By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
"You know, I feel better knowing John loves two women and he's not treating one like crap so he can sneak around and date the other," Charlotte says. "He's honest about what's going on, and the children aren't growing up seeing him sneak off to be with me."
Following the initial shock, Brianna's parents are coming around. Not that it matters to Brianna much. She didn't ask for their approval when she married John in the first place, she says, and she isn't going to start now. John's family seems okay with it too.
"My uncle praised me," John says. " "Hey, you go.' "
John and Brianna and Charlotte say this setup is forever, and they don't care what anyone says. They know of -- but don't worry about -- a recent case in Tennessee where the daughter of a woman named April Divilbiss was removed from her home because April lived with two husbands. The child's grandmother discovered and went after April's new family when they were profiled in an MTV program called Sex in the '90s: It's a Group Thing, and April has since become something of a poster child for the polyamorous community.
It's crazy to take someone's kids away because of this, say John and Brianna and Charlotte. The three of them love their kids. At school Alex even draws Charlotte into his family picture. And that's a good thing, because they want Charlotte with them forever.
"This is a closed relationship," insists Brianna. "I mean, if something in the future ever happened where we would choose to open it up again, everyone would have to be 100 percent willing." Then she giggles and adds, "It would have to be a guy. To keep things even."
Charlotte doesn't seem interested in opening up her family. She's happy with the one she has finally found. "This is one for all...," she begins to say, and stumbles over the phrase. When the sentence is finished for her, she smiles and repeats it with confidence: "All for one, and one for all."
"That's our theme song," quips Brianna.
Holly Feray is a 29-year-old brassy bombshell, and she knows it. How could she not? She has two husbands who adore her. And to make things even easier, they actually get along. Patrick Walsh, 32, has been with Holly for almost six years, and C.J. Tipton, 27, has been with her for three. Surrounding a table at the Empire Cafe, they finish each other's jokes, interrupt each other's stories and exude the camaraderie of old college drinking buddies.
Holly and Patrick and C.J. are a different kind of polyamorous triad than John, Brianna and Charlotte, who are all physically involved with one another. Patrick and C.J. make it very clear that it is only women they are interested in ("I'm a lesbian in a man's body, I'm so straight," says C.J.). While Patrick and C.J. describe their relationship as similar to one between brothers-in-law that really get along, Holly is certainly the center of a V with both of them equally connected to her. Unlike some polyamorous triads where a primary partner has a closer and tighter bond than a secondary partner, these three are on equal footing, they say. Also, unlike a closed or polyfidelitous triad, the three of them are free to date other people, although these relationships often take a backseat to the ones they are already in.
"We're a water molecule," says Patrick, a computer consultant. "C.J. and I are the hydrogen, and Holly's the oxygen." And it's true, perhaps in more ways than one. Because Patrick and C.J. seem to thrive just being around Holly and her auburn hair and her wry grin and her "I'm gonna tell you how it is, sweetheart" demeanor.
Patrick and Holly met when both were working as storytellers for the live-action role-playing game Vampire of the Masquerade. Patrick liked her caustic wit and her cute butt and the fact that her strong, dynamic personality complemented his laid-back, quiet one. They hit it off, and three months into the relationship, Holly decided she had to break the news to Patrick. She figured he might run screaming, but at least it would be out on the table and she wouldn't have her heart broken.
Ever since high school, Holly said, she had dated lots of guys at once, and she made no secret about it. She was never a tea-set Barbie-doll kind of girl who started planning her wedding in junior high school, she said. And she just couldn't see herself committing to one man for the rest of her life. After she told Patrick, he was just happy Holly hadn't wanted to break up with him.
"Prior to dating Holly, I could count the number of people I've dated on one hand," says Patrick, a soft-spoken man with a full brown beard. But because of that, he says, it had never occurred to him to have his girlfriend or wife with him all the time. If she wanted to be with other people and that made her happy, well, it made him happy. So when Patrick and Holly moved to Bryan-College Station for one year and Holly met C.J. at a gaming event, Patrick was cool about it.