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Explorations in Judaism and Polyamory
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The first season of the Showtime series "Polyamory: Married and Dating" was broadcast last fall.  I was interested but did not get Showtime, so all I saw was excerpts that were available to the non-subscribing public, though I heard a lot about the show from friends and online.  After a few months it was not even available on demand from Showtime.  NOTE - There are some spoilers here for the first season.

There is a second season beginning later this month and I subscribed to Showtime so I can watch the previous shows (which are back online and also being broadcast) and see the new season.  I was really curious, especially since I know two of the people involved, though not well.

So what did I think?  Speaking as one approaching poly geezerhood, they are all young, svelt, and beautiful.  There are lots of sex scenes, what might be called soft core, I assume real sex, full nudity, but shot at a distance and no close ups of penetration, cum shots, etc.   Might not be your taste, though it was in context.  These are young people with high sex drives and sex plays a big part in their relationships.

The good side is that these are real people and real relationships that existed before the beginning of the programs and continue after the filming is over.   Even if drama is played up, they are vocal about their issues, they speak with each other, and they work things out.  It is a good modeling of good communication being the central feature of healthy polyamory.  This was the most positive aspect of the show (beyond pure entertainment)

From the Jewish point of view (which is after all the POV of this blog) the interesting episode is the 6th of 7 in the first season.  Two (maybe 3) of the 7 central characters (a threesome and a quad) are from Jewish backgrounds.   This comes out when it comes out that these two area the only two who are not out to their families of origin.  They both decide to come out in this episode.

Lindsey, who is married to Anthony, and their girlfriend Vanessa are all known to Lindsey's mother, but they have never been explicit of the nature of the relationship.   When they all visit her and Lindsey tells her that they are all lovers and are now engaged, she takes a few seconds, but quickly tells her how proud she is of all of them.  Though she is identified by Lindsey as Jewish, she seems not particularly religious.

In the other configuration, Tahl and Jen are married, as are Kamela and Michael.   The four have been involved for a while, but at the beginning of the series Michael and Kamela invite Tahl and Jen to move in with them.  Tahl's parents are both socially and religiously more conservative.  They were Jews who grew up in and lived in Rhodesia, Africa, before moving to California.  Not sure how observant the parents really are, but Tahl talks about how Shabbat dinner was always important family time growing up, and he still enjoys joining his parents for Shabbat dinner frequently.  Michael and Kamela have joined them a few times, but just introduced as "friends."  Now Tahl has decided to come out to his parents, and they all four are going to Shabbat dinner.   There is a lot of anxiety by both Tahl and Jen, and a little complication that comes up on the way to dinner, but after some hesitation and awkwardness Tahl tells his parents.  They are surprised but affirm their love for Tahl and acceptance, if not understanding, of the situation.

Though I think this really happened, I'm a little skeptical that it happened exactly like this, partly because I'm not sure how Tahl explained the firm crew at Shabbat dinner, as well as violations of tradition.  It is possible that the scene was recreated later for the film.   It did feel emotionally real, though.

Neither Lindsey nor Tahl seem particularly attached to being Jewish themselves, though Tahl is attached to the family tradition of his parents.   He says explicitly that he does not believe in traditional religion.  It would be more interesting to me if they were trying to integrate aspects of Judaism in their poly families.  Kamela and Michael were at Poly Living last February, where I organized a service and Shabbat dinner before the beginning of the official program.  They were not able to join us because of a meeting for conference presenters, and also Kamela was giving the keynote later that evening.   It would have been interesting if they had, but I did speak with them about it later.

The further adventures of Kemela, Michael, Jen, and Tahl will be featured in the second season, along with a different threesome.  I plan on watching.
17th-Sep-2009 01:14 am - "I'm Polyamorous" on MTV
The latest episode of MTV's True LIfe is "I'm Polyamorous."  It follows two young threesomes exploring polyamory.  Each explores adding a fourth during the course of the filming - with short term success but not long term stability.  One is a FFM group in NYC which might add a second man, while the other is a gay male threesome in North Carolina.

The positive thing is that there is a serious attempt to see how such a constellation can explore the dynamics of relationships, established and new.  It shows polyamory as not impossible. 

The negative side is that the people seem rather shallow, with no life outside the drama of coupling and partying.  Do these people have lives beyond this?  Other than that one of the women in NYC does some teaching about relationships, there is no evidence.  My understanding is that there was material filmed about their other interests, but it was not included by MTV.  The show is marketed to teens, and it was assumed, perhaps, that they would not be interested in more adult lives. 

Relationships do not exist in a vacuum.  I know one of the NYC women and she is a thoughtful and brilliant attorney, fighting for the legal rights of people whose family structures and/or styles of loving do not fit into conventional paradigms.

The show does show polyamory as a real alternative to young people who may never have seen it in that way before, but it could have been so much more!

16th-Aug-2009 05:10 pm - Jewish poly connection
Went to the Ravayah(kind of a Havdalah/Melaveh Malkah, from"Kosi Ravayah"(My cup runnith over)) from Romemu last night.  OE and DCE were there, doing a Judaism/sexuality workshop this weekend.  I know that Reb Z had suggested that O connect with me via email.  He wasn't sure why, but it was clear to me it was about the Jewish poly connection.  I had responded to his email, but it had not gone further.

I spoke with him briefly after havdalah to follow up, but he was rushing to do something else.  A few minutes later I spoke briefly with D and she invited me to sit and talk a little, even though she was clearly with an old friend with whom she was reconnecting.  When I mentioned the Reb Z suggestion, she immediately understood it was about poly.  We spoke about our mutual frustration with Aleph and it's resistance to poly or other variations of sexuality, though we both acknowledge that it was a reaction to the bad behavior of some teachers in the past.  She was surprised to hear that "Ahavaraba", the Jewish poly email list, was started after a poly affinity group at the Aleph Kallah ten years ago, though there had been resistance to any public attempt to facilitate connection among poly folks at more recent kallot.  She said, about the earlier group, "That's the kind of Jewish renewal I was looking for."

It certainly made it worthwhile to have gone in to Manhattan for the evening.

7th-Jun-2009 12:42 pm - An Old Flame
I met C at an anti-war demo in the early '80s.  We had a long distance relationship for more than a dozen years.  We saw each other only once in a while, especially after she moved out of the country (really long distance), but the relationship was important to me, and I think to her.

We stopped being lovers when she met the man who became her husband and made a commitment to monogamy, though we remained friends.  I haven't actually seen her in 9 years, but she was traveling within striking distance of where I live, so I drove an hour and a half each way to have lunch with her and her children.

It was really wonderful to see her, warm and comfortable, and great to catch up.  We talked about lots of things, but other matters were not broached, from my point of view because we were sitting with her children.  (This does not include resuming our sexual connection, since I have no interest in doing anything to harm her relationship with her husband, in case you were wondering)

Just sharing how a poly mind set helps me to remain friends with former lovers.
19th-May-2009 02:33 pm(no subject)

I was at a retreat of The Body Sacred again this past weekend.  Most of what I could say about this experience I said about the retreat last May, especially what I said about the men and women who attend.

I still am not very good at making the first move, reaching out in any kind of intimate circumstance, plus I would love to get closer to almost every woman there.  I'm happy I get to see many of them periodically.

On top of that, I came down with a cold half way through the retreat, so I was conscious of not wanting to pass on my virus to the people I love.

I won't be able to go to the summer level II retreat in July/August because it coincides with Tisha B'Av, and the energies of the two are just totally opposite.  Also, we are feeling broke.  It will be a stretch to make it to the Aleph Kallah this summer, where I will be doing some leadership and hope to convene a poly/sacred sexuality affinity group.
8th-Mar-2009 04:01 pm - Poly Leadership Summit
Speaking of a poly movement, I was not able to stay but after the conference (see previous post), on Sunday evening and Monday, there was the second Poly Leadership Summit, a chance for various people to talk about how to raise the profile and legitimacy of polyamory as one of the choices   Though I was not there, I have heard good and encouraging reports.
8th-Mar-2009 03:00 pm - Poly Living Conference
Last weekend was the Poly Living Conference outside of Philadelphia.  It was a lot of fun, with wonderful people to hang out with, as well as being edifying.   As advertised, I led a Kabbalat Shabbat service and veggie pot luck on Friday before the official opening program.  Also as usual, a lot more people would have attended if they had realized it was happening (They told me so).  I'm not sure what else I can do to solve this problem.  Robyn put it not only in the printed program but in the schedule available on the website a month before the conference.  We had a few people when we started.  A few more came in during the service, and a few more came by in time to eat something.  Nevertheless it met my needs and those of some other people.

My workshop on Sunday morning was also small, but with enthusiastic participants.  It was on religious and spiritual issues with polyamory.  It would have benefitted from a co-participant who came from the Christian tradition, though a lot of that came from the participants.

The opening session was highlighted by a short but enthusiastic keynote by Cunning Minx from the Polyamory Weekly podcast.  She has made it available here for those who were not able to attend.  If you browse back you will see she was also blogging from the conference.

I seem to have attended the more intellectual workshops, rather than the experiential ones.  Just where I was at at the time.  The whole schedule can be seen here.  Saturday morning I began with Ageless SexTM: Secrets of Great Sex at Any Age.  It had a lot of good information for those of us who are no longer spring chickens, though she could have been more organized - partly a reflection of having a good time the night before.  Then I went to a workshop about people doing scholarship on polyamory. 

After lunch my first workshop was Poly 101 for Counselors, Therapists and Life Coaches.  Though I'm not generally doing this work actively at this time, and I found the exploration interesting.  This workshop and the previous one prompted my desire to do some research on how people with more than one partner are treated in health care facilities.  I'm not sure when I will have an opportunity to actually do the work.

My second afternoon workshop was Poly weddings? The Legal Impact of Same Sex Marriage Decisions on your Poly Family.  This was also a wider exploration of legal issues affecting polys, but one particular interesting discussion was whether the push for same sex marriage was good or bad for polys.  In some ways it is good because it broadens the definition of legal relationships, but it also tends to define normative as the monogamous pair bond.  It seems to have become the only issue for the LGBT movement.  One problem, which the presenter and I agree, is the use of the word "marriage" in both a civil and a religious context so conservative religious people see a change in civil marriage as forcing a change in the religious institution.  They are not nearly so intertwined in many other countries.  I am a big fan of Diana, the presenter.  In fact I have a big crush on her (I have this thing for really sharp and intelligent women) but she sees me as her sweet uncle, so I am stuck with that level of connection.

Sunday morning after my workshop I went to Poly Survival Kit.  It was a second presentation I attended by Robert McGarey.  He is very thoughtful on how poly relationships can work and not work.

There were also various social activities on Friday and Saturday nights.  Though there was a real sense of relaxed interaction, it was more a sensual connection than overly sexual, at least where I was.  I can't vouch for the experience of anyone else. :-)

I had a great time, met old and new friends, and was able to be part of the movement to make polyamory a legitimate alternative in our world.

I expect to be leading a workshop at Poly Living Conference later this winter in Philly on polyamory in a spiritual/religious context, as well as a Kabbalat Shabbat/Entering Sacred Time ritual and veggie pot luck before the official opening of the conference on Friday night. 

I hope some of you can join me.

February 27th through March 1st, 2009 • •
• •Fort Washington Hotel • Phil., PA • •
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• Creating Intimacy • Polyamory 101 & 201
• Being single & Poly • Rebuilding broken trust
• Secondary's survival skills • Legal issues for Polys
• Exploring other Relationship • Creative Flirting and more Alternatives

Evenings at Poly Living take on a more social feel, with surprises in store for everyone. We'll have several groups organized for dinner at different restaurants on Saturday evening. And there is always the hotel's restaurant and bar, or many types of entertainment that the city offers.

But best of all, when the conference is over, you'll not only go home with new tools to help you in your poly lifestyle, you'll have made new friends and relationships to carry throughout the coming years.

Conference Fees

Weekend Conference (excludes hotel) 

Room Rates:

Before October 15, 2008 $190 $104 per night per room, for up to 4 people per room
October 15 - January 24, 2008 $220 Book directly with hotel (Hotel Information)
January 24 - February 25, 2009 $250 ***Mention Poly Living to receive ***
***Special Hotel Conference rates.***


Conference Price includes:

•  Workshops by experienced Presenters  •  Evening Entertainment
 •  Friday night reception and social •  Lunch on Saturday

We have partial scholarships available and discount for work exchange volunteers.

$45 Cancellation Fee - No Refunds After January 15, 2009

Loving More Members receive 10% discount

14th-Nov-2008 12:32 am - Progress and the Opposite

with thanks to leswamp

9th-Nov-2008 10:03 am - (Not World Wide) Web
Last night I went to the Boogie with my daughter.  I was glad to see my lover A and give her her birthday present, kiss her and dance with her, and plan to get together soon.

I also saw L whom I've gotten to know better recently, both here and in poly circles.  In properly greeting her, between kisses, she said "Full disclosure.  I'm now I's sweety."  I is an ex of P, my primary partner.  Oh what a web we weave!  :-)

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