Polyamory and sexual subculture in the East Bay

Polyamory was the cover story topic for a recent edition of the alternative Oakland, California newspaper, the East Bay Express. The 3,800-word piece calls polyamory a "veritable subculture" that has grown over time, but questions whether the general public will ever be able to accept it.

The Bay Area in particular, with its long history of free love, its vast network of Burning Man enthusiasts, and its overall progressive ethos, is a natural hotbed for the alternative sex scene. It's a place where avid polyamorists can bring just about anyone into their fold.

Sort of. It turns out that, no matter how successful they've been at negotiating relationships, many polyamorists still have one foot in the closet. And in a world where monogamy is not only well-entrenched but vital to the workings of a property-based society, their scene may always remain marginal.

The article profiles one specific poly relationship and interviews several other people: Christopher Ryan (author of Sex at Dawn), Polly Whittaker (founder of Mission Control), Ned Mayhem, and even Dan Savage. The author does an interesting job of weaving together the threads shared by the poly community and the alternative "sexual underground."

Certainly, not all polyamorists attend sex parties or engage in kink -- many who subscribe to the "open relationship" philosophy still consider themselves fairly vanilla. But the fact that San Francisco has such a vast and well-networked sexual underground benefits them, too, since it makes for a more tolerant environment. It also shows that the alt-sex scene, and by extension, the polyamory scene, isn't just a countercultural fluke.

Read the rest on the East Bay Express.