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Women accuse employer of discrimination after over their polyamorous relationship

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

TWO women in a polyamorous relationship with a man say they have been punished with the sack for their unconventional lifestyle.

New.com.au

Married woman Laura Frost says she was fired from her job at a BP service station west of Melbourne after her bosses found out she had invited younger co-worker Andrea into the marital bed she shares with husband Michael.

The women, who say their love developed while working night shift together at the servo, were caught fraternising on CCTV.

“One of the girls at work asked me ‘What about Michael?’ I said ‘Yeah, he’s there as well,’” Andrea, who was single at the time, told Nine’s A Current Affair.

The women say they were later barred from working together.

“I was made to sign a piece of paper saying ... I would not talk to Andrea,” Laura, said, describing their unusual living arrangement as “surprisingly normal.”

 

Michael says he's devastated to see his "girls" so upset. Picture: A Current AffairSource:Supplied

 

Andrea says she was told: “Don’t talk about your sexuality, you’re making someone uncomfortable.”

Both claim they were later let go.

“There was a message on my mobile saying my services were no longer required at BP, my employment was terminated with no reason given,” Laura said.

BP denies the allegations, according to the program, and in a statement said: “We are inclusive employer and take very seriously our responsibility to provide a safe workplace for our staff.” ...

This Gay, Muslim SoCal Native Is Busting Boundaries in the Leather Community

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

LA Weekly

BY MICHAEL CIRIACO

June 26, 2017, was a grim day for religious tolerance in America. On that date, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold parts of the Trump administration's travel ban, which restricts people from six predominantly Islamic countries from entering the United States, lending credibility to the irrational wave of xenophobia that swept a foul-mouthed reality TV star into the Oval Office. But, when it comes to inclusivity, while SCOTUS backslides, Ali Mushtaq is stepping up.

 

"I’m in a competition where most people don’t look like me," said Mushtaq, an openly gay Muslim and the first Pakistani-American to participate in the International Mr. Leather competition. "I have a small build, I’m 5 foot 7. I don’t look like your typical Tom of Finland model. I set out to pave the way for those who don’t look like that, whether they are Pakistani, black, overweight. I wanted to show that if I’m there, it's possible with anybody."

 

For readers uninitiated into the realm of kink, IML is an annual, pageant-style competition for leather enthusiasts and members of the BDSM community. Think Miss America, but with more public spankings. Contestants traditionally fit the beefcake archetype popularized by the erotic art of Tom of Finland: hyper-masculine, hairy-chested, statuesque. They tend to look more like a Brawny Paper Towels mascot than the compact, dark-skinned Mushtaq. But to Mushtaq, diversity is a core element of the leather community.

 

"We’re on the forefront of being progressive and inclusive," the 27-year-old Mushtaq says in a phone interview. "All of us are perverted and weird to a certain degree. But we accept each other regardless. That’s what I loved about it. We are on the fringes of society. We are the deviants and misfits, even though we're all basically really normal."

 

 

An Orange County native, Mushtaq was introduced to the leather scene while earning his Ph.D. in sociology in San Francisco. Last September, he was crowned Mr. Long Beach Leather, which served as a warmup to IML in Chicago in May. A multiday affair, IML begins with a preliminary meet-and-greet.

 

"The judges basically figure out if you are crazy or not," Mushtaq jokes.

 

The next day involves a more formal interview process, where judges will ask a series of questions, ranging from personal experience in the leather community to leather history and current issues. Contestants are judged on stage presence during an event dubbed "Pecs and Personality." On Sunday, finalists are evaluated based on appearance and presentation skills.

 

 

"You are put onstage, sometimes in your jockstrap, and you are answering a funny question on the fly," Mushtaq explains. "Then [you] give a speech. There are some leather contests where they make you play onstage: BDSM, whipping, tying people up, those kind of things. You would do what’s called a fantasy scene. It's like a theatrical ‘What would you do sexually to somebody if you could.’

 

"I had to judge a fantasy once at San Diego Leather," Mushtaq continues, "and somebody did something on Build-a-Bear. So, she sexualized the idea of building a gay bear and doing stuff to him. It was an interesting combination of 'What would you do sexually' and performance."

 

While the competitive leather circuit has exposed Mushtaq to diverse examples of sexual expression, it has also, at times, highlighted social inequity.

 

"This year has been an eye-opening experience," Mushtaq says. "I’m so used to Southern California, and the SoCal leather scene. There are Latinos and black people and Asians everywhere. We’re diverse. I went to Mid-Atlantic Leather [in Washington, D.C.] for the first time. I noticed, if I introduced some of the black people to the white people, the white people would just talk over them or ignore them. I’m like, that’s weird."

What’s it like to be in a polyamorous relationship?

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Around the world, a growing community is seeking happiness in polyamorous relationships. As they jettison the expectations of monogamy, even substituting jealousy with positivity, Lounge explores the poly meaning of love

LiveMint

by Partho Chakrabartty

A small but growing community, in India and around the world, is challenging a foundational construct of society: that a monogamous marriage is the only way to have a fulfilling long-term relationship. Their experiences, which loosely fall under the umbrella term “polyamory”, have a lot to teach us about honesty, jealousy, acceptance, and love itself.

 

A 30 May Mint report on the extramarital online dating service Gleeden said that the website already had over 100,000 subscribers in India (up to 180,000 at the time of going to press). The numbers indicate the existence of, at the very least, a willingness by married Indian men and women to explore extramarital dating. But polyamory is different—it involves having more than one intimate relationship with the knowledge and consent of all those involved. This makes polyamory a form of ethical non-monogamy, as opposed to infidelity.

 

Infidelity is the more common way of responding to the strictures of monogamy. Given the sensitive nature of the topic, getting accurate numbers for the rate of infidelity in India is hard. Consider the 2014 survey conducted by Canadian online extramarital dating service Ashley Madison. According to reports in the media, of the 75,321 respondents from 10 Indian cities, 76% of the women and 61% of the men didn’t consider infidelity a sin. In contrast, a survey conducted in 2013-14 by the US-based research organization Pew Research Center, with 2,464 respondents, reported 27% of Indians as saying that extramarital affairs are either “morally acceptable” or “not a moral issue”. The numbers for consensually non-monogamous individuals are even harder to estimate, but may be as high as 10-12 million people in the US alone, according to a 2014 Atlantic article.

 

The numbers are hard to estimate in part because of the stigma around polyamory. Society, when it is not being hostile or outright abusive, tends to dismiss polyamorous or poly people as either sex-crazed or frivolous and incapable of commitment. On the contrary, I found poly individuals like Rishika Anchalia and Aparna Dauria, who agreed to be interviewed for this piece, to be engaging more seriously and thoughtfully with relationships than some of those who unquestioningly follow the norm.

 

What polyamory asks is, “Why does non-monogamy have to involve lies and deceit?” The main idea is that relationships need not follow templates. Consenting adults—two or more—can write their own rules. It is this focus on what love is, rather than what it is supposed to be, that pierces the veil of myths and conditioning surrounding this queen of all emotions.

 

 

When Vidya (who asked that only her first name be used), an entrepreneur from Bengaluru, first acted on an attraction she felt towards a person other than her partner of five years, she was thrown into a maelstrom of confusion and guilt. As she struggled to make sense of what she was feeling, her primary relationship with her partner became strained.

 

Seven years later, Vidya, now in her mid-30s, successful, intelligent and well-read, brings to our conversation the independence of mind that I have frequently encountered in the poly community. Many friends advised her to forget all about it and move on, without telling her partner. This did not sit well with her. “Did my cheating mean I was no longer in love with my partner? Absolutely not, I still adored him. But still, if I believed in honesty and faithfulness, what was I doing? And then I realized that sharing love and sex with someone else didn’t feel wrong. The lying and deceit did.”

 

She discussed the episode with her partner, but he was not ready to open up the relationship. Vidya might have chosen to deny the part of herself that connected intimately with other people, and stayed with her partner. But if dishonesty towards her partner was reprehensible for Vidya, dishonesty towards herself was even more so. They parted amicably, and she has identified as poly ever since.

 

Honesty is important to the poly community, which means individuals cheating on their spouses are not welcome. Even relationships that have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule—where people agree to date others, but want to be kept in the dark—are frowned upon. The idea is that a barrier to communication implies an issue in the existing relationship that cannot be resolved by getting into another one.

 

It is this attention to ethics that complicates the assumption that polyamorous people are simply promiscuous. While the poly community is sex-positive—that is, it regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable—and does not look down upon casual sexual relationships, promiscuity implies being less discerning in one’s choice of partner. The poly emphasis on honesty and communication often makes this community more discerning, not less. ...

Why Are Cops Catfishing Sex Workers in Canada?

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Sex workers and prominent organizations are asking for police to stop.

Vice

ALLISON TIERNEY

Cops in Canada have been posing as sex worker clients in "rescue" missions no one really asked for. Now, numerous prominent organizations and individuals have issued an open letter in support of sex workers calling for British Columbia police to cease involvement in Operation Northern Spotlight, a country-wide covert police operation involving the catfishing of sex workers.

 

"It's baffling that police think this is a positive thing and that it's actually going to be helpful," said sex work campaign lawyer Brenda Belak of Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver. Pivot was one of the groups that signed the open letter.

 

As part of the operation, police pretend to be clients on sites like Backpage, set up dates, and try to "save" sex workers from their jobs. It's an attempt, albeit a misguided one, to target trafficking.

 

"There's certainly no legal basis for it because the law right now in Canada… targets the clients of sex workers, which is essentially the same as targeting sex workers." Current Canadian laws surrounding sex work were introduced in 2014; as it stands, it's illegal to buy sex, but not to sell it.

 

Operation Northern Spotlight was first conceived by Durham Regional Police in Ontario in 2014. Major raids of the project occurred in October 2015 and October 2016, the latter of which involved the FBI and 53 Canadian police agencies in nine provinces. Pivot has been contacted by sex workers working on their own accord who say they feel they're not in danger except for through these raids. Belak pointed to the entering of premises without warrants and illegal searches of sex workers—both of which have allegedly been part of the operation. She said some victims of the raids have had charges unrelated to sex work brought upon them.

 

Jelena Vermillion, 23, a sex worker in Ontario, said she is "fed up" with how police and the law in Canada deal with the field she works in.

 

"Sex workers deserve a lot more respect and dignity. We have so much autonomy, and we've just been screaming into the void for so long, and no one seems to want to listen to us," Vermillion told VICE. "We're not babies—trafficking may be a real issue, but trafficking in sex work and consensual sex work are very different." ...

What being in a polyamorous relationship has taught me about jealousy

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Jenny Schnitzer, 28, lives in Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. She works full-time and is studying English literature.

iNews

I can’t say for sure when I started being interested in non-monogamy. Even as a child, I didn’t understand the point of only having one partner. I thought that if you love someone and you also love someone else, then why not love them all? I tried monogamy as I was growing up but I could never make it fit.

It wasn’t until my first marriage that I realised I needed a different relationship structure, and it wasn’t until I met my husband that I found a name for what I wanted: polyamory.

Polyamory

Polyamory is when people have intimate relationships with more than one partner at a time, with the consent of everyone involved

When I first started dating Pete, he was living in Harrisburg while I was still living at home in New Jersey. I remember saying it didn’t make sense for us to be exclusive since we lived three hours away from each other and he agreed.

Why our relationship works

We decided to keep things open. There are now four of us in our relationship: myself, Pete, Kati and Andrew.

Pete and I found Kati on Tinder in November of 2014 and I met Andrew through work. My boss made me introduce myself and we started dating in May 2015.

We all live together in an apartment and we see each other, at least in passing, every day. Sometimes it’s just for a quick “good night,” while other times we go out on dates in whatever pairing or group seems to fit.

I don’t know if there’s a way to really describe how our relationship works. It just…does.

‘Sexually, Pete and Kati sometimes do add to the mix, while Andrew and I are happy with each other’ The ‘hierarchy’ of partners has shifted over time. Originally Pete and I were each other’s primary partners, but over time he and Kati have gravitated towards each other as primaries, as have Andrew and myself. It kind of changes as it needs to.

I don’t really have a physical relationship with Kati, but she’s become my best friend. Pete and Andrew are not into each other. Andrew is fairly monogamous, just involved in a polyamorous relationship. Pete is bisexual, but he’s not into Andrew.

Our biggest rule is that you don’t bring a toxic person back to the home. If Pete and Kati decide to find a partner, there has to be some heads-up for the rest of us, and the new partner has to be made aware of the situation they are about to get involved with. Sexually, Pete and Kati sometimes do add people to the mix, while Andrew and I are happy with each other. We’ve all found someone who works with our appetites. I think if Pete and I did want to have sex again we would, but Andrew and Kati have no attraction to each other; they’re just good friends.

Sexual encounters outside of our relationship

The only two who really have sexual encounters outside of our relationship are Pete and Kati, but mostly Pete. He’s got quite the appetite. I think Kati’s attracted a few people, both men and women. They definitely make it work.

The aspects of polyamory that I appreciate are the communication, the shared responsibility, and knowing that I’ve got love coming at me from three different people. Any relationship needs communication to work, but in a polyamorous relationship it really plays a big part. I like knowing that we don’t have to guess what the other person is feeling. None of us are the kind of people who keep anything quiet. Everything is on the table and it’s always up for discussion.

‘I know that I can come home to find people who genuinely care about me’ I also enjoy the shared responsibility for maybe the wrong reasons. With four of us, the chores get spread pretty evenly and I think I’ve ended up with the easy stuff: emptying the dishwasher and folding the laundry.

And love, who doesn’t love being loved? It’s amazing. I know that I can come home to find people who genuinely care about me and who want me to be at my best.

The part of our relationship I find difficult is when Pete brings in potential partners for him and Kati or just for himself. I don’t find it as easy to trust new people, and I’m pretty guarded when I first meet someone. I’ve gotten so used to the four of us that new people feel a bit weird. Some I’ve gotten used to, others have shown themselves out. ...

 

Guest Blog: When You Have a Kinky Therapist

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

by Nicole Guappone 

I first started seeing my therapist nearly three years ago. I wanted someone LGBTQIA+ friendly, sex-positive, and poly-aware. Kink was not a big part of my life yet. Still, the intake coordinator matched me with someone based on my requests and I’ve been with her ever since. A few months after I started seeing her, a friend invited me to an open house at a local dungeon. The next time I saw my therapist, I told her I went, and she listened just like she always does, until there was a pause in the conversation. “OK,” she said, “it’s time for The Conversation.” (That’s how it sounded, like The Conversation was capitalized.)

            In the interest of honesty and disclosure, my therapist revealed that she is a member of that dungeon and that this is one of the challenges of working with kinky clients and also wanting to remain in the local scene herself. Some therapists choose to stop playing in public, others will travel out of state to go to events. But some don’t want to give up the community they’ve already fostered in their area, and that’s understandable.

            So what’s it like having a therapist who is kink-identified? I, personally, really like it. It can be hard enough being kinky and dealing with all of the complex emotions that play can bring up, so it feels good having a therapist who “gets” it. As someone who likes to push her own boundaries and play with emotional edges, having a therapist like this is especially helpful. Is having a therapist like this also tricky sometimes? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a therapist and want one who is kink-identified or end up with one who is, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

 

1. Maintain Boundaries

One of the magical parts of therapy is that you get to spend an hour talking about yourself. Therapists interject, they help you process, they do their job. But the sharing is one-sided—that’s part of the deal.

            This professional therapist/client relationship can feel a little tainted if you suddenly know this personal thing about them—they’re kinky!—and it kinda feels like when you were a kid and you ran into a teacher at the grocery store. Teachers look so strange outside of the classroom…

            And now that you know one personal thing about your therapist, you might want to know more. Dominant or submissive? Relationship status? Biggest fetish? Guess what? It’s none of your business! Sure, at some point probably everyone who’s had a therapist has wondered about their therapist’s life. Every once in awhile you might even feel like you’re obligated to know more because you reveal to them your deepest, darkest secrets and vulnerabilities. It’s only fair, right?

            If you like your therapist and have been working with them a long time, it’s totally natural to be curious about what they’re like outside of the office. But trust them—their lack of sharing is for your own good. In training, therapists learn how to keep their personal biases from affecting their work with clients. You and I (most likely) haven’t had those lessons. So even if you know your therapist is kinky, understand that you know because it’s relevant to your professional relationship. It is not an invitation for more questions or prodding into their personal lives.

 

2. Negotiate and Plan Ahead

It’s a word we in the kink world all know. Negotiation! It’s important to hot, healthy scenes and/or non-monogamous relationships. But you just found out you might run into your therapist at the dungeon. Now what? Chances are, they are used to having these conversations, so they will probably tell you how they prefer to handle it. Maybe they like checking in before they go to events to make sure you don’t run into each other. Maybe they’d rather not check in and just bail if you happen to walk in while they’re there. But…what if one of you is already engaged in a scene? Have you broken the “rules”?

            There are no simple answers and there are always ethical guidelines. Some things are personal preference. Others, well…probably you don’t want to let the accidentally-seeing-your-therapist-in-a-scene-thing happen. Therapists have their own thoughts about all of this and they talk about it amongst themselves frequently—not even just kinky therapists, but any who may worry about seeing clients outside of the office.

            But I’ll tell you how my therapist and I handle it: It’s an ongoing process. If I know I’m going to an event this weekend, I’ll usually bring it up in session or at the end of the session. This in no way obligates her to tell me her plans, but now she knows mine. If she makes plans another weekend, sometimes she checks in with me before we end our session. We don’t even have to do this too often, usually only if specific events are coming up that the other is likely to go to.

            Despite the nature of your relationship with your therapist, it can still feel awkward talking about this stuff with them, especially when you’re being extremely cautious of those boundaries I mentioned earlier. But remember, it’s a sacrifice your therapist has chosen to make if they wish to stay active in the local community and it’s something you need to be OK with if you like seeing a therapist who can better understand this part of you.

            Some therapists and clients get specific, i.e. clients go to the club or events held on Friday nights and their therapist takes Saturdays. Or, one person takes odd-numbered dates, the other, even. That might work for some, not for others. Just find out what works best for you.

 

3. Process Together

This is something else that may be a personal choice. Typically, if my therapist and I run into each other at a non-play event or a conference, the next time we see each other in the office, we’ll start with that. The first time we ever ran into each other, both of us freaked out a bit and we processed together in our next session. She asked how I felt when I saw her there. I asked her how she felt when she saw me. We figured out how to best navigate those situations. I prefer—and she appreciates this—giving her at least a smile and nod of acknowledgement when I see her.

            Even still, no matter how many times we have this conversation, it’s always a little awkward. Processing doesn’t have to be long and drawn out; just take a few minutes at the start of a session if you like. I know that my therapist values this processing and it seems like it’s something we both need. Even if the conversation is awkward, I’m comfortable enough trying to navigate it with her. Ideally, you should be able to talk to your therapist about anything!

 

 

Being kinky and having a kinky therapist can be a blessing and a curse. Maybe a kink-aware therapist is all you need or want, especially if you don’t really plan to talk about your kink in session. But if you like to push yourself and your boundaries with your play, to learn about yourself and your partner(s) through play, it is amazing to work through these things with someone who understands kink on a deeper level. It’s just one more type of negotiation you learn how to do, and in the end, it’s all worth it.

Everyone has a story. What's yours?

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

NCSF has heard a lot of stories over the past 20 years. Now we want to let others hear what you have to say. 

Have you been discriminated against because you are kinky or non-monogamous? We want to hear from you. 
 
We also want to hear your story if you've been outed or if you've outed yourself as a fetishist, cross-dresser, leatherman/woman, or because you're in a polyamorous or Lifestyle relationship. 
 
We also want to hear if you've been involved in a consent incident in a BDSM or non-monogamous encounter.

Please fill out a short survey for each story you'd like to tell us about:

 
Tell us your story and we will share it anonymously on www.ncsfreedom.org!

Divine Deviance

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

 

 
Inline Image 1
 

More Info:

Divine Deviance will be by, about, and for the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community; this film and web series is also for anyone interested in the diversity of human sexuality and the creation of brother- and sisterhood outside of blood family. To our knowledge, this will be the first comprehensive documentary project that takes an in-depth look at Kink/BDSM/Fetish globally and not just on a local level.

Rather than a typical documentary, Divine Deviance will be a multi-part series: Each segment will include a lively roundtable introduction focusing on a specific theme and featuring a diverse group of Kink/BDSM/Fetish leaders from around the globe. The intro will segue into a deeper exploration of the same theme following one or two people from the round table. Each one of these chapters or episodes (introduction plus individual story) will run from 30-40 minutes - except for the first one about the History of Kink. As the foundation of the whole series it will take up about a full hour. The various episodes can be viewed separately, but multiple components can also be combined into a longer piece. The beauty of this approach is that we can produce the series incrementally and the audience can view selectively—picking an assortment of segments that will both fit their budget and suit their interests.

As a starting point, we are currently assembling an international advisory committee with representatives from all aspects of the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community—LGB and heterosexual, transgender and cisgender, women and men, differently abled, differently abled, people of all colors, and various nationalities. This group will help ensure that the project represents the true diversity of Kink/BDSM/Fetish.

As mentioned, Divine Deviance will cover a whole range of themes relevant to the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community. We will start with a few key topics and expand from there:

 

• History
• Gender
• Race
• Spirituality
• Mainstreaming

We are fundraising in collaboration with Kink/BDSM/Fetish organizations and allies around the world and will make extensive use of crowd- and social media-based funding. Our kickoff party took place in San Francisco on September 22nd 2016 at the famous/infamous Armory.

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