I Am Affected
I've been referencing Franklin Veaux’s material and supporting his work for over a decade. I've met him several times and enjoyed his workshops and readings. Over a decade ago my partner, Aicila, shared his polyamorous metaphor “Fixing the refrigerator” with me. It would become the foundation for some of our own teachings on jealousy in polyamorous relationships. And I am affected.
Six women have come forward with stories of experiences with Franklin that do not align with his public persona, his self-described stories of his relationships, or the values stated in his writing. These women include all three of his past nesting partners, as well as the women who have featured most prominently in his personal narratives.
—Survivor Support, On Light and Shadow: Polyamory’s #metoo
This is the problem with having “heroes” right? We think they are better than we are. Franklin, co-author of the book More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, has always been the guy I’ve been able to watch from afar and say, “See, there’s an example of someone who’s figured it out. He’s writing books, teaching workshops, his partners are in it with him. They don’t claim to be perfect, but they work through their challenges. If I could just follow his example…”
Then, I received this article, On Light and Shadow, from Aicila, the very woman who introduced me to his work. And I am affected. “Not another one,” I thought. Not another guy I held up as an example of men’s evolution. Not another man I saw carving out a better path through the shitty programming we are given as boys. Not another hero unveiled as an abuser, philanderer, or fraud. Not another man I have admired crucified for stupid choices or abusive behavior. I just ache from the idea of it. Damn it.
It was a while before I could make myself read it in full. I didn’t want to know. Not really. I wanted to let it sit and hope that something else comes out disavowing the testimony of these women and absolve him of their accusations.
But, I can’t do that. I value these women’s stories too much. I can’t be that guy who won’t listen to their truths. When I did read it, I found the single most compassionate public disclosure and call to action in the #metoo movement I have yet to see. Over a dozen authors, activists, presenters, therapists, and performers came together to open this conversation. Also, they addressed the challenge I have been trying to figure out for a while now. “How do we have a conversation about people who have hurt others without a gallows in the background?”
I have made my own fair share of mistakes over the years. I have hurt people. I have been abusive. I have manipulated people and situations to my own ends. Sometimes, these actions were intentional. But, more often than not, they came from an unconscious navigation of life. Trying to make the best of a situation, learning to walk through complex emotional and physical relationships without a map or guidebook on how to “do it right”. In those journeys I have pushed people, hurt people, and damaged myself and others. I have no doubt at some point in my career, people will publicly voice those experiences of me. I’ve tried to own and address many of them already. Those conversations have been some of the most healing and growthful experiences of my life. I am so grateful to the men and women who have tackled those difficult conversations with me. If others wish to have similar conversations, I am open to it. I hope Franklin can do the same.
All of us are a mix of light and shadow, good and bad…If we were neatly sorted into piles marked “good people” and “bad people”, life would be much simpler. We could not, for example, be simultaneously easy to love and dangerous to love.
—Franklin Veaux, The Game Changer
This opportunity for discourse and open acknowledgement of our mistakes, poor choices, and hurtful actions is the only way we as a culture are going to heal the damage done by the horrid emotional education many of us received as children. There were no high school classes called “Breaking up with Grace” or “Managing Anger in Emotionally Charged Situations” or “Social Manipulation: Using your Powers for Good”. ...Perhaps I should build those classes.
The only way to get through #metoo and into #neveragain, is to not only speak about these men’s behaviors, but to work WITH those who have offended, to become better men. And I know that we CAN be better men.
Cornel West says that ‘justice is what love looks like in public.’ I won’t experience the love of healing in a system that tears victims apart; you will not experience the love of accountability in a system that simply enacts more violence against those who have harmed others.
— Dr. Lucia Lorenzi
Thank you to Aida Manduley, LCSW, Anne Honeycutt, Calum Campbell, Chelsey Blair, Jakob Liljenwall, Jamie Thomas, Louisa Leontiades, Marissa Stein, Mike Burnside, Pepper Mint, Samantha Fraser, Samantha Manewitz, LICSW CST, Shay Tiziano, and Tristan Taormino for all the work they did to bring these women's stories into the light for us to hear, share, and learn from.
I hope such a call to action is never needed for me. If it is, I hope I am met with as much grace as you have shown here.
Therapeutic Kink Practitioner
A Kink in the Cure