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Monogamy has become the “default” in many parts of society, but the truth is, it is only one way of doing things. And when has that ever actually… worked? Let’s be honest, as a society, whenever we have tried to trap humans inside a singular box, it has alway ended up not being big enough for everyone. It was (and for some people still is) common opinion that love was “between one man and one woman,” and we continue to disprove every part of that statement. The hetero part, the gendered part, the monogamous part… all the parts

Neither monogamy nor polyamory is more valid than the other. It’s whatever floats your boat, and whatever floats your partners’ boats as well. Meaning, in either monogamy or any configuration of polyamory, the keys are consent, communication and respecting boundaries. No relationship will be functional without mutual respect and communication.

Model credits: @sleepy.dove; @ryan_lisa; @valtonjackson;

Producer: Drew Brown @monsieurdrewbrown

Model credits: @sleepy.dove; @ryan_lisa; @valtonjackson;

Producer: Drew Brown @monsieurdrewbrown

Consent, Boundaries, Respect...

Oh my!

People will try to project and impose what respecting your partner looks like, the same way they say that showing skin is “not respecting your body.” In fact, as long as people are adults giving informed consent, no one else gets to decide what is decent. Poly is a beautiful thing: for many, it takes the shape of not limiting love or joy. We humans are here to love each other, and to put a cap on that for romantic and sexual love, or have a possessive exclusive relationship is extremely constricting and toxic. It is about sharing love in a free way for many people. The concept is beautiful, and yet people face stigma from structuring their relationships in a way that works for all parties involved. 

The conversation around poly often becomes about who “agrees” with poly, as if people actually have the choice to either “allow” or “disapprove,” as if they get to stop us from existing as we see fit. For this writer, that conversation becomes about someone's understanding of consent and boundaries. People are not taught to question their own boundaries, to question structures built around them, and most devastatingly, they are not taught that they can say yes or no to things based on their comfort level. Many people have never asked themselves what makes them feel unsafe or insignificant.

Getting to know yourself, for real

In Kel Walters’ TEDx talk (link), she talks about polyamory in tandem with emotional literacy: meaning, the communication we have with our own emotions. “Polyamory is really good at building emotional literacy, because there is no “normal” in polyamorous relationships.” Being in poly relationships asks us to be in touch with our own needs, understand our boundaries, and come to safe compromises with people we love. It is practice in both self advocacy and intentional listening. In fact, even if we are monogamous, the practice of questioning considering options beyond the norm gets us in touch with why we actually do like monogamy. 

Walters goes so far as to say that the skills learned in navigating and negotiating within poly relationships actually makes society better, making the simple point that “Obviously the more emotionally literate you are, the better you are at being able to handle people being different.” She asserts that the poly community is extremely accepting of queerness and gender non-conformity because they are already outside the norm, and I would add that the reverse is true: being poly is often more accepted by queer people. Of course the two do not inherently accompany each other, but the communities do have overlap and also are allies to each other. Both are outside the norm, and once one is outside the norm, letting go of traditional structures that don’t work becomes easier and easier. As Walters puts it, “there is no normal as long as you are not hurting anybody.” 

Model credits: @sleepy.dove; @ryan_lisa; @valtonjackson;

Producer: Drew Brown @monsieurdrewbrown

Photographer Statement

"Love is complex. Relationships can be multifaceted - they can be all encompassing or compartmentalized. They can heal, maim, invigorate, deplete… I wanted to create a series of images that conjured the curiosity and emotions around the implication of polyamory. 

Our models for this shoot were everything from close friends to strangers who met for the first time that day. They came together with open minds and hearts to represent the beauty of queerness and the possibilities of compersion and I will forever appreciate and love them for that. 

I am very proud of these photos and hope they foster feelings of hope, freedom and the playful, ethereal evolution that is the human condition." -E

The dreamers' utopia

In this shoot labeled “The Dreamers,” we imagine the future of relationship structure, of freedom, alongside people like Kel Walters. She makes the point that abolishing one structure as the norm will lead us to each go inward, and see what we actually want, and will increase emotional literacy across the board. In her eyes, it could help us with crisis response, being able to “actually get something done in politics” by actually communicating with ourselves, and compromising with others. As she says, there are infinite forms of love and that is so beautiful. Destigmatizing polyamory in its many forms is part of this utopian future: not only does it create space for all individuals to navigate love how they see fit, it also seeks to abolish the idea of a norm, so that no matter how we choose to be with our partner(s), it is an active choice that we have considered. We don’t want another “comphet” on our hands, and right now, I do believe we have “compulsory monogamy.” Nothing is wrong with any place on the spectrum, but the assumption of one as inherent and the other as alternative does damage to every individual in society. 

Keep an eye out for open submissions as we move forward!