It's easy to dismiss these events as fluff and folderol. But Walker's parties, both in Irvington and at her Manhattan salon, The Dark Tower, played a crucial, if invisible role in the Harlem Renaissance: They provided a safe, welcoming environment for queer people at a time when there were few other social options available. While she herself was not known to be lesbian or bisexual, Walker's parties were places where anyone could express their sexuality however they pleased.
But if same-sex marriage is the first step on this journey, where are we headed, and how do we go the rest of the way? Two books published this summer — Love’s Promises: How Formal and Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families, by Martha Ertman, and How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, by Bella DePaulo — come at these questions from cockeyed angles, addressing love and life through law and contracts, real estate and urban planning. Though very different in style, tone, and subject, both seek to expand the landscape of accepted family–life configurations available to us.
"Thruple" is a hideous neologism that sounds like wet paper being torn. "Threeway" and "threesome" are great if you're writing copy for a porn site, but not if you're trying to have a polite conversation with your boyfriend's Sunday-school-teacher Southern mother. "Love triangle" comes with too much baggage, while "triad" calls to mind gangsters in Southeast Asia. "Tribunal" is too judicial, "troika" too communist, and "triumvirate" is just too damn long.