Annabelle River's picture

The Bureaucracy of "Holy Matrimony"

About six weeks after my wedding, I'm finally getting around to legally changing my name.  Which is a highly personal and arguably an eccentric choice for me to make as a polyamorous feminist. I've heard all the arguments for keeping one's maiden name, and I confess that I have no rational argument against them.  My husband and I are still separate individuals. ...But for a few weeks after the wedding, every time I said, heard, or signed my name with my husband's last name, I did get a kick of girlish glee. It's a cool name.  And now that the novelty is wearing off of it, my maiden name has started sounding increasingly strange to me.

book of blue's picture


Vesta. Photo by Eric Francis.

We were standing in the doorway of her room when the shift had us feeling one another differently. We took a leap above contention and reached a place where we admitted how badly and for how long guilt had stalked us. Through our lives, that is. It felt so good to hear that acknowledged by one I consider sane and loving. I finally had affirmation that my own struggle was not evidence of my being a bad person.

We stood together in the most fragile humility. We understood something new about ourselves and one another, a bond wrought of the deeply private nature of the subject: self condemnation.

“And the fear,” I said. “There is always so much that can go wrong. I could be scared all the time.”

She glanced at me, nodded slowly and said yes.

It felt so good to be with someone who in that moment understood. The fear. I felt then and there that I might go beyond it for the first time; that I could see a way.

book of blue's picture

On the brink of faith

There were many spaces that opened up in the course of our threshold conversation. It was an unusual experience for her and she seemed to go through what many people unaccustomed to ritual experience when they enter that space: linear time and narrative don’t quite hold up. She has asked me to tell the story chronologically as best I can, and I said I would try, though for now I am going to work from theme to theme.

One last subject is asking for a voice. I remember mentioning how it seemed like our journey and our conversation focused on her experience with him, how she is processing it and in making sure that we have a clear understanding that this is an experience in her life that we are experimenting holding space for.

Yet I did not miss that in this conversation, we tend to leave out the possibility of me having the kind of depth and contact that I need, and the sense of a safe container to have it in. I get the feeling that every time the theme of what I need from a relationship comes up directly, she feels guilty that she can’t offer it to me. That would indeed preclude taking the conversation further; at least as a topic to which we give that name. I think it’s essential to give it a name, and to recognize that so much of the fulfillment we get in relationships is from what we have to offer; from feeling like an essential part of someone’s life.

(NSFW Image after break)

Serena Anderlini's picture

We Are Everywhere: A Fiveway Review of A History of Bisexuality, Bisexual Spaces, Look Both Ways, Open, and Becoming Visible (Pt. 5)

By Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio and Jonathan Alexander

Will appear in Bisexuality and Queer Theory, a special-topics issue of The Journal of Bisexuality. Pre-published with permission of Routledge, New York.

Book Five: Beth Firestein’s Becoming Visible: Counseling Bisexuals Across the Lifespan (Columbia University Press, 2007.)

Last but not least, this review will consider the collection Becoming Visible (2007), which was put together for the purpose of empowering the counseling profession to provide health services to people like Jenny, Christopher, Jemma, and others, such that would help them actualize their ideal amorous configurations rather than make them feel guilty for desiring them.

The collection takes the lead from what manifests as the urge that most clients bring to a counselor’s table, rather than what the counseling profession at large might consider appropriate. As editor Beth Firestein announces at the onset of her introduction, “our clients are no longer coming to us because they want to be ‘normal.’ They are coming to us because they want to be whole” (xiii, original emphasis).

As a person who, in principle, does believe in psychotherapy, and who, out of a desire for integrity with her own chosen communities and identities, has practiced individual forms of individual therapy only in the context of co-counseling with members of queer, bi, and poly communities, co-editor Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio could not be more supportive of this kind of endeavor, and hopeful that the very serious studies and research contained in this volume make a significant impact in the profession of psychotherapy, so that more counselors are available to help people like her.

Annabelle River's picture

Sometimes Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

Thank you to Pendard at the Geeky Sex blog for alerting me: Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council just gave a speech to his right-wing base all about polyamory. Of course, very predictably, Christian Evangelical Pat Fagan does not like polyamory; one of his claims is: "In a polemical vein, one could say they 'snatch' children away from their parents and from the culture of monogamy in ways analogous to the Ottoman Turks of the 14th century who raided boys from Christian nations to train them as their own elite warriors, the Janissaries."

I think the youngest person to whom I'm even out as poly is twenty-one, and I don't remember having kidnapped any children lately, but whatever. What thrills me about this speech is: The Family Research Council is helping us with visibility. Because most people have never even imagined the concept that anyone could carry on multiple sexual relationships at the same time honestly.

As I've written here before, more people can wrap their heads around the phrase "open relationship" - but then they make false assumptions about how seriously committed we can be in "open relationships." A massive, massive quantity of Western literature and film has been devoted to the "tragedy" of falling in love with two people and having to decide between them. A massive, massive quantity of Western literature and film depicts people cheating dishonestly, and the "confession" is always a moment of great trauma.

Serena Anderlini's picture

We Are Everywhere: A Fiveway Review of A History of Bisexuality, Bisexual Spaces, Look Both Ways, Open, and Becoming Visible (Pt. 4)

By Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio and Jonathan Alexander



Will appear in Bisexuality and Queer Theory, a special-topics issue of The Journal of Bisexuality. Pre-published with permission of Routledge, New York.

Book Four: Jenny Block’s Open: Love, Sex and Live in an Open Marriage. (Seal Press, 2002.)

Similarly provocative, but in more subdued ways, is Jenny Block’s Open, a narrative about the author’s personal journey through the meanders of social prescriptions, expectations, and clichés, and her endeavor to define herself as a bisexual, polyamorous subject, a woman capable of loving both men and women and of sustaining more than one amorous relationship at once.

Block’s narrative is presented as that of a modern “every(wo)man,” who, in the United States, tries her best to meet social and familial expectations while at the same time continuing her search for what is fulfilling on a deeper level, as well as honest and authentic.

The literary quality of the book is quite impressive, which also speaks well of where bisexual and polyamorous communities are at in the ways of nurturing talent beyond what is merely effective. The prologue, written in the third person, gives a summary of this every(wo)man’s story in paragraphs that then repeat at the opening of each chapter. The story that particularizes the person to whom these things happened comes alive as the first-person narrative of each chapter unfolds.

Serena Anderlini's picture

We Are Everywhere: A Fiveway Review of A History of Bisexuality, Bisexual Spaces, Look Both Ways, Open, and Becoming Visible (Pt. 3)

By Jonathan Alexander and Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio

Will appear in Bisexuality and Queer Theory, a special-topics issue of The Journal of Bisexuality. Pre-published with permission of Routledge, New York.

Book Three: Jennifer Baumgardner’s Look Both Ways. (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2007.)

Both Baumgardner’s and Block’s books come in the feminist tradition of theorizing from the personal, namely of using personal experience to extrapolate theoretical propositions that are not exactly macro-political but nonetheless provide insights applicable well beyond mere identity politics. While Baumgardner’s book uses the personal as a springboard to offer comments on the media and cultural politics, Block’s book is organized as a personal narrative, which, complemented by the author’s reflections about her own story, has the ambition to offer itself as an encouragement for any reader’s personal and political transformation. In both their methods and intents, these books are a refreshing statement about what it means to have had several decades of women’s and gender studies as an official part of higher education.

One can see these disciplines in action as one reads how these authors take pride in their gender and acknowledge the importance of female genealogies in their lives, intellectual, political, and biological. Block and Baumgardner come to bisexuality from different perspectives: Block defines the space of her bisexual expression within the open marriage she and her spouse gradually create together, an amicable space where their daughter is raised with abundant parenting; more faithful to the feminist communities with whom she works, Baumgardner defines her profile as that of an independent professional whose choice to be a single parent is supported by her communities with abundant affection and help.

arvan's picture

Family: A Delightful Polyamory Web Series

Set in a fictional Seattle community of people living a polyamorous life, "Family" centers around the lives of three characters living together in a polyamorous relationship.  The series is written & directed by Terisa Greenan, featuring the music of Christopher Bingham (, and starring Seattle actors Amber Rack, Ernie Joseph and Eric Smiley.

It airs online on their youtube channel (3DogPictures), their facebook group (Family - the webseries), and on their own 3 Dog site and you can view UNCENSORED episodes at:  They air new episodes approximately 2 times per month.  In November, the entire series will be available for purchase from 3 Dog Pictures on DVD.

"Not What the Neighbors Think" - Meet the "family" in this first episode. Gemma, Ben and Stuart are just your typical, polyamorous triad, living in a monogamous world.

h/t to Serena Anderlini for bringing this series to my attention.


arvan's picture

A matrimonial website for transsexual community launched

CHENNAI - Members of transsexual community in Chennai launched the world’s first matrimonial website for their clan. 

A Chennai based transgender Kalki is the director and the founder of the website,, which is one of first websites in the world for transsexual marriages.

Kalki said that the reason why she thought of launching this website was because the profiles of the members of the transsexual community were being rejected by popular matrimonial websites.

“Some of the transsexual ladies wanted to upload their profiles on the popular matrimonial websites in the country and few of them even tried but their profiles were rejected because of the gender identity because they were not the biological women and that is the discrimination. So we wanted to take it in our own hands,” said Kalki.

Transsexuals in India are commonly referred to as ‘hijras’ and often do not fit easily into society.

But widespread superstitions have also accorded them a certain amount of fearful respect, while a handful has been elected to public office.

Singing and dancing bands of sari-clad hijras will often appear, invited or otherwise, at weddings and at the blessing ceremonies of newborn babies. (ANI)

arvan's picture

Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio: Reading and book signing 9/15/09

Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio @ 8pm.

Il Trapezio Cafe/Gallery on 09/15/09

120 Franklin Ave., (near Harrison St.), Nutley, NJ 07110


Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, PhD

"A world where it is safe to live is a world where it is safe to love"

A Reading Hosted by Daniel P. Quinn, Producer Early-Bird Special includes book and standard order

Gaia and the New Politics of Love explains how to practice the arts of loving as a form of the arts of healing, which includes creating and sustaining amorous communities through shared amorous resources. Practicing the arts of loving activates the cycle of oxytocin in the human brain (the so-called "cuddling" hormone) that enables people to trust each other, display amorous behavior with one another, and cooperate in solving problems, thereby creating sustainability in their environments and communities. Through the practice of these new politics of loving we can transform hatred into love, fear into hope, and scarcity into abundance.

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