Justin's HIV Journal

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Justin presents Polyamory and Leather 101

One of the most interesting relationship models and types is polyamory.  Poly means many and amor means love.  One could conclude that polyamory is the act of having many loves.  Or relationships with multiple, mutually consenting partners.  There are many dynamics to polyamory.  There could be a Triad where there are three partners that are all mutually romantic or involved with each other, or something all a V formation where there is one person dating or romantically involved with two other people, but those two other people are not dating or romantically involved with each other.  Polyamory can have many designs and formations.  I personally know many men and women involved in such relationships that are both HIV positive and negative.  What I want to do here and now is dispel some myths when stigmatizing persons who are polyamory.  After interviewed some polyamorist, I found some of the answers very interesting. 

Polyamory is not about sleeping with everyone:  I spoke to persons that were in a poly relationship who were HIV positive and one of their many responses had to deal with persons thinking they spread Sexually Transmitted Illnesses (STIs).  Most poly relationship use safer sex because of the level of trust that is needed when being in a poly relationship.  For thoughs people that think that promiscuity is the basis of polyamory, they are wrong.  Safety should be your priority to all of your partners.

Communication is key when talking about medical issues:  In any relationship it is important for people to have an open line of communication.  It is even more important because there can be more “moving parts” to a poly relationship (see what I did there lol).  It is paramount that everyone be on the same page when it come to discussing medical issues.  People that would like to start having a poly relationship should definitely have a condom talk or a PrEP discussion.  Basically, you want to talk about how you want to protect yourself and your other partners.  In a article by Alex Williams (2008) he interviews Ed Vessel, a cognitive neuroscientist who lives in Brooklyn who stated, “Toothbrush disputes are the least of it. In the era of safe sex and cellphones, a life that seems to promise boundless sex in fact involves lots of talking. And talking. And talking”.

 It’s not a free for all: It’s not about orgies or about people inviting all that want to have sex with them with their partners.  Basically, if your interested in an already existing polyamorous relationship ask to see if they are even interested in adding another partner, being sexually involved with someone else or even if one of the partners would like to go on a date.  Either direction that is pursued a talk has and probably will happen on medical history, as it should. 

Poly people are more likely to spread HIV/STI:  Polyamorist are more likely to play safer than most.  They are committed to their partners and know the stakes at risk for everyone involved.  There are people that are both HIV positive and negative in polyamorist relationship.  A lot of the people I spoke with were on PrEP and/or used a condom.  According to the The Journal of Sexual Medicine article written by Justin Lehmiller (2015), “Although consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships are presumed to be far riskier for partners' sexual health compared with monogamous relationships, the disparity between them may be smaller than assumed. A growing body of research finds that many partners who have made monogamy agreements cheat, and when they do, they are less likely to practice safe sex than CNM partners”

Poly relationships can stand the test of time: Ever seen the movie, “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)”? The movie is about Dr. William Moulton Marston the creator of Wonder Women and his relationships with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and their partner Olive Byrne.  They were in a romantic Triad for years and stood against discrimination and bigotry.  Dr. Marston died of skin cancer Olive would die at age 85 and Elizabeth at the age of 100.  The point is that they stayed together happily for the rest of their days.  There is also the story of Bob, Don and Keith, which was a story published by ImFromDriftwood (2015) Bob met Don in 1966, and then met Keith five years later in 1971. After being together for 46 years, they had to say goodbye to Don, but he and Keith remain.  HIV does not have to define our relationships, we define though relationships for ourselves and by who we are with. 

Most people have a little apprehension contemplating taking the first step into a community that celebrates Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, submission, Sadism and masochism but the reality is that the people in our kinky community are some of the most caring people I have ever met.
The quality of the information available about the BDSM Lifestyle varies radically. As you seek out information about "what it is we do", I have this advice for you:

The most accurate and generally accepted information will be found in traditionally published books by recognized authors.

The next best information will come from dedicated and well-recognized websites, and in educational offerings at conventions that are well regarded by the community.

Less accurate and often contradictory information will be found in group discussions, social networking sites, and local educational offerings. This information is seldom vetted and is more likely to be someone’s opinion, conjecture or untested hypothesis rather than generally accepted fact.
The best education is often found in a relationship with a good mentor in your local community. Finding a good mentor is like the problem of finding a good mechanic when you don't yet know much about cars. Take the time to educate yourself about our lifestyle first, starting with the many books available.

Ultimately, you want the knowledge and skill that will allow you to practice BDSM safely, and to build the type of relationships you desire.
Publications (online or in print)

Leatherati explores our unique lifestyle of contests and titleholders, travel and events, dining and drinking, entertainment and shopping and of course, news and opinion. Leatherati is based in LA.
The Leather Journal reports on events and news about the lifestyle
LetherViews by Jack Rinella 

bannon.com Intelligent information, ideas and insights about the adventurous side of sex and relationships.

Social Organizations

The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) is a NYC based, not-for-profit organization which promotes sexual liberation for all adults. Especially for people who enjoy consensual BDSM. It is the oldest such organization in the nation.

The Society of Janus is a San Francisco based, not-for-profit education and support organization. It is the second oldest such organization in the nation.
Black Rose is a Washington, DC based, not-for-profit organization which provides a forum for the many different expressions of power in love and play. This can include dominance & submission, bondage & discipline, sadism & masochism, fetishism, cross-dressing, to name a few.

The Arizona Power Exchange (APEX) is a not-for-profit corporation that provides education, social opportunities, and support for adults who are interested in Bondage and Discipline
Desert Dominion is an educational and social group whose focus is providing information and education for people interested in the BDSM lifestyle
Avatar is a LA based private non-profit educational and social club established in 1983 for gay men with an interest in BDSM. We teach safe, sane and consensual BDSM techniques to anyone interested in learning.

smOdyssey is a membership organization located in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Club X, Inc. is San Diego's largest pansexual leather/ BDSM fetish group. Our primary goal is that of education with secondary goals of activism and social activities
Masters And slaves Together, International (MAsT) exists as an education, support and resource group for individuals involved in, or interested in, the Master/slave lifestyle. The local chapters list will direct you to the many local chapters of MAsT.

Informational Websites

DomSubFriends is an East Coast members only pan-sexual group, who share interests in the S&M, BDSM, D/s, and B/D scene.
Comprehensive Internet Directory maintained by DomSubFriends group; many of the links are dated but there is a wealth of information here.
Sexuality.org maintained by Society for Human Sexuality has a variety of sexual resources including some BDSM information

The BDSM Events Page Lists local and national events
LeatherWeb states that it is a lifestyle site "for the curious and the committed" it is not an easy read but there seem to be many nuggets of value including notes from classes and presentations. I am sure it will continue to grow and develop.

Educational Offerings

The Butchmanns Experience is an intensive educational weekend designed to provide an opportunity for self-discovery in pursuit of self-actualization. The event includes hands-on training in basic SM practices, protocol and rituals, and a view of leadership and obedience through the lens of Master/slave dynamics.
Kink Academy is a comprehensive library of sex-ed videos for adventurous, consenting adults. Whether you’re new to kink or an experienced player, there’s something for everyone to learn on KinkAcademy.com.

Social Action Organizations

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) fights for sexual freedom and privacy rights for all adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior.
Kink Aware Professionals Directory (KAP) is a service offered by NCSF dedicated to providing the community with referrals to psychotherapeutic, medical, legal and other professionals who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to diverse expressions of sexuality.
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance has been hard at work to combat the prohibition of pleasure, the rollbacks on hard-won freedoms and protections and to advance an agenda that recognizes the wonderful diversity of sex, sexuality and our rights to make informed, consensual choices in our lives.

CARAS is dedicated to the support and promotion of excellence in the study of alternative sexualities, and the dissemination of research results to the alternative sexuality communities, the public, and the research community.
The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University works towards advancing sexual health and knowledge worldwide. For over 60 years, the institute has been a trusted source for investigating and informing the world about critical issues in sex, gender and reproduction.
The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country
The Carter/Johnson Leather Library is a collective history of various communities who have chosen to live and love differently.
Leather Archives & Museum mission is the compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather lifestyle and related lifestyles [including but not limited to the Gay and Lesbian communities], history, archives and memorabilia for historical, educational and research purposes.
The Leather Leadership Conference (LLC) is an organization dedicated to strengthening the Leather/BDSM/Kink/Fetish community through the development of the leadership skills of community members and fostering a greater sense of connection between and within community groups

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS) collects, preserves, and interprets the history of GLBT people and the communities that support theCenter for Sex and Culture provides judgment-free education, cultural events, a library/media archive, and other resources to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum. From our San Francisco home we promote creativity, information and healthy sexual knowledge.
Links below open in another window or tab.
Fetlife.com --- FetLife is free and one of the larges of this kind of site. It is said that to keep from deteriorating into a meat market as other similar sites have, they decided to restricted searches for other users.

Recon.com --- Free to join but requires payment for many features
Collarme.com --- Free site has good search and free mail
Bondage.com --- Free to join but requires payment for many features
Alt.com --- Free to join but requires payment for many features
Kinkyspace.com A free Social Networking Site for Kinky Friends
Twitter.com --- Run searched for BDSM, Bondage, Shabari
BDSM.com --- Free

ImDriftwood (2015 January 28) Polyamorous Relationship Lasts 46 Years. "We Shared So Many Memories Together." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgMtSQtV1j8
Lehmiller, J. J. (2015). A comparison of sexual health history and practices among monogamous and consensually nonmonogamous sexual partners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(10), 2022-2028.
Williams, A. (2008). Hopelessly Devoted to You, You and You. The New York Times, October 3, 2008.