Atiq Zabinski, a 48-year-old massage therapist in Brooklyn, says: "A big part of the paradigm of monogamy is a sense of property, a sense of owning another person. The other thing is jealousy, and the idea that it can be healthy to be jealous. I think both of these concepts are quite neurotic. With polyamory, there is instead the idea of 'compersion,' which is taking pleasure in whatever makes your lover happy. You are happy to see your lover happy, and that includes them being made happy by the love of another person."
Andy Izenson, 28, is a transgender lawyer based in Brooklyn. "I only know like one trans person in New York who’s monogamous," they say. "Once you start questioning gender, sometimes a lot of other things fall down like a house of cards. If I’ve been told my entire life that I have to be a girl, and if that’s not true, then what are the other things I’ve been told I have to be that might also be fake or not applicable?"
Melissa Cretin, 38, is a yoga instructor from New Orleans who is in town to see her daughter. "Eight months ago, I had color in my hair and Botox and a Range Rover," she says. "But now I’m done with the American idea of success that’s shoved down your throat, and I’m doing a hard reset."
Geoff Ellis, who is 67 and from Noosa, Australia, stands by the front entrance of the HI NYC hostel on West 103rd Street in his trekking gear. "I just spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail," he says. "For me, it was a personal ambition to be a ‘thru hiker’ and do it all in one hit, from start to finish, all 2,190 miles."
Susana Malvarez, a 52-year-old airline worker from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, enjoys a smoke and conversation on a rainy night. "I like how in a hostel you can talk to your roommates about what you’ve been doing," she says. "It’s warmer than staying in a hotel, where you go to your room and it’s cold."
Mike Bento is a 31-year-old Black Lives Matter activist who lives in Harlem. Since 2015, he has led marches for "People's Monday," weekly protests to highlight killings by the police. "When we started doing People’s Monday, the mayor announced the NYPD’s new Strategic Response Group, an elite unit equipped with all the latest technology like sound cannons and stingrays that capture cell phone data. Their stated goal was to fight terrorism…and protesters. As if they are the same thing."
Audu Kadiri, 41, is a community organizer and asylum seeker from Abuja, Nigeria, who is now based in Brooklyn. A fierce advocate for the health rights of the Nigerian LGBT community, he fled his country in 2014 because of a new law that criminalized providing any services to them. "Within twenty-four hours of the law being passed," he says, "we had ten reports of gay men being attacked and violated, and police began to enforce the new law with mass arrests. I decided to leave Nigeria the day I began to fear for my life."
“My community has a lot of problems that are institutionally heaped upon it that may never be resolved,” says Courtney Williams, 32, who lives in Brooklyn. “But we still have a need to take care of ourselves, and I know this sounds really hippy-dippy, but bicycles are these magic machines that can kind of cure all.”
Dorcus Conde, who is 55, lives in Queens, and works at the VA Medical Center, rides in Central Park with James Sweeney, a 47-year-old chef also from Queens. As on many Saturdays, he guides Dorcus on one of their weekly rides for the blind sponsored by the group, In Tandem. “I feel comfortable with James,” says Conde. “We have a system. I can’t just cruise along. We have to be a team and work together.”
Dr. Aye Aye San, the CEO of Victoria Hospital in Yangon, Myanmar
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