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Meet the Minnesotans finding love through polyamory

on Friday, 02 March 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

City Paper

“It’s not a fear of commitment. It’s commitment, plus one,” she says. “Jim and I spent 20 years together monogamously and this is not a plug to fill a problem. This is something that the parts are greater than the whole and it would be sad to not take advantage of this opportunity for everybody’s life to be fuller, richer, better.”

Guest Blog: The Open Photo Project - An Artist Statement from Photographer Erika Kapin

on Monday, 26 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

Gloria was in the closet about being polyamorous for years. What it took for her to come out was being diagnosed with breast cancer. Upon diagnosis, she realized how short life is and that she wanted to be out and proud in all her identities. However, she still keeps her polyamorous identity hidden from her sister in order to avoid condemnation from her family or origin. Rose, Josh and Xtina are in a committed relationship, share a home and raise their young child together. They have worries about legal rights for all three parents and protections for their child. They hope the state will eventually acknowledge their three-parent household. Ignacio Rivera raised a daughter to adulthood as a non-monogamous single parent. When Ignacio’s daughter was very young, they were living on welfare and Ignacio faced intense stigma, judgment and slut shaming for being a single mother who is also polyamorous. Aida has several romantic partners and works as a therapist helping others with similar identities. Most of Aida’s family are very religious would not approve of non-monogamy, so Aida often introduces partners as ‘good friends’ for fear of family non-acceptance and retaliation. Chrissy avoids socializing with her children’s friend’s parents because in her conservative neighborhood, she fears if other parents discover she and her husband are polyamorous, they will be stigmatized.

TheOpenPhotoProject MichaelAndSarah 2016 08 03 MG 1250 2

Consensual non-monogamy is typically defined as the state of being sexually or romantically involved with more than one person simultaneously, with the full awareness and consent of those involved. Many relationship identities exist under the consensual non-monogamy umbrella including polyamory, relationship anarchy, swinging, open relationships, poly-fidelity and more.

02 MG 8411

Adults who love outside of the monogamous ideal often face negative repercussions. Non-monogamous people can face discrimination from mainstream society, employers, and landlords. Many become ostracized from their family of origin and experience lack of legal protection around issues of child custody. Polyamorous people have been fired from their jobs because, while there are legal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, being polyamorous is not legally defined as a sexual orientation and therefore does not receive the same legal protection. Because of the threat of social, familial and legal ramifications, many people in these relationships are forced to remain closeted and present socially as monogamous.

TheOpenPHotoProject 2015 MG 9127

By combining photographs of non-monogamous people in their daily lives with their own words about relationships, The Open Photo Project challenges the mainstream social ideals that enforce a compulsory understanding of monogamy as the only ethical relationship style. The stories in this project strive to de-stigmatize consensually non-monogamous relationships by bringing awareness and cultivating empathy.

TheOpenPhotoProject ChrisAndZ 2015 03 28 MG 2093

By photographing non-monogamous people in a variety of their everyday activities, I seek to present them as the complex, multi-dimensional human beings that they are. Whether cooking a meal, on the way to work, or naked with a partner, these images reveal the complex lives of these people and their choices. A combination of portraits, daily life activities and text excerpts from conversations will show an in-depth look into their lives and relationship choices.

TheOpenPhotoProject KevinAntoinetteRebeccaCira 2017 09 MG 0969

My goal is to confront the broad misconceptions that exist in the mainstream social landscape where monogamy is the default relationship style (and the only one universally considered ethical). In addressing people who believe that monogamy is the only acceptable relationship model to cultivate healthy romantic love, I wish to introduce them to the beautiful, complex and fulfilling lives that are possible among non-monogamous people.

TheOpenPhotoProject LolaAndThreePiece 2017 09 MG 1075web

This project offers a look at the uniqueness of human relationships and an invitation to re-examine preconceived notions of successful, sustainable, and healthy romantic love.

TheOpenPhotoProject RoseMegan 2017 04 30 MG 0222

How to Create an Open Environment for Talking About Sex

on Saturday, 24 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


“I mean, the very first question someone asked one day was, ‘How do I introduce BDSM into my sex life?’ ” he says, “and I raised my hand like, ‘Hey, I have a question for all of you: What is BDSM?’ And so they tell me what it is—essentially Fifty Shades of Grey, right?—and we start talking about it, and people are sort of passively saying, ‘Well, you know, it’s when you engage in sort of fantasy play and you use whips and chains,’ and all these things, and I was sitting there just like, ‘Wow, I have the most boring sex life.’ I had no idea that we could use sex as a prism to look at things like safety and trust and self-respect and creativity and our childhood and our relationship to our friends and our parents and the world around us. I was just like, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ ”

Take our New Survey!

on Thursday, 22 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

Please take our new Health and Technology Survey, done in partnership with Dr. Rob Cramer’s Old Dominion University research team. Help us to better understand the health issues we face as members of the kink, leather, fetish and non-monogamy communities, and find out how technology can be used to improve our health.

It takes 20-30 minutes to complete, and has Human Subjects Review Committee approval from Old Dominion University:

This survey is a follow-up to our 2015 Mental Health Survey, done in partnership with Dr. Cramer’s research team at University of Alabama and University of Central Florida. Over 800 kinky people took the 2015 survey and were found to be mentally and emotionally healthy as a group.

The results also documented the effects of stigma due to kink discrimination and persecution. These results have been published in: Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation and International Journal of Social Psychiatry. A poster on the results will be presented at the American Psychological Association annual conference in San Francisco, CA, this August with NCSF Board Members attending and exhibiting to help educate mental health professionals.

Help us further the understanding of our communities by taking this survey!

Grandparents' Journey From Vanilla Sex to BDSM

on Thursday, 22 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


“Most couples think that honest communication is the key to a happy relationship, but they don't understand that honest communication does not mean just talking honestly," Doug says. "It means talking completely, being unafraid to be vulnerable enough to each other and admit that you have thoughts, desires, fantasies that some people might think are strange, but you need to have the comfort level with your partner to not hold anything back.”

Guest Blog: Parenting and polyamory

on Wednesday, 21 February 2018. Posted in NCSF News

by Tiro

A few years ago, I was talking to a therapist who knew nothing about polyamory. (In fact, she seemed to know very little about most things and our sessions were more like a series of 45-minute lectures on alternative lifestyles—thanks, National Health Service!) I was attempting to explain that yes, I had two partners, both of whom knew about each other, and who had at least one other partner of their own, and yes, this was completely comfortable for me and not in any way pathological, and so on. Eventually, after a lot of rhetorical and emotional labor, she finally looked at me and said, with some satisfaction, “Well, since you’re not planning on having any children, I guess you should do whatever works for you.”

At the time, that felt like enough of a victory, but I’ve heard the same claim repeated both inside and outside the poly-knowledgeable spheres I live in, and every time it’s bothered me slightly more. Why would a poly family be a bad environment to raise children?

More than one in three Americans is part of a stepfamily. This means they have experienced the addition of other adults and/or children, not genetically related to them, into their domestic life. It also means that they have experienced the trauma of a relationship ending, either as a child or a parent.

Research suggests that the single biggest positive factor in minimizing negative outcomes for children involved in separation is positive co-parenting. If children are able to spend the right amount of time with both parents and are not subjected to acrimony, the vast majority of them do well.

In a poly family with children, there is a biological mother and father for each child, and a selection of additional adults, some of whom may take on a measure of parental responsibility. This looks very similar to a blended or step-family of two divorced adults, their new partners, and children from their current and previous relationships. The major difference is a poly family doesn’t come together after a traumatic separation. It’s all of the benefits of having extra adult perspectives in a child’s life, only nobody hates each other—or worse, desperately tries to pretend they don’t hate each other.

Of course, poly families with less stable bonds, or whose lifestyles entail more disruption of the children’s routines, are much less likely to produce stable, well-adjusted children, but the same can be said for situations where one parent has multiple short-term monogamous relationships as they spasmodically try to rediscover the dating scene.

Naturally, there’s no research out there to compare children raised in poly families to those from monogamous post-divorce blended families or monogamous couples who stayed together, so this is all conjecture. I believe, however, that the obvious comparison with blended families means there’s no clear reason to claim that poly families can’t raise happy, successful children.


on Wednesday, 21 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Paper Mag

In the world of BDSM, the lack of representation of people of color persists as it does in many other pockets of American mainstream and underground culture. One man breaking the mold of the stereotypical white leather daddy is Ali Mushtaq, a Pakistani-American from California whose presence at leather events and in BDSM circles is something of an anomaly, given his Muslim background and in his words, "Punjabi" appearance. Having won the title of Mr. Leather at a competition in California last year, Mushtaq has been using his platform to drive forward the conversation around visibility, representation and equality in sexuality. Breaking down stereotypes that Muslims can't be into fetishes or kink, Mushtaq is a sex symbol for a modern age — one in which religion, race and gender are no longer barriers to freedom of sexual expression.

Polyamory In The PRC: A Brief History Of Sex And Swinging In Modern China

on Thursday, 15 February 2018. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


In 2010, the then-53-year-old bespectacled academic became the face of Chinese swinging when he was arrested for “group licentiousness.” Although one of 22 charged, it was Ma’s refusal to quietly roll over and plead guilty, coupled with his professorial status, that made him a cause célèbre; it was thusly revealed, to many in China, that orgies are technically illegal.

The case symbolized the division between an older, staunchly conservative establishment and its more progressive, post-Reform juniors, who take freewheeling, pluralistic runs at formerly forbidden fare.

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