Welcome to Prideville

May 26, 2023 by

by Auguste Meyrat, First Things:

In the advent of Pride Month, the New York Times published a profile of Somerville, Massachusetts, a self-declared haven for polyamorous people. The writer, Valeriya Safronova, quotes some of its denizens (who favor genderless titles such as “Mx.”) and celebrates Somerville’s virtues: “half of the businesses on one commercial street have an inclusive symbol, like a pride flag or a Hate Has No Home Here sticker…there’s a density of inclusive spaces that makes people like them feel safe.”

Somerville is “a very queer city,” brags Willie Burnley Jr., the town’s city councilor-at-large. “We have a population that’s more open to these ideas, and many of these folks are either currently non-monogamous or have tried non-monogamy or at the very least know someone who’s polyamorous.” Naturally, Burnley Jr. practices what he preaches.

While Safronova paints Somerville as a utopian model to which other cities may aspire, her essay raises more than a few questions: (1) Are polyamorous people really so marginalized that they need a whole town catering to them? (2) Do the leaders of Somerville set any limits on what lifestyles are permitted? For example, are polygamy, pedophilia, or bestiality allowed? If not, why not? (3) Is a town of polyamorous households good for children? (4) Doesn’t Somerville’s inclusion of polyamorous people necessarily exclude most people who find it immoral?

Despite what progressives believe, polyamorous people, even those with fluid genders and sexualities, don’t face serious hostility in most American cities. Even in the urban centers of red states there are plenty of “gayborhoods” and “bohemian” enclaves where sexual promiscuity is welcome and Pride flags are ubiquitous. In light of this, it’s difficult to determine what a place like Somerville, a suburb outside of Boston, offers that the actual city of Boston doesn’t.

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