Politics & Policy

Polyamorists Come Out of the Closet

Amid increasing tolerance for non-traditional relationship, non-monogamy loses its stigma.

Polyamorists are coming out of the closet.

Non-monogamists have remained largely underground to avoid social disapproval, but increasing national acceptance of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) relationships have encouraged some polyamory supporters to go public about their growing communities.

Leon Feingold, co-president of Open Love NY and a licensed real estate broker with Masonic Realty, confirmed Tuesday that 13 of 15 apartments have been rented in Brooklyn, NY at Hacienda Villa, an apartment complex dedicated to the polyamorous and to those who accept polyamory.

Feingold told National Review Online that there is “absolutely” a growing trend of openness in the polyamorous community and of accepting attitudes toward it. He added, “A lot of people have misconceptions about what polyamory is.”

“Polyamory” does not refer either to polygamy or to a “swinging” lifestyle but to “responsible non-monogamy,” Feingold explained. Open Love NY is a New York-based organization for the polyamorous community. It plans various educational and social events for its members and encourages “a public climate in which all forms of consensual adult relationship choices are respected and honored.”

A frequently cited estimate of the number of U.S. polyamorous households is 500,000, which first appeared in a 2009 Newsweek article but has since been removed (the article was last updated in July 2011).

Diana Adams, the other co-president of Open Love NY and a founding partner of a New York City law firm serving LGBTQ and non-traditional clients, has worked with polyamorous households. Sometimes she helps draw up agreements between married poly clients to prevent marital problems from arising because of their sexuality.

The policy concerns for poly community generally regard securing domestic partnerships among the members of a polyamorous relationship. Some of Adams’s poly clients want to opt out of the adultery ground for divorce and do so in out-of-court contracts.

“At this point, polyamorous people are not seeking to redefine marriage as a whole for all Americans,” Adams told NRO. “They are seeking to find stability within existing legal institutions, with creative use of the law as it is now.”


The most common cases involving polyamorous lifestyles are child custody cases, Adams said. A parent’s sexuality can be used against him or her in court, particularly if the other parent argues that it is evidence of poor parenting.

“In almost all cases, I see parents who are exploring their own romantic and sexual possibilities on their own time, and that’s not affecting their children at all,” Adams said. “The same-sex marriage movement has initiated a lot of that conversation. Is it possible to have committed love and partnership without traditional marriage? The conversation is expanding our sense of possibilities.”

Feingold also acknowledges parallels between the LGBTQ movement and the polyamorous movement. Many consider polyamory an orientation rather than a choice. He called the broad acceptance of polyamory the “next big frontier for public perception to cross.”

A poly family in Atlanta, Georgia consists of five adults, two of whom, Melissa and Billy, are married and each date one person. Billy’s girlfriend also has another boyfriend. Melissa’s nine-year-old daughter Ashley considers her family to have “two dads, one mom, and one person dating another person,” NBC.com reported in a video segment last week.

According to Billy, being poly means “being open to the idea that you don’t have to have just that one.”

The children’s feelings are mixed. When some adults are out and about, Ashley likes “always having somebody there,” she said. But Melissa’s son left home as a teenager because he condemned his mother’s lifestyle, though he still seems to keep contact.

There are over 900 polyamorous families in Atlanta, NBC reported, but they remain relatively under the radar to avoid community opposition. One man in the NBC segment at a polyamorous meet-up said, “It’s almost like the new gay, I guess.”

Polyamory is illegal under adultery laws in 21 states, including Georgia. Attorney Danny Naggiar of the NS Family Law Firm in Atlanta told NRO that laws against adultery and bigamy are still technically on the books though “never really enforced.” Were a polyamorous couple to divorce, any extramarital relationships could affect child custody and alimony.

“Polyamory certainly would have an impact on an environment suitable to raise a child,” Naggiar said. “But Georgia isn’t a very progressive state in terms of changing laws to accommodate personal lifestyle choices.”

– Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review.

Most Popular

White House

Another Warning Sign

The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More

What’s So Great about Western Civilization

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter), One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that ... Read More
White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More
Film & TV

Jesus Is Not the Joker

Actors love to think they can play anything, but the job of any half-decent filmmaker is to tell them when they’re not right for a part. If the Rock wants to play Kurt Cobain, try to talk him out of it. Adam Sandler as King Lear is not a great match. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. He’s playing Jesus ... Read More

Supreme Court Mulls Citizenship Question for Census

Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More

Screw York Yankees

You are dead to me. You are a collection of Fredos. The cock has crowed, you pathetic sniveling jerks. The team I have rooted for since 1965, when I first visited the House that Ruth Built, where I hawked peanuts and ice cream a lifetime ago, watched countless games (Guidry striking out 18!), has gotten so ... Read More