH, where the staff choose the Black cards out of a deck of CAH for the questions,  and the panelists answer with their own made up white card answers. It is a lot of fun.  Not one for the kiddos though.

Classes look really interesting this year, as usual.  APW really prides itself on not only the amount of classes they offer, but the quality as well.  With classes ranging on topic feom Asexuality, to Yoga, to communication and coming out,  you name it I think they have it covered.  With this year a night time Adult track of topics restricted to 18+ years old.  See the full line up and descriptions here .

In addition to all the new programming that APW has this year, never before have this many community organizations been represented at APW.  over 12 different organizations have come out already to support this wonderful event.  They include, Relationship Equality Foundation, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, NCSF, Atlanta Poly, AID Atlanta, Lost n Found Youth, Relate Con, and several more.  Its amazing to see this much support for the event that started so humbly 6 years ago in the basement of  a hotel.

With all this awesome going on, I ask you will I see you there?  If you have not already bought your tickets,  go now and get them HERE Badges are only $60.00 per adult. Meet some of the best presenters, activist and advocates in the Poly Community,  learn skills and expand your minds view on different topics, make new friends,  but most importantly, have a good time.
Ill see you June 3-5 2016 at Atlanta Poly Weekend!

Leadership, Education, and how we are seen.

Had a few thoughts today on Polyamory leadership, teaching, and the way educators are viewed by those who they teach. As well as a nugget of thought I have been mulling around. And this probably applies to many areas of instruction, however, since I am a poly educator, I will stick to my own yard.

1> Poly educators have it all figured out and don’t make mistakes.They have perfect poly lives.  And all the answers. 
In reality, We make as many mistakes as others or already have made the mistakes we are teaching about. We teach the lessons we learned to hopefully give others the foresight to avoid it or at least see it coming and how to navigate through it. We aren’t Preventative Maintenance technicians.

2> Poly leaders / educators are sometimes seen as “Great wise people on the mountain”.
In reality, we are normal folks, we have not been gifted this great knowledge from on high. Most, if not all, of what we know we lived. We screwed up, and we learned from it. Knowledge is knowing what you did, Wisdom is not repeating the mistake. Some of us have a greater desire to learn new and challenging concepts.  Others just wing it.  Some of us read all the books as they come out, others of us just try to live our live as authentically as we can.  There are many guides to poly/ non-monogamy,  but there is no one true way to get it right.  But there are lots of really easy ways to screw it up.

3 Poly problems = (typically) People Problems. Many times I hear people say… ” Poly didnt work out for me because I/they was/were too jealous”
Here’s the deal, If a person has people problems, (Here is the really important part) AND THEY DONT ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORK ON BEING A BETTER PERSON> they will have a much harder time in not only Poly relationships, but also mono and non romantic relationships in general.
My poly life got better when I addressed the issues I was facing internally.

Finally I want to close with a word of advice for those who may be looking at going to classes….  If you haven’t ever heard of the person presenting , do your homework on them.  Look them up on the web, ask other poly people if they have heard of them.  There are more and more people getting into teaching classes as ” experts”  Im not an Expert on polyamory.  Dont claim to be.  People have called me one, but I am not.   An expert is someone who knows everything about a particular topic/subject.  I dont believe such a thing can exist in polyamory.  There are too many styles of relationships.

Thanks for all the new Follows!

Just a quick thanks to all the new followers.

Disclaimer …. My grammer is not always the best.  My Ideas may be a bit unconventional at times. Sometimes I go a while between posts because… Life happens. Also the things I post about are based on my personal experiences.  My solution may not work for you.  If you find another way to do something, feel free to share it in the comments.  Someone else may benefit  from it.

I do hope you enjoy what you read here and that at least one person can learn one thing form my ramblings.  If so then this is a success.

Check out my appearence page for where I will be and How to get me to come to your town.

Thanks for the support.

Beyond the Love- One of the best cons -EVAR!!!

This past weekend I had the honor to be a presenter at one of the country’s newest polyamory conferences, Beyond the Love Polyamory Summit.  Hosted in Columbus Ohio by Dawn, Dank and Karen (DD&K) and the Columbus Poly community.  This event was scheduled as a 2 day 3 night event.  It had a strong line up of presenters and educators from around the country.  From new presenters like myself to some of the most recognizable names in education Sarah Sloane, Master So’N’So, and others.

BTL FB Banner

Registration began on Friday afternoon.  Lindsey and I had driven for 2 days to get here and were couldnt wait to get checked in. We had arrived early so we went to get some lunch at a nearby restaurant.  There were a lot of options very close by.  Registration opened at 4pm and we got checked in. We got our ggoodiebags for attending, and I got a cool thank you bag for being a presenter.  It was full of small things but it was a nice thank you, unexpected, and thoughtful. The I was offered a “dot” Green, Yellow, or Red.  These were indicator dots as to the level of flirtation you were open to. Green was “Open to flirtatious conversation” Yellow, “Ask before flirting”  Red “No Flirting please”.  I felt this was a great way to passively express our individual level of openess.  I had 4 Green dots for the record.

Shortly after getting checked in we wandered around into the merchant room, and found all the classrooms. Easily enough everything was together and labeled plainly to find. In our wanderings, we came to our first class. A Poly Primer 101 class by PolyAnna and partner.  It was very informative , even from an experienced poly person. Never forget the basics and always learn something. They discussed terminology and structure as well as common early pitfalls to watch out for.  Then came the group discussion where Poly Bucks were handed out to attendees for participation.

Poly Bucks?  Yes they were a sort of fake money that wasn’t worth anything but it was fun to have an incentive to use to encourage class participation. Later in the weekend one could use their poly bucks to ” rent a presenter ” for a 15 min 1 on 1 exclusive time.  More about that later.

After the first class I experienced the coolest mixer meet and greet game ever. It was a poly scavenger hunt.  The object, find people and ask them questions from the list of things like, ” Someone in a Poly relationship over 15 years”, Someone who traveled over 100 Miles to get here”, Someone who has been to Mardi Gras”.  Once found, you wrote the name of the person on your paper next to that item.  This was a lot of fun as it sparked conversation and got the name exchange going. This was huge.  We (APW2015) will be doing something very similar in JUNE).

From here we went to the 5 love languages mixer. Led by Boi Kris, an energetic and fun host, we went through a 20 question quiz and answered questions from the 5 Love languages. Once complete we were sorted into groups of our primary love language, seated in long rows (almost 100 people took part in this activity) . The al-a Speed Dating style we rotated chair to chair chatting with the person across from us.  Gender didnt matter,  it was a get to know you session, not a hook up event.  I really liked the no pressure atmosphere. It did get a little loud and there was initially a little confusion but Boi Kris sorted us out and kept us moving.  WHAT A BLAST!  The night wound down and we were getting tired after 2 days on the road. We turned in somewhat early, Knowing I had a class to teach in the AM.

Saturday started out stronger than Friday finished, which I thought was very impressive.  With Yoga at 8am and then classes beginning promptly at 9.  Pastries and coffee were supplied for a morning snack. One of the main things that stood out to me was how punctual everything was. There was no “Con standard time” An event went on on time and ended on time, EVERYTIME. This is hard to ensure at a convention.  The organizers and staff did a great job ensuring that this happened.  Kudos!

My class was at 10:30am.  Coming out poly was the topic and I had a great turn out .  A lively bunch of engaged participants made the class more fun for me as well.  Lots of people were live tweeting  the class highlights can be found on the twitter #comingoutpoly  #BTL2014 A few of my favorite bits,  People will react to your by taking your cues; make it a big deal then it will be.  There is a natural opportunity for cooperation between the and the lgbt community. (benefit of) @btl2014 .  “the more secrets you have, the more other people can hurt you with them.” –  . Lindsey being in the class was a HUGE help because she got to share her stories about coming out when partnered to a national Polyamory figure.  Being in the media kinda requires being out.  Overall this was a great class not just for the attendees but also for me.

Later I went to the Leadership and Activism panel moderated by Alan of Poly In the News.  This was a great chance for new and experienced community organizers to come together and discuss the current trends and where we should go from here. What are we missing? Who are we missing?  ANd it was obvious by looking around the room that the greater poly community is underrepresented in the People of Color community. We all agreed that more needs to be done to reach out to this group of people and see what we can learn .  This community cannot move forward with out ALL the people in it working together.  Phone calls were made with in the hour and connections were begun. Hopefully we as one side of the community can reach out to the other sides of the community and work together to build a greater community.

After that panel was over it was time to break for lunch.  We went out to a nearby restaurant with a newly made friend.  We enjoyed laughs and conversation and decided we would use the coloring pad they gave us as an opportunity to fill a Flirt mail. 🙂  We returned to the conference bellies full and brains ready to go.

I attended the panel Navigating our Differences led by the amazing Sarah Slone. This was a fantastic open discussion about the ways we communicate to our partners and what we can do better to accept our differences and still grow as a relationship.  I was live tweeting this one.  Highlights include “If you do not ask you will not get. navigating Differences in relationships.. Determine needs vs wants for EACH realtionship independent.  .. Our success is not dependent on the other people in our relationships.  Using nonviolent communication is a great way to discuss differences in relationships Example… when ________ , I feel _________. … Shorter is better when discussing differences,.  Overall this was my favorite class.

The afternoon was spent socializing and making connections with new people and community organizers from across the country. This was facilitated by the organizers putting tables in open pre function space to invite people to sit talk and relax if they didn’t want to go to any of the classes or who needed a break.   This was brilliant!  Again great job to the organizers on this one.

As the afternoon came close, we remembered we needed to change for the Masquerade Ball and that we had a dinner to attend.  So we excused ourselves and went upstairs to change and get ready for the evening events.

The dinner that the organizers planned for the guests and their partners as well as VIPs and Sponsors was simply amazing.  What a great way to say thank you to the presenters.  It also gave us an opportunity to sit with other presenters and discuss classes, life and organizing in a private setting.  It truly was a positive experience.

The Masquerade Ball was a lot of fun. they had wonderful decorations and some pretty good music too.  Which for a con dance sometimes that’s iffy, however the DJ did a good job.  In addition to the dance , music and decorations, they had a Prom Photographer there who took everyones photo and emailed them to us for purchase.  It was a great way to create a memorable moment of the weekend with all of ones partners if they were there.  Something you don’t normally get to do in general society.  The night went on after a bit we left the dance and sat in on a game of Cards against humanity.  This is a really fun game to play and even more so with strangers.  If you haven’t played CAH then ill let you google it.  Its basically Apple to Apples for Adults.  We played for an hour or two then went back to the dance to socialize some more.  But as the Clock struck 1am the dance was closed and we all had to find somewhere/one else to party with.    (it was a pre arranged time line as the hotel had other guests and they didnt want to disturb them.)

We asked a few folks up to our room and chatted for the next 2 hours about community organizing and ethical communities and connections between people and communities.  It was a great big community organizer nerd fest.  i loved every minuet of it.  The people we invited up were so intelligent about everything we discussed. They listened , even if disagreed, but thats part of it too; challenging each others ideas and making us think outside of our bubble.  At about 3am we decided enough was enough and to bed we went.  9 am class to teach on Sunday. *thud*

Sunday was hard.  Not enough sleep means that I was not at my best for my class.  Then after ymy class I only wanted more coffee and socializing.  I knew that I was leaving soon there were connections I wanted ot make between this community and the one I have at home.  I spent the next 3 hours talking and visiting with folks from the northeast and the midwest.  We discussed organizational styles, types of poly people and how we can better communicate our message with a unified look, sound and feel to the greater society. Several of us agreed on talking more indepth about these topics via email.

Sadly it was time for closing ceremonies.  Lots of misty eyes and hugs. One REALLY cool part… they gave anyone who wanted to promote their group 30 seconds on the floor in front of everyone.  It didnt have to be poy specific. It was a great way to get the word out about groups open to poly folks and run by poly folks.  Another great idea for inclusion.  As we said our goodbyes and gave our final hugs to this group, I felt like I was part of something great that had just happened. On the way home, Lindsey and I couldn’t stop talking about all the great experiences and people we had just encountered.

Overall the event was a huge success and I highly recommend this one to everyone.  Ive been going to cons for over 20 years and this is by far one of the best organized and best executed events in the country.  I will be back next year.  I hope you will come too.

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