Saturday, November 24, 2007

More Polyamory

ran a letter from a woman in a polyamorous situation and many people felt my answer was condescending. I apparently did not choose my words carefully, because I have no problem with how consenting adults want to live. I was merely pointing out that the polyamorous lifestyle was by no means mainstream. I received a letter from a clergyman in Houston, the Reverend Storm Weaver, whose letter I would like to share with you because he speaks for me, as well: I have a response for "Happily Poly." I've spent 25 years providing support and pastoral care for individuals who have chosen "culturally fringed" lifestyles, including polyamory.


If Happily and her family came to me, I would tell them the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, so people are going to have an opinion. It is up to her and her family how they respond to those opinions . . . but they won't stop people from having them. If she lets it get to her, it will compromise the joy she has in her family.

The success of a complex family style hinges on open, honest communication, and on acknowledging that you are something different, and once you are visible you will be targets for people's curiosity and commentary. Hold on to one another, protect those who really need protecting (whether it's a family partner or a child who is learning how to integrate into a social environment where kids have only two parents, instead of four or six), and never forget that you came to this place in a spirit of love and joy.

I am encouraged that people like Happily are becoming more visible. For the past 25 years one of my most difficult struggles was in helping people who were terrified to let their alternative family be seen in public. Those days are passing, and those of us who have been involved in this area since early on see the ability to talk about things like polyamory or same-gender-parent families in public as a real blessing.

Many people will disagree with these choices, and it's unlikely that family groupings like polyamory will ever become "commonplace," but knowing that these kinds of families exist, that they are our neighbors and sometimes our friends, that happy families can develop even in groups that are not typical is encouraging. As a longtime proponent of honesty in dealing with familial alternatives, I say, "Be as happy as you can. Your joy is the thing that will eventually quell the commentary."

Give It a Rest, Granny

DEAR MARGO: We have one grandson to carry on the family name, and he refuses to find a wife. We've explained to him that it's the Lord's plan that we all marry and that he's cheating some poor girl out of her special day, but the boy will not listen. We've heard that Native Americans have arranged marriages. My husband is one-quarter Cherokee. How would we go about arranging a marriage for our grandson?


DEAR CON: Whether or not it's the Lord's plan that we all marry, it is clearly not your grandson's. One cannot force marriage on the unwilling, either to provide some girl with a special day or to carry on the family name. Because your grandson is one-sixteenth Cherokee, he likely would not be a candidate for a match up anyway, even if he were willing -- which he isn't.

Without wishing to add to your concerns, it may be that your grandson is gay. I suggest you drop the subject in the name of family harmony.


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