Polyday was started in 2004 by a team of volunteers as a not-for-profit, community conference covering polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy. The Polyday team evolved as people came and went with the event itself retaining its core values. The baton changed hands to the current team in early 2015, with full approval of the founder who has retained interest in the event (including leading a session in 2019), and who we consult on ideas. The handover included the Polyday website, graphics and bank account with acknowledgement that the previous team knew us and had full confidence that we could continue their good work.
We started planning Polyday 2020 in February of that year, and had to cancel that years’ event and 2021 due to the pandemic.
In July 2021 there was a single attempt to contact the Polyday team via a generic email address, to discuss using the Polyday name for an online event. Technology being what it is, the email went to the spam box and wasn’t discovered until a few weeks later. Meanwhile, the people behind this new event started to contact past Polyday speakers, claiming to be the “new team” behind Polyday 2021 and asking if they wished to appear.
When we became aware of this the Polyday chair arranged a Zoom meeting with the organisers of the new event.
Further communication from the organisers of this new event made it clear that they felt we had no grounds to dispute the appropriateness of their use of the name “Polyday”. This was despite them having no previous connections to any previous organiser teams, community space, or events run under that name, nor following any of the core principles that the event has been associated with from the beginning, such as profits being reinvested into future events. We felt forced to register Polyday as a trademark in order to protect the reputation of the event and subsequently made it clear that under British law “passing off” their event as Polyday when a reputation had been established under that name is not permitted.
In the end, the new event went ahead under the name of “Polyamory Day” and we kept quiet, not wanting to cause friction in the community and because we welcome more events. We hoped that was the end of any issues. We are volunteers and activists who have literally shed blood, sweat and tears for Polyday over a period of 7 years, to bring the community five annual events which gained praise in the national press and became Europe’s largest one-day conference on ethical non-monogamy. As volunteers we have always bought our own tickets, paid our own travel expenses both to Polyday itself and to team meetings, used our own A/V equipment, computers and vehicles. We have never been paid for our efforts – not even when we were also session facilitators and speakers. Since 2017 we have actively sought new people to join the committee with a view to passing on the baton ourselves. We also welcome more events because more should be better. There’s plenty of room for several conference type events on non-monogamy in London alone and further afield. We even bought tickets to Polyamory Day in order to support the endeavour.
In the run-up to the first Polyamory Day online event, there was confusion in Facebook groups regarding this event being connected to Polyday. Several posters assumed Polyday was back. We responded only to politely point out that Polyamory Day was a new event, not connected to Polyday and that we’d be back once the pandemic permitted it. Throughout the lockdowns and restrictions we maintained our presence in various online groups and started a discord server to continue serving the community that we have helped build over the last few years. Contrary to claims by the team behind Polyamory Day, we did not disappear and there was never any doubt that we intended to bring back Polyday. We could have been contacted easily at any time via multiple channels. We kept the Polyday website live with small updates to the effect that Polyday 2020 and then 2021 were cancelled and that we’d be back as soon as it was safe.
From discussions in online polyamory groups, it became clear that the profits from Polyamory Day were to be distributed to the organisers as well as the speakers. While Polyday has been able to pay speakers travel expenses and an honorarium, the organisers don’t take a single penny. Any profit made gets put aside for future Polyday events. This is a vital part of what makes Polyday a genuine community, not-for-profit event. There is a specific bank account for this, which was handed to us in 2015 and which we will hand over should a genuine team of community volunteers wish to take on the task of organising future Polyday events.
Two online events took place under the Polyamory Day banner, with one organiser continuing to use #polyday in promoting the event which perpetuated the confusion. Then in 2022, we decided that it was once again safe and appropriate to organise Polyday, and began promotion and ticket sales in July. In August 2022, one of the Polyamory Day organisers made a TikTok video claiming to have only just discovered Polyday exists, and that the word “poly” is grossly offensive to people of Polynesian origin despite using “poly” in their own “academic” platform. Further lies and misrepresentations were made on this TikTok account including stating that all our presenters are white, which came as a huge shock and caused offence to multiple speakers of colour. These videos accused Polyday of passing off Polyamory Day, referring to the Polyday chair as “some random person”, and further demonstrated little knowledge of what Polyday is and stands for.
We then learned that some of our speakers had received threatening private messages, regarding their involvement in Polyday. This was the ultimate catalyst to us taking the heartbreaking decision to cancel. We cannot allow our speakers’ livelihoods to be put at risk. They represent various marginalised identities, often several at once, and going ahead would risk damage to them and the community. To us, this is unconscionable.
The Polyday team has been accused of guilt by association. In case you are unaware, the US polyamory scene has been torn apart by accusations of abuse against Franklin Veaux. The situation is ongoing and involves accusations from multiple parties
One long standing member of the committee has a business relationship and intimate friendship with Franklin Veaux. However, he is not a part of the Polyday organisation in any way and has never been involved at all other than appearing along with Eve Rickert at Polyday 2015 for a book signing. He has no influence in Polyday, and never has done. He does not support Polyday in any way, directly or indirectly. We have come under attack for sharing a graphic that he created, with the narrative that this proves he is supporting Polyday by giving us special permission to use his work for free. In fact this graphic is free for all to use with credit (Creative Commons) and neither Mr. Veaux or Polyday benefits in any way. Nevertheless the entire Polyday team are being accused of “close connection” with Mr. Veaux, in spite of many of them meeting him only once (in 2015), and of supporting abusers. This is both untrue and inappropriate behaviour in the community.
Cumulatively this is what has led to our final decision to cancel Polyday indefinitely, until another team is able to step up and take the baton to run Polyday as the non-profit, community-focused, volunteer event it has always been – preferably a team that is at least as intersectionally diverse as the current team. If you would like to run Polyday please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss handover.
Thank you so much for your support of us, and the event over these many years. Since we ourselves were passed the baton by the previous Polyday team in 2015, we have had many joyous and positive experiences meeting people in person at our events. We are heartbroken that it has come to this, but we don’t want to risk any further harm to the community.