Kimichi Cuddles author and creator Tikva Wolf will be joining me at Charis Books & More in Little Five Points this Friday, September 30. Please join us there for An Evening of Poly Abundance beginning at 7:30.
As home of a thriving film industry, the Black Glitterati, and the largest gay population between Miami and Washington DC, Atlanta is a city of rich cultural diversity. One of the elements of that diversity shows up in the incredible range of relationship and sexuality related cons to which the lovely city of Atlanta plays host. Listed in chronological order below, these conventions add a smart and sexy strand to the vibrancy of Atlanta.
All of these cons have online registration, meet in large hotels, have social and learning components with panel presentations and gaming rooms, and include vendors rooms with merchants selling everything from jewelry, books, and crafts to corsets, kilts, and sex toys. While the cons usually have blocks of rooms reserved for reduced rates, it can be cheaper to stay in smaller or more modest hotels nearby.
InfinityCon – February
Fresh from its first excellent year, InfintyCon specializes in the kinky side of polyamory. Touting itself as an educational conference with flair, InfinityCon aims to deliver a wide variety of information on polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy. It is a sister con to Atlanta Poly Weekend with a more adult focus to contrast to APW’s family-friendly goals. In addition to their educational tracks, InfinityCon hosts a fun track designed to help folks connect with like-minded people with social time, dancing, and relaxation. InfinityCon is scheduled for February 9 – 12 in 2017.
Frolicon – April
Known among locals as DragonCon’s slutty little sister, Frolicon is a chance to “join all your favorite deviants for a fun filled weekend of debauchery and decadence.” A kink and think con for the “naughty side of paradise,” Frolicon features fun for thinkers, artists, and kinksters. Think tracks include those for writers, LGBT+, costuming, and polyamory, The kink track has classes on techniques, theories, and relationships, and the sync track helps frolickers make connections through meetups, speed dating, and mingles. For the kinksters, there is an incredibly well-equipped dungeon (configured by Sadistic Engineering) that fills the hotel’s largest ballroom and hosts open play as well as theme parties. Partiers will enjoy the Saturday night Party Battles in which groups of people try to outdo each other with making their party the most fun. Frolicon happens in the spring, when it is time to frolic, and is scheduled for April 13-16 in 2017.
Atlanta Poly Weekend – June
Having just completed its sixth year, Atlanta Poly Weekend is the only child-friendly con that features a kid track and pg-13 programming during the day, with the NC-17 programming scheduled after 9pm. Established by the Relationship Equality Foundation, APW offers polyamorous or poly curious folks the opportunity to meet and mingle, learn new skills, get advice, make family connections with other polys with kids (or without kids :), and learn about the wide world of communication, negotiation, and honesty among multiple partners. Atlanta Poly Weekend is scheduled for June 2 – 4 in 2017.
South East Leather Fest SELF – June
In addition to lots of classes and opportunities to learn everything from An Introduction to Biting or Conflict Resolution Within a Master/slave Framework to Erotic Shaving or BDSM and the Law, SELF also hosts a range of competitions. Titles include Master/slave, Ms. SELF, SELF Boy/Boi, Mr. SELF, Southeast Bootblack and Southeast Person of Leather. SELF also hosts a huge dungeon with some very sophisticated scenes – dedicated to a much more serious version of kink than Frolicon, which also has a giant dungeon but is focused more on play and less on protocol. This next SELF is scheduled for June 22-25 2017.
DragonCon – September
While not officially a sexualities-related convention, DragonCon is the kind of sci fi geek paradise that appeals to the kinksters, queers, polys, and cosplayers. Founded in 1987 and now in its 30th year, DragonCon touts itself as the largest muilti-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe. It hosts one of the most impressive parades I have ever seen and brings media figures from Sarah Gellar to William Shatner who speak to adoring throngs. The many fan tracks focus on everything from alternate history, animation, and armory to paranormal, puppetry, and robotics or urban fantasy, video gaming, and young adult literature. My personal favorites are the science and skeptic tracks. The mingling of thousands of imaginative people in sexy cosplay (with a decent dose of alcohol) leads to sexual exploration and fantasy play. DragonCon is a great place to get your geek on, and your freak on. It is scheduled for September 1-4 in 2017.
Sex Down South – October
Organized by a cadre of smart young queers, Sex Down South focuses on the intersections of sexuality, race, class, gender, ability, religion, social justice, and pleasure. In 2015, the first year of this excellent con dedicated to diversity and sexual liberation for everyone, speakers included psychologist Dr. Rachel Kieran, writer Fiona Zedde, sexy disability activist Robin Wilson Beattie, Velvet Lips founder and sex educator extraordinaire Marla Stewart, performance artist Ignacio Rivera (aka Papi Coxxx), minister Aldalphie Johnson, and author, podcaster, and cliterati Tristian Taormino. Sex Down South is scheduled for October 13 – 15 in 2016 and includes an impressive line-up including Tyomi Morgan, Sinclair Sexsmith, Orpheus Black, Ken Melvoin-Berg, Sunny Megatron, and yours truly (Elisabeth Sheff). SDS is coming right up — October 13-15 2016 at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta.
Do you know of any relationship or sexuality cons in Atlanta that did not make the list? Let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to add them.
I am thrilled to be speaking to the Asheville Poly Network tonight at 6pm. Tickets are $15 and available at the door, and there are still spaces available. Hope to see you tonight!
The APN meets at 68 Kentucky Dr, Asheville, NC 28806
Important parking information below:
Look for the large building in the back straight up the driveway (called the “Awarehouse”). We’re supposed to park on the street along the fence, to the right of the driveway if you’re looking at the driveway. There will be a sign in front saying something about the poly meetup.
I am currently writing a series of blogs on abuse in poly relationships for my Psychology Today blog, and working on a more in-depth blog on abuse in kinky relationships for the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom. Obviously, the topic of abuse in sex and gender minority relationships is really on my mind lately. So when a reader commented on one of my PT blogs and I interpreted the situation the reader described as possibly abusive, I had to stop and think if that was just because I am somewhat obsessed with the topic right now and projecting abuse where there is simply a difficult situation? Or is the situation truly abusive and it just happens that i am already thinking about this topic and the message fell in my lap? Truly, the initial message does not provide enough information to make a call either way, and it would take considerably more discussion to determine the nature of the interactions.
The bigger question is how can we tell when something is abusive? It is a complicated question in a shifting cultural landscape where ideas of what counts as abuse have changed drastically in the last 100 years. AltSex communities have developed an affirmative stance towards demanding consent and placing everything else on the other side of a bright line (except for consensual non-consent, which is a different story). Thing is, humans are complicated and their interactions a tangle of mixed viewpoints, self-delusion, good will, and unclear motivations. Not every non-consensual act is abusive — there is an enormous middle ground populated by shades of gray so vast an elephant would be jealous. At it is that middle ground that is most often where AltSex community members and leaders must make decisions about how to deal with the boundary pushers in their midst.
This is a long way to say that I am interested in your ideas about abuse in AltSex communities — How can we tell when something is abusive? How should we deal with it? Who gets to decide? Please comment and let me know what you think.
Even more specifically, does anyone know of resources for someone in a D/s relationship that is potentially malfunctioning? My reader described their situation as: “…a mono person married to a poly person, I only feel tremendous pain. It is most definitely not about control since I am the submissive in our M/s relationship.” So far I have recommended the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom and Fetlife — can anyone think of an especially supportive forum for submissives in trouble on Fetlife?
Below is my response, please let me know what other resources I could offer to this reader.
It sounds like you have the worst of the mono/poly conundrum happening in your life, and I am really sorry to hear it. Just because your partner wants to be poly does not mean that you have to “put up with it” and stick around in a relationship that gives you only pain and no control. Even as the submissive in a power exchange relationship, you are allowed — even required — to think clearly about your own boundaries and enforce them. A “good” Dom takes care of “their” submissive(s) and that also means caring for their emotional wellbeing. There is a big difference between power exchange and abuse, and it might be that your relationship has crossed that line. If your Dom does not care at all that you are in tremendous pain then you might need to move along and either find your own center for a while and/or find a healthier power exchange relationship.
Please consider checking out the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s statement about the differences between SM and abuse at https://ncsfreedom.org/component/k2/item/435-sm-vs-abuse-policy-statement.html
Poly is not an excuse to exploit and abuse people, and if you are feeling that your boundaries have been crossed then please please please take care of yourself. You do not have to put up with tremendous pain and no good from your relationship — you can leave!!!!
Your Dom might be poly by orientation and might really need poly relationships, and that is fine. But it doesn’t mean that is has to be with you if that relationship style does not work for you. It is better to be alone and hopefully find a different partner who fits you better (if that is what you want, a lot of people find they love being single) than to put up with agony.
Also, consider reaching out to other submissives to find out how they handle their emotional interactions with their Doms. If you are not on Fetlife yet, get an account and find a forum for subs in trouble. You can definitely get some support and advice from your online community.
All the best to you,
In my most recent blog on Psychology Today I look at the protective features that may make some poly families less prone to abuse. This blog is the first in a two-part series, and the second will discuss factors that can increase the likelihood of abuse in a poly family.
Written by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff
Marriage and monogamy are not what they used to be, and today many couples are opting to start families before getting married, or deciding not to get married at all. At the same time, gay couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage are getting married in droves. Some people prefer non-monogamy and have relationships that include swinging and polyamory. The landscape of American marriage and relationships is changing, and a variety of family systems are developing and becoming more common.
Dr. Elisabeth Sheff is the author of The Polyamorists Next Door, a blog featured on Psychology Today.
Using empirical information based in academic research, this blog explores the issues facing polyamorous relationships and families. It covers topics as diverse as sexuality to parenting, jealousy to coming out to families of origin, and employment and housing discrimination to online dating.