Tag Archives: Words

A selection of Venetian carnival masks

Abuse in (poly) relationships: A link roundup

[Photo above is of Venetian masks — what sort of masks might we be wearing in relationship? Is it possible to safely unmask abusers in our communities?]

Sometimes in polyamory (and other forms of “ethical non-monogamy”), there are things we need to talk about that aren’t much fun. Over the past few months, there’s been a conversation going on about one such topic, that of abuse and predators within the poly community. It’s a challenging conversation in part because people have a desire to separate themselves from it (e.g., “oh that’s not [polyamory/ethical non-monogamy/whatever]; that’s just [cheating/abuse/creepy behavior]”.) All sorts of relationships can be done healthily, or unhealthily. There are abusive monogamous relationships, as well as healthy ones, and there are abusive polyamorous relationships, as well as healthy ones. No relationship style has a lock on either “healthy” or “unhealthy.”

However, in trying to distinguish that not all polyamorous relationships are abusive — which is a normal and natural desire! — we can sometimes, unwittingly, create a situation in which people who are doing these “bad behaviors” can hide out, flourish, and have a perfect place in which to prey on their victims.  There are things about polyamory that make it sometimes more likely that abuse can happen, and there are other ways in which polyamory can complicate an already existing situation.  So how do we talk about this sort of thing, and what sort of response should the community have, when such situations arise?

This is the topic of an upcoming discussion in our local East Bay Poly Potluck community, As background for this discussion, I’m providing some links to discussions that have been ongoing all around the US on this topic in the past few months. There’s a lot I could say about a lot of them, but I’m mostly just presenting them as a list of links.  In a couple of cases there’s a tiny bit of commentary, drawn from the Poly Leadership Network list, where several lively discussions have been ongoing.  Mostly, though, I’m just presenting the links for you to read, digest, and make up your own mind about.

Please be gentle with yourself as you read these. Some accounts can be triggery. Please be mindful of the trigger warnings on some pages, if that applies to you. Take time, take breaks, go for walks; whatever you need to do to keep yourself grounded and safe.  It’s important reading, but equally important that you remain internally safe, as well as externally.

Continue reading

Morning Glory Zell

Remembering Morning Glory Zell, 1948 – 2014

I’d intended to continue my series of 5 Ways to Meet Poly/Open People today.  But life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  Instead, today I’m taking the time to commemorate Tuesday’s passing of Morning Glory Zell, Pagan Priestess, author, and (co-)originator of the word “polyamorous.”  Many others will tell her story more fully, and with more historical references. I’ll be telling the ways in which she affected me personally, and how she intersected with my experiences of both Paganism and Polyamory.

Meeting Morning Glory

Morning Glory had an impact on my life long before I knew it. I first met her in the late 80’s or early 90’s, up at Annwfn, the Church of All Worlds retreat center outside of Ukiah, CA. Continue reading

Poly Pi Flag

Pi Day! — Fly Your Poly Pride Flag High!

Friday 3/14 is a day beloved of geeks everywhere.  It’s “pi” Day!  The date when — at least in the United States — the calendar is an approximation of “pi”, a mathematical constant: 3/14, or 3.14:

π (pronounced pie, written as pi) is a constant. Its approximate value is 3.14159, or 22/7.
r is the radius of the circle. It is equal to half the diameter.
πr² means pi times the square of the radius of the circle, which equals the area of the circle.

Pi day has in recent years morphed into “Pie Day,” when geeks revel in eating many kinds of pie… sometimes while reciting pi to ridiculous numbers of decimal points.  (If that’s your style, you can find 10,000 digits of pi on this web page.)  It’s also the day when MIT college applicants receive their admission letters.

But what has all of this got to do with polyamory?  I’m glad you asked!  It’s because one of the polyamory symbols is the “Poly Pride Flag”:

The poly pride flag consists of three equal horizontal colored stripes with a symbol in the center of the flag. The colors of the stripes, from top to bottom, are as follows:

  • Blue – The openness and honesty among all partners.
  • Red – Love and passion.
  • Black – Solidarity with those who must hide their relationships due to social pressures.

The symbol in the center of the flag is a gold Greek lowercase letter “pi” (π), as the first letter of “polyamory”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory, retrieved 3/13/14

So in a manner of speaking, “pi” day is also a day for polyamorous people everywhere!  Wear your pi symbols with pride, and eat pie with gusto, sharing them liberally with your polyamorous family and communities.  Because we’re all about the sharing, dontcha know. 😉

Make pi(e), not war!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Don’t have anything with the polyamory pi flag on it (but want some)?  Head on over to my Zazzle store — http://www.zazzle.com/LoveOutsideTheBox* —  and you’ll find a wide variety of pi-flag themed items for sale, as well as a few other things with my own “Love Outside the Box” logo. (Tip: Get 17% off everything in honor of next Monday’s St. Patrick’s Day using code STPATDAY2014 at checkout.)

 

PPS;  And because I can’t resist, here’s a silly pi joke. One day in math class, the teacher asked “what is the formula for determining the area of a circle?”  One enterprising girl’s hand shot up, and she replied, “pi r squared!” From the back of the room, another voice said, with scorn, “that’s stupid!  Everyone knows pie aren’t square!  Pie are ROUND!”

[Guess which kid passed geometry?]

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World

a poem by Dawn Davidsonwarning sign above Furzy Cliff

when do you know you’ve come to the edge of the world?
is there a sign
carved into stone
into wood
into hearts?

does it hurt when you fall
off the edge?
wind whistling by from the speed of descent
into shadow and depths?

how do you know
you’ve left the path
ventured too far
to turn back
without leaving marks
from your passing?

where is that invisible line?
the chain
the rope
the whisper
beyond which lies
all things changed and changing?

–Dawn Davidson
© 5/23/09

A recent post in Facebook by Veronica Monet spurred me to post this poem I wrote a few years ago, about boundaries, in particular that “liminal space” where things are changing from one thing to the next.  Veronica referenced the article “Monogamous, Except Online” and asked the question “What about you? Do you consider online sex to be “cheating” or is it harmless fun?”  My answer there:

“Cheating” is breaking one’s agreements, whatever those are. So if you and your partner/s have an agreement not to have sex of any kind, even virtually, with someone else, then yes, it would be cheating. For me personally, I don’t have that sort of agreement, and it’s more about whether I feel like I’m hiding something from my partner, or vice versa. If I am able to be open with my partner, and not feel that “oh, I’m doing something wrong” feeling, and if they are able to hear about what I’m doing (online or elsewhere), and be ok with it (possibly even enthusiastic!), then it’s not “cheating,” and I know everything is ok. If they have a negative reaction, or if I feel “weird” or “furtive” about what I’m doing, then it’s a call to be in better communication with my partner.

So what about you?  How do you know that you’ve come to “the edge of the world”?  What kinds of Agreements do you have … or not?  Do you prefer fences? a sign? guards? a guided tour? or complete freedom? As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, either here, in Facebook, or in email (LoveOTB@gmail.com).  And if you’d like to talk about Agreements as a path to safety, or any other topic related to polyamory, love, and relationships, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and tools with you.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  I’m running a summer coaching special, so now’s a great time to contact me by email, or call me (510-686-3386), and save 30% on a package. Find out how to make your relationships happier, safer, and more fulfilling! 🙂

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Polyamory and Polygamy: Compare and Contrast

letter-writing1

Occasionally I get some interesting letters.  Recently, I was contacted by a High School Honors student seeking information for a paper. Here’s what the student wrote:

Hello, […] I am currently working on a research paper on polygamy. I found your information on the lovemore.com website and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer the following questions.

  1. How does dating work in a polygamist relationship?

  2. Did you choose to be a polygamist? If so what made you choose to be a polygamist?

  3. Did you grow up in a polygamist family? If not how does being a polygamist affect your non-polygamist family?

  4. How do the children interact with multiple mothers?

  5. How does being a polygamist child affect childhood?

  6. Do you have to be a certain religion to be a polygamist?

  7. What are your feelings on Warren Jeffs?

  8. Do you believe that Warren Jeffs is the reason polygamy is illegal in some states?

  9. How does being a polygamist affect your day to day life?

  10. Why do you believe polygamy is illegal in multiple states?

  11. Does polygamy being illegal affect your day to day life?

  12. Is there anything that you think that I should know about polygamy in order to write my paper?

Thank you for taking time to read my email and answering my questions

This email, while clearly interested in the topic and asking some worthwhile questions, shows the vast gulf in understanding in the general public of what polyamory and polygamy actually are.

Oops! Road sign

Here’s my response:

Dear [    ]:

I’ve been debating how to answer your questions since your first message.  The issue, you see, is that you have contacted the wrong person to answer the questions you’ve asked.  I’m not a polygamist.  I practice *polyamory*. Here’s a quick definition:

Polyamory =
poly (derived from the Greek for ‘many’)
+
amory (derived from the Latin for ‘love’)

In other words,

Polyamory is the belief in and/or practice of multiple loving relationships, with the full knowledge and consent of those involved.

Polyamory and polygamy are not the same thing, though they share the same Greek root meaning “many.”  Polygamy, however, shares the root “gamy” with the word “monogamy,” which refers to human marriage customs.  (See more here: http://www.affixes.org/g/-gamy.html)

You can read more about my definition of polyamory at this blog entry:
http://blog.loveoutsidethebox.com/?p=1147

If you’d like to know more about polyamory, you might want to look up some of the resources (websites, books, etc.) on this list:

http://blog.loveoutsidethebox.com/?page_id=114

For more on the distinction between polyamory and polygamy, see the informative web page “Polygamy and Polyamory” a brochure by the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness: http://www.uupa.org/Literature/PolygamyComparison.htm
Best wishes on your paper,

Dawn

LoveOTB_DkPurp_72px_Clip

In addition to that letter, I’ve also compiled a DRAFT of a table highlighting some of the similarities and differences between polyamory and polygamy.  I’ve been hesitant to publish it, in part because I haven’t yet run it by any representatives from the groups discussed (other than polyamorists, where I’ve run the paper by some researchers into polyamory, a few months ago.) So if you, dear reader, identify with any of these groups, and you find areas that you feel need improvement, please do bring the matter/s to my attention (gently, if you can!) I wish to provide this list as a starting point for thought and discussion, not as a prescription for division.  I myself am not a social scientist and do not claim to be an “academic.”  The references and suggested readings listed are also not meant to be an exhaustive list, but instead a starting place for further research.

 

Polyamory

Polygamy
(as popularly understood in US;
aka religious polygyny) (1)

Some similarities

Multiple adult partners Multiple adult partners
Deserving of human rights Deserving of human rights
Stigmatized and misunderstood Stigmatized and misunderstood
Lack of governmental or social recognition of family status Lack of governmental or social recognition of family status

 

Some differences

Egalitarian (shared power in relationship) Patriarchal (decisions and responsibility reserved to male head of family)
Structure not based in organized religion (though practitioners may be religious and/or spiritual) Structure originates in religious doctrine or belief
Any combination and number of genders in relationship structure Relationship structure limited to 1 man, multiple women
Mostly not prohibited in the US (2) Mostly prohibited in the US (3)
About love/romantic relationships About marriage relationships
Long-term commitment optional Long-term commitment a requirement
May be sexually open (individuals in the relationship may or may not have additional sexual relationships outside of the polyamorous relationship under discussion) Always sexually closed (individuals within the relationship may only have sex within the relationship)
Same gender sexual relationships may be allowed Heterosexual relationships only
Allows for gender fluidity and other non-normative gender expressions Binary gender expression only
Relationship focused (May or may not consider themselves part of a family) Family-focused

© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson

(1) Other forms of polygamy exist worldwide that are not based in religious doctrine or belief. This table does not address those and is not meant to imply that they either don’t exist, nor that they are the same as the religious form of polygamy discussed here. This table exists primarily to clarify the most common misperception of polyamory being “the same as polygamy,” as represented by, for instance the TV shows “Big Love” or “Sister Wives.”

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_polygamy and http://jezebel.com/5981095/polyandry-is-actually-way-more-popular-than-anthropologists-have-thought

(2) Cohabiting polyamorous groups may be prohibited by bigamy laws in some states, e.g., Utah.  See also http://non-monodiscourse.blogspot.com/

(3) Some Christian polygamy groups advocate marrying and then getting a legal divorce in order to create a “spiritual marriage” only. This form of polygamy (in essence, a form of serial marriage) would be legal in the US. (Source: http://www.christianpolygamy.com/)

For more information, see also:

“Polygamy and Polyamory” a brochure by the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness: http://www.uupa.org/Literature/PolygamyComparison.htm

 

Do you have anything to add to this table?  Any great references, important line items, or any comments or questions? As always, feel free to contact me on my Love Outside the Box webpage, to comment below, or to visit my Facebook page, LoveOTB. I welcome your discussion and feedback.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well,

~♥ Dawn

love_is_ok_rainbow_heart_tshirt

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

2 Lists of 5 Ways to Fail in Polyamory

signposts

“There’s no One Right Way to be Polyamorous, but there are plenty of Wrong ways!”
Miss Poly Manners

Polyamorous people are often known to proclaim that one of the advantages of being poly is that there is no “One Right Way” to do it.  This allows us the freedom to create our own “designer relationships,” that fit the needs and wants of the individual partners, rather than trying to shoehorn ourselves into a set of “standard” or “societal” expectations that don’t. This is great in theory, but sometimes falls down in practice.* And it turns out Miss Poly Manners is right about all the ways that there are to be wrong.

Deborah Anapol (author of Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, in a recent article in Psychology Today, lists “Five Ways Polyamory Can Fail”:

Pitfall #1  Using the same words to mean different things
Pitfall #2  Taking on more relationships than you actually have time and energy for
Pitfall #3  Agreeing to polyamory and then having a “secret” affair
Pitfall #4  Making promises you can’t keep
Pitfall #5  Trying to transition quickly and smoothly from being discovered engaging in a secret affair to creating an open relationship

You’ll want to read the rest of the article for more detailed information, since (as usual) she has some good observations.  The first thing I noticed, though, is that Anapol’s list overlaps with my own 5 Reasons Agreements Fail (from my “KISSable Agreements” workbook series) in a couple of areas.  Here’s my list:

Five Reasons Agreements Fail (from “KISSable Agreements,” by Dawn Davidson)

1) Simply Forgetting
2) Missed Contingency
3) Differing Interpretations of the Agreement
4) Agreement Was Not Additive
5) Agreement Simply Can’t Work

You can see that in her Pitfall #1 and my Reason #3, we both talk about making sure that when you’re using the same words, you’re actually talking about the same thing!  I also cover some of this ground in Tip #2a, in the sub-section “Avoid Ambiguous Terms.”

Anapol also suggests in Pitfall #4 that “making promises you can’t keep” is a surefire way to have Polyamory fail.  I agree, and I think it doesn’t apply just to polyamory, but to any Agreements (whether it’s in a polyamorous context or not.) As you can see above, Reason #5 that Agreements can fail is the “Agreement Simply Can’t Work,” (aka “I just shouldn’t have agreed to that”.) It covers situations where you thought you could agree to something and found out later that it’s beyond your capacity to do so, or where some other Agreement got in the way (maybe one to another person that you forgot about in the moment, or that you weren’t completely clear about at the time.)  Whether or not you intended to keep the Agreement, though, the fact is that you can’t … and that means you made a promise you couldn’t keep (i.e., fell into Pitfall #1.)

The 5 Reasons posts aren’t up yet (sorry for the delay!), but all of the Agreements Workbook Entries I’ve already posted are here: http://blog.loveoutsidethebox.com/?tag=workbook. I’ll have the first of the 5 Reasons posts (on the topic of Caveats and Assumptions) up tomorrow (Sat 2/2). :^)

In the meantime, I’m very curious to know… what reasons have YOU experienced that caused your poly relationships or Agreements to fail? What did you do to recover when those happened?  As always, feel free to comment below, contact me via my webpage, or on my Facebook Page, Love Outside The Box.

relationships.demotivator

May all your poly (or other) relationships succeed more often than they fail!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Did you know I’m running a Valentine’s Day special on my coaching packages? If you’d like to talk more about how your Agreements are working (or aren’t!), I’d be happy to set up a time to meet in person (in the SF Bay Area), by phone, or via some other remote means (e.g., Skype).

 

[*That brings up a favorite joke of mine: Q: What’s the difference between theory and practice? A:  In theory, there isn’t one, but in practice, there is!]

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

[See the Table of Contents for the Agreements Workbook Series]

[Return to the first text entry in the Agreements Workbook series]

RISK Motivational Poster

The Time for Love is NOW

This has been a hard week. I am surrounded by loss, impending and tangible. The impending loss is of a personal nature, and involves me facing my own mortality in the mirror of my parents.  The already-tangible loss involves several deaths I’ve heard of so far in the last few days.  In particular, the loss of community members Brian Baker and Adam Griffiths has hit many of us very hard. Adam was not someone I knew well, but Brian was a friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed, and many of us are grieving this week, for both of them.

These losses and changes bring up fears. Fears of my own mental and emotional stabilities, for instance.  Will I, like my grandmother and my mother, also face the gradual eroding of my self and my memories? Will it change my personality, or render me incapable of self-care? Even if that’s not my fate, I might have something happen to me (as with my father) that takes some portion of who I am, and leaves me permanently altered. How would I handle that?  Would I still be ME? And even if THAT doesn’t happen… we never know how many days are left to us, as is so clear in the passing of these incredibly vital friends, taken “at their peak,” as many shared at a memorial gathering the other night.

We never know what will happen. For me, this stirs up thoughts about risk and safety. Far from driving me to take fewer risks, it tends to make me feel guilty for NOT having taken MORE, for not having been bolder and stronger, for not having gotten my work out sooner. I try to be gentle with myself (it’s a lot of grief, and a lot to process, after all), at the same time I’m feeling driven ahead by this sense of urgency.

I wrote this to someone privately today:

“Safety” is an illusion, ultimately. It’s a FEELING within ourselves. We
have control over our decisions to proceed, in spite of or considering
risks. Choosing a lower risk activity or course doesn’t not, however,
generally mean NO risk… and therefore may still result in “unsafety.”
There are no guarantees in life, no matter how “safe” one tries to be.

A common motivational poster says:

RISK Motivational Poster

“A ship in a harbor is safe… but that’s not what ships are for.”

Being wholly and fully alive, living your purpose in every moment …
that is, in my opinion, far better than attempting to play it safe, and
ending your life unfulfilled. I honor and cherish your goal to use good
accomplishments to fuel your desire for a positive world.

So mote it be. 🙂

Love is also a risk.

It’s a risk to dare to connect with others, when we don’t know the outcome. It’s a risk to love in the face of rejection.  It’s a risk to love in our own way, despite the real potential for stigma or censure.  But thing is…

We never know if there will be a tomorrow.

So I’m urging you now, my friends, my family, my colleagues, and all you relationship explorers out there (whether I’ve met you yet or not):  Take your relationSHIP out of the harbor. Even if it scares you, even if you don’t know how it could possibly succeed, even if you are afraid of failing, or that someone might hate you for who or how many you love.  Take the risk.  Love boldly.

Tell everyone you love how much they mean to you. Pick up the phone, write an email, go into the next room and give them a hug. Send an old-fashioned letter!  Even if your relationship is strained, if you can, try to imagine how you might feel if suddenly, tomorrow, they were gone, and your words of love were left unsaid. Would you regret it? Then speak love to them, now. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean approving of everything they do, by the way. Sometimes loving someone is an act of will! or an exercise in choosing your words carefully. :^) But if that feeling is there (even a tiny bit), then in my opinion it’s worth sharing, now, in this moment… because now is the only time we have.

The time for love is NOW.

Dawn

PS: I love you. :^)

F

Poly As ID; Poly Living 2013; Harvard OKs Kink Club on Campus

Following on the discussions about polyamory as identity (or not): Dan Savage posted a few good comments from poly folk who believe that it’s possible to identify as poly and/or have poly as an orientation. Dan’s ability to take a step back and say “hey, I might be wrong here” is a big part of why many folks I know (me included) don’t just write him off altogether (despite some serious concerns about potential bigotry). Not sure he’s exactly saying that here, but at least he’s admitting that there might be another perspective, so that’s progress.

Poly Living 2013 banner

8th Annual Poly Living Conference, Feb 8-10, 2013

While I”m here, I’ll share the link to information about the upcoming Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, February 8-10, 2013. They’ve got a great line-up of speakers, including a Keynote from Kamala Devi, lately one of the stars of the Showtime series “Polyamory: Married and Dating.”  Other presenters include Bay Area local Charles August, as well as a stellar line-up of presenters from around the country. Especially if you’re on the East Coast, you’ll want to consider attending this great conference.

And did you see the recent news from Harvard?  They’ve allowed an official Kink club on campus! I think this is great news for the wider world of alternative sexuality, and sex-positivity. For me, it begs the question, however, of whether polyamory is a “kink” at least for the purposes of this club?  What do you think?  Feel free to comment here, in private mail, or in my Facebook!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Got Jealousy? Schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me, and get my Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself.  Because jealousy is no fun!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

YES written in a notebook in pen

21 Reasons to Be Yourself (and Other Thoughts on Identities)

“I’m speaking up for those who feel lost and alone, and who’ve been rejected by others for core pieces of their being, whether that’s paganism, poly, their bodies, kink, or whatever. I’m here to say “you are not alone,” and “you are fine, just the way you are,” and hand them some tools and roadmaps.”
— Dawn Davidson, Nov. 30, 2012

Over the past week and some I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of Identity. Some of this thinking was, of course, spurred by Dan Savage and his post about how he doesn’t think that polyamory can be an identity. In his world, it’s just something you do, not something you are.  As discussed elsewhere, I disagree with him (though of course Your Mileage May Vary.)

But that’s not the only thing that has me thinking about Identity. See, there’s been a kerfluffle in my world that affects my recent ordination. It’s mostly not even about me, but instead, about my sponsoring priestess.  Apparently, They (the powers that be in the organization through which we were both ordained) became quite concerned with the fact that my sponsoring priestess both practices and teaches Sacred BDSM (aka Sacred Kink — see here for the excellent book on the topic, Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of BDSM And Beyond, by Lee Harrington.) The reasons for this are several, but the biggest reason appears to be that They have conflated what my sponsoring priestess does, with what happened at the Sedona Temple earlier this year. Please understand that I have nothing against Tantra either (I practice Western Tantra myself and recommend it as a path of connection for individuals, couples and even groups in some situations). What my sponsoring priestess does is a) legal, b) ethical, and c) not what brought the Sedona Temple down (which was accusations of prostitution.) Ultimately, the point of the whole thing isn’t the details of what she’s practicing or teaching, but the fact that They took action based on misinformation, incomplete information, and fear. They feared being “tarred with the same brush,” and chose to denounce the whole of BDSM as a whole, rather than having detailed conversations first and taking actions later.

Now, to be fair, some of the situation was exacerbated by a lack of communication and missed communications between the org and my sponsoring priestess. However, I feel that greater efforts at understanding could have been taken before they chose to denounce several personal sexual practices and choices, revoke the ordination of my sponsoring priestess, and invalidate the ordinations of all of her sponsorees (myself included.)

(By the way, I’m continuing at this time to not speak directly about this organization in this public blog, because I’m still hopeful that some sort of rapprochement might be possible. I do not wish to make the situation worse. Additionally, one of Their issues with me in particular was that I had linked to their site using their logo on my own webpage about my ministerial services without first asking permission. Oops, my bad. For now, I’ve removed the offending references pending resolution. However, none of this changes my basic feelings about the situation, and I’m certainly not against anyone with a stake in the matter speaking out about their own experiences and feelings, or writing on behalf of my sponsoring priestess. I’m just trying to not make things unnecessarily worse for myself, or for her. Write me privately if you would like further information, including templates for a letter writing campaign to educate this organization about sacred kink, or to speak out on behalf of my sponsoring priestess in particular.)

It’s also important (in my view anyway) to note that their action (in revoking my ordination and that of all of the sponsorees) does not actually affect either my mission as a counselor, as a priestess/minister, nor does it affect my ability to perform weddings (and other such ceremonies) here in California (and in some other states.) I was ordained on October 10th, 1989, through the Universal Life Church, and I have confirmed with the ULC that they still have a record of that ordination. My ordination through this other organization was intended mostly to create community ties, and a mutual network of support (hence my cross-linking). I’m sad to lose that, of course, but it has no bearing on my legal ability to serve as a priestess/minister.

Even more to the point, as I told them in my response:

I was also VERY clear during the ordination on Oct 7th that I received that transmission from the Goddess herself, and whatever choices are made here on the physical plane in the [national and international organizations], you (collectively) cannot remove from me that Divine blessing and calling to service. I was called into Her service, and in her service I remain, with or without your blessing, acknowledgment, or papers.

Of course, all of this recalls for me my experiences earlier this summer, in which I was asked to hide who I was in order to stay in a particular online course. As I wrote in another letter to the organization:

Honestly, when I wrote my piece “Coming Out About Love,” which described some of my soul searching while preparing for the ordination, I was afraid to post it publicly on my website… but what I feared at the time was getting pushback from the *poly* community about my *spirituality*.  It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that the trouble might be the other way around! And yet, here we are.

… Imagine my dismay to find myself facing what appears to me to be the same core issue in the very pagan organization with which I thought to align myself: prejudice and blatant lack of understanding and compassion regarding personal choice, and the teaching of these personal choices as loving, valid forms of relating.

Here I sit, my friends, with egg on my face about my (mostly private) judgments earlier. I am reminded, forcefully, of the bumper sticker one of my partners used to have on his car, that read:

Fundies are fundies, whether they pray to the Lord or the Goddess.

So I offer my apologies to my Christian — and pagan, atheist, agnostic, etc — friends who are NOT judgmental and/or fearful of things they don’t understand. Thank you to all of you good-hearted folks out there striving to understand and accept things outside of your experience.  I appreciate you so much! Thank you for being yourselves, and allowing the space for others to be themselves as well, even when you don’t fully understand the whys and wherefores.

And to all of you — whatever sort of experiences you may have, and whatever ways you might identify, let me reiterate that you are not alone, and you are OK, just the way you are. Whoever you are and whatever choices you make — so long as those are done in Love and respect, and between consenting adults — that’s totally ok! We don’t all have to like the same things, do the same things, or go the same places.  If we did, the world would be boring, and we’d all be trying to squeeze into the same restaurant.  Ugh!

So in that spirit, let me offer you something I started brainstorming the other night (inspired by the awesome Samantha Bennett again). At the bottom of this post I’ve added 21 Reasons To Be Yourself. I think I’m just getting started on this list, so if you have other reasons to offer, please let me know! Feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’d be happy to add your reasons, too.

Always remember how awesome you are!

~♥ Dawn

PS: If you’re interested in discussing issues around identity (or any other related topic, such as polyamory, kink, jealousy, Agreements, managing new relationship energy, etc), feel free to schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me.  BONUS: For a limited time, each FREE consultation comes with a Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself. Let me know how I can support YOU in being yourself, and speaking your own truth!

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A 21 self-salute:
21 Reasons to be yourself

1) because no one else can do it — you are the only you there is

2) because you have something to say to the world

3) because your children (or your nieces, nephews, little siblings, etc) need you to — how else could you make it safe for them to be *themselves*?

4) because the world needs you to — it’s time for all of us to stop trying to be someone else, and to give up ransacking the world to “keep up with the Joneses”

5) because Deity (God, Goddess, the Universe, your higher self, the FSM…) put you here to do something.  You wouldn’t want to let God — or yourself — down, would you?

6) so all the other people like you don’t feel so much alone

7) because it isn’t anyone else’s business WHO you are, anyway

8) because otherwise, you’ll go to your grave thinking “what if?”

9) because THEY said you can’t do/be/say that

10) because it feeds your soul

11) because it makes you happy. And that’s enough, all by itself. Really.

12) because what if reincarnation is true, and you aren’t yourself this time, and have to come back and do it all over again?

13) because you’re ok — great, even — just the way you are

14) because you look silly in Julia Roberts’ clothes (I mean, unless you’re Julia Roberts, in which case, you look just fine!) Stop trying to be someone you’re not.

15) because otherwise, who’s going to [bake the cookies/fix the car/type the memo] if you’re off wasting energy elsewhere?

16) because somewhere, sometime, someone will be inspired by you

17) because otherwise, the terrorists (internal or external) will have won

18) because it’s a great way to silence that nasty voice in your head that says you’re “less than.”  By definition, nobody can be a better you than you!

19) because otherwise, how will the postal carrier know whom to deliver your mail to?

20) because *you matter*. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions in this world leave a mark in this world.  The lack of them would, too. Choose to make your mark.

21) otherwise, how could your college buddies find you on Facebook?

(Got more reasons to be yourself?  Share them with me!)

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

W

Responses to Dan Savage’s “Poly is not an identity” posts

Well, as others said elsewhere, that was anticlimactic.  Dan Savage posted his “pro-poly-identity” column, following on his letter of last week in which he baldly stated that polyamory is not an identity.  Sadly, what he posted in his actual column was pretty paltry, amounting to a couple of tweets. There are some decent comments buried in the comments section again, though.

So if you want more discussion on this issue, you might want to check out:

Anita Wagner Illig’s Practical Polyamory blog (she also posted this in the comments to Dan’s thread)

Franklin Veaux’ LiveJournal entry “Dan Savage runs off the rails.”

There are a couple of interesting comments in my own comment section in the last post as well.

I’ve got more to say on the topic of identity, but not tonight. 🙂

 

Here’s hoping you are happy with both what you do AND who you are, whatever those are!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Got Jealousy? Schedule a 1/2 hour free consultation with me, and get my Jealousy Judo pdf of tools to use to manage jealousy in yourself.  Because jealousy is no fun!

 

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[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]