Poly float in the Sydney Mardi Gras!

Poly float in the Sydney Mardi Gras!

The Australian polyamorous community has entered the Mardi Gras (MG) first time under its own banner!

It was a complete community effort (replete with kinky fundraising) and we have made a splash!

This year’s theme was ‘say something’ and we certainly did. First of all we publicly declared our existence. We had a huge ‘POLYAMORY’ banner in front so that revellers of all sorts would notice our identity.

The float’s theme was ‘Polyglamorous’ and we showed that we are a glamorous, cheeky, fun and outrageous lot. We had speech bubbles declaring ‘polyamorists out and proud’ and ‘my girlfriend’s boyfriend thinks you are hot’. We had an awesome sequined truck, up to a hundred gorgeously dressed human bonobos, music and choreography, twirlers and hoops and kinky shenanigans. It’s hard to get noticed in the parade, but I think we definitely showed the crowd that we can celebrate our rich connected lives in style.

Being in the middle of the float where I knew at least 70% of people I can attest to this: you’d have to be an anthropologist to draw all the romantic connections between us all! We don’t just talk, we practice polyamory :)

We had whole families marching. We had people from Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania, and from regional and rural towns in NSW and Victoria. Next year, when the poly community no doubt will do it all over again, we hope to have people from New Zealand and beyond.

If you are in Europe, UK, Canada or the USA and you are poly, why not come to Sydney’s Mardi Gras next year? The festival is in late Feb and the parade is on the first Sat of March. Go on the PolyOz Yahoo list or the polyamory.org.au website and we’ll probably be able to help you couch surf or find a temporary poly home for free.

On the float red and black were the favourite colours, there were many corsets and fetishy dresses, cross-dressing and nudity and bodypainting. All ages, shapes, sizes, orientations etc though the usual bi-poly-kinky triumvirate was in evidence.

There was also a very successful and playful afterparty that we’ll also have to repeat next year, and a pre-party picnic and pub night to welcome visitors. This week we are also having a discussion night with many guests who are staying in town.

Apparently we were also on cable TV and the cameras soaked up our message and glamorous presence. How awesome.

As the poly community in Sydney is growing we are putting on more and more events: bi-monthly discussion nights, monthly socials, dinner parties, camping… playparties, book club, game nights and film nights are also talked about. A poly tv segment will also air on the Australian free-to-air channel SBS in June 2011 as part of a series on love and relationships and community members have featured in articles and have been on radio. We are getting more visible and active.

It is absolutely amazing to be part of such a vibrant, caring, amazing community with so many amazing independent, talented, empathic, connected, pansexual human beings in it. Our float is going to be happening again in 2012!

For my Mardi Gras shots on Facebook go here

Bonobos

Bonobos

Bonobos are back on my reading list and back on my mind!

I’m currently reading Vanessa Woods’ Bonobo Handshake which is a wonderfully written account of primatology work up close in the Congo with all its fascinating, scary, touching and sad details. Bonobos and the state of Congo get roughly equal amount of discussion, yet it’s the bonobos that delight and amaze the most.

Chimps and bonobos are genetically equally close to humans yet it’s the chimps that have been studied most as they are geographically spread out while bonobos are confined to pockets of the Congo basin which has gone through decades of civil war, keeping the bonobos away from scientific studies. Fortunately there are now scientists in Congo doing awesome research into our bonobos relatives who seem to mirror the best aspects of humanity. Unfortunately, however, bonobos are hurtling towards extinction as their habitat is being lost and poachers hunt them for bush meat. Some sanctuaries are doing a great work to try to reverse this awful trend and shed light on our connection with these creatures.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to learn from bonobos, more about our own evolutionary past on one hand, and on the other the incredible diversity of social organization in animals” says Chilean born Isabel Behncke Izquierdo who also works with bonobos and has a really fun and informative TED interview

Unlike chimps that are often aggressive, patriarchal, hierarchical and often viciously violent, bonobos are known for their peaceful, playful ways which seems to be related to their amazing ability to bond through sexual intimacy and use of sex as a powerful tool for tolerance and cooperation. They are also a matriarchal society. “Chimpanzees resolve sexual issues with power; bonobos resolve power issues with sex” Behncke Izquierdo says.

Grooming, tolerance, care for each other, cooperation. Humans could certainly do with more of all these, not to mention a much more liberal, happy sex-positive outlook that takes friendly sluttiness as a way to build strong communities. Could we learn from the bonobos? Hard to say, but surely reflecting upon the better qualities of ourselves in great apes is something to cherish. Try looking at a bonobo and not see the reflection of your humanity.

I also highly recommend the book by Woods, she describes the day to day activities inside a bonobo sanctuary with its cross-cultural staff, scientific work on the emotions and behaviour of primates, and of course the ever fascinating bonobos themselves. The book reads itself and provides heaps of wonderful insights into the lives of these creatures, and ourselves.

(top: Behncke Izquierdo, bottom: Vanessa Woods and bonobos)