Jace Knight had heard about Somerville, Mass., whereas engaged on a Ph.D. on the College of Alabama in 2020.

The small metropolis had not too long ago handed a regulation granting home partnership rights, like the power to obtain employment advantages or make hospital visits, to folks in polyamorous relationships. Mx. Knight, who’s nonbinary and has been nonmonogamous since 2014, was impressed.

In late March, Somerville handed two extra legal guidelines extending the rights of nonmonogamous residents, this time banning discrimination on the idea of “household or relationship construction” in metropolis employment and policing. (An identical ordinance, centered on housing, is at the moment being mentioned by the Somerville Metropolis Council.)

Across the similar time these new legal guidelines handed, Mx. Knight, 38, now with a Ph.D. in utilized arithmetic, moved from Alabama to a home in Somerville with their two companions and a associate of a type of companions. The town’s perspective towards nonmonogamy was an enormous issue within the group’s resolution to maneuver there, Mx. Knight mentioned.

Lately, Somerville, a four-square-mile metropolis with 80,000 residents simply outdoors Boston, has quietly changed into one thing of a haven for individuals who follow consensual nonmonogamy, an umbrella time period for relationship types that contain greater than two folks. Certainly one of these is polyamory, which includes intimate or romantic connections with a number of folks and the information and consent of everybody concerned. Polygamy means to be married to a number of folks concurrently.

Somerville is near Harvard College and Massachusetts Institute of Know-how, and claims to have extra artists per capita than any metropolis in addition to New York. Usually described as “hippie” or “bohemian,” the town is staunchly L.G.B.T.Q-friendly. There’s a important crossover between those that establish as lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, trans and pansexual and those that follow nonmonogamy, in line with a number of research.

“We’re a really queer metropolis,” mentioned Willie Burnley Jr., 29, a metropolis councilor at-large who launched the brand new ordinances and who’s polyamorous. “We have now a inhabitants that’s extra open to those concepts, and lots of of those of us are both at the moment nonmonogamous or have tried nonmonogamy or on the very least know somebody who’s polyamorous.”

Somerville is alive with occasions like Indecent, a fetish- and kink-positive celebration, and Boudoir, a queer underground dance celebration. There are polyamorous speed-dating evenings, drag reveals on the venue Crystal Ballroom and a gender-neutral CrossFit fitness center.

Wil Corridor, 30, a software program engineer, has lived in Somerville for eight years and has been polyamorous for half that point.

“Over time I’ve had the popularity that extra love is rarely a nasty factor,” mentioned Mx. Corridor, who’s at the moment relationship two folks, every of whom is relationship one other individual.

Mx. Corridor mentioned, “half of the companies on one industrial road have an inclusive image, like a pleasure flag or a Hate Has No Residence Right here sticker. As a result of the town is so small, Mx. Corridor mentioned, there’s a density of inclusive areas that makes folks like them really feel secure.

In 2020, when Somerville determined to create a home partnership ordinance for the primary time in response to the medical wants of residents in the course of the pandemic, J.T. Scott, a metropolis councilor, requested why the brand new class must be restricted to {couples}.

“Everybody in Somerville Metropolis Council is aware of somebody who’s in a polyamorous or multiple-partner relationship,” he mentioned. “It’s quite common right here.” Different councilors agreed and the ordinance, which permits folks in multi-person relationships, together with these dwelling outdoors Somerville, to register as home companions, simply handed.

After Mr. Burnley was elected to the town council in 2021, he watched a webinar during which anti-discrimination ordinances have been named as the subsequent step for the multi-partner rights motion. “It made sense that Somerville must be the place to do this,” he mentioned. “We have been the primary across the home partnership ordinance, and we have now a management position to play on this motion.” Just like the home partnership ordinance, Mr. Burnley’s anti-discrimination ordinances have been accepted by the town council unanimously.

“In my dream world, Somerville is usually a secure haven for all walks of life, together with should you’re a normie who’s very vanilla and simply need to quiet down, and somebody who desires to have off-the wall events on the weekends,” Mr. Burnley mentioned.

Curiosity in nonmonogamy appears to be on the rise throughout the nation, buoyed by TV reveals like “Planet Intercourse With Cara Delevingne” and “Intercourse Diaries”; or mentioned publicly by folks just like the psychologist Esther Perel and the actress Jada Pinkett Smith (on her present “Crimson Desk Speak”).

In keeping with some analysis, about one-fifth of Individuals say they’ve been in a consensually nonmonogamous relationship sooner or later of their lives. Courting apps like Feeld and OkCupid have made discovering like-minded folks a lot easier by permitting customers to record nonmonogamy as a choice and to hyperlink their profiles to these of their companions.

Gabrielle Smith, 27, a author and digital content material creator in Brooklyn who focuses on nonmonogamy and relationships, mentioned that extra folks making an attempt nonmonogamy has led to extra conversations about it, which has led to extra folks making an attempt it — or at the least occupied with it.

“It’s undoubtedly turning into extra of a motion,” Ms. Smith mentioned. Lately organizations centered on nonmonogamy have initiated political and authorized motion, aggregated sources and developed scientific analysis.

After Somerville handed its home partnership regulation, Arlington and Cambridge, two different cities in Massachusetts, added polyamorous models to their present home partnership ordinances. However as soon as folks register as home companions there, advantages might lengthen past Massachusetts as nicely: “So folks across the nation are in a position to come get registered and go residence to typically use it as they’d some other home partnership they registered for of their residence metropolis or wherever,” Diana Adams, govt director of Chosen Household Legislation Heart and one of many individuals who helped write the anti-discrimination ordinances for Somerville, wrote in an e-mail.

The isolation and turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic might have additionally performed a job in some folks selecting to look past a two-person relationship mannequin, mentioned Rebecca Alvarez Story, a sexologist and the chief govt of Bloomi, an organization that makes intercourse toys and produces intercourse schooling content material. With polyamory, she mentioned, persons are pondering, “I could be extra fulfilled, I’ll get extra assist with my household, the monetary burden is shared extra.”

Nonetheless, folks in nonmonogamous relationships are nonetheless usually perceived and represented negatively. Some are afraid to come back out at work for worry of being fired or ignored for promotions, since there are not any employment protections on the idea of relationship construction. Dad and mom generally lose custody battles in household courtroom as a result of they’ve a number of companions.

For probably the most half, the Somerville ordinances won’t repair these issues. The anti-discrimination ordinances are very restricted in scope; and although the home partnership regulation is extra broad and permits polyamorous folks from outdoors Somerville to register as home companions, it won’t shield somebody from being fired or from having their youngsters taken away. However supporters of the legal guidelines say there’s significance in what they symbolize.

“We’re not working the place it’s a heteronormative, cisgender lady and man, and a couple of.5 youngsters,” Ms. Story Alvarez mentioned.

Ryan Malone, 37, a chemist who has lived on and off in Somerville for six years, mentioned that he is aware of a whole lot of people that establish as polyamorous, by means of his prolonged social circles. Mr. Malone, who has been nonmonogamous since he was in school, at the moment has a nesting associate, a long-term associate, two long-distance companions and a kink-based relationship with one other individual.

Mr. Malone mentioned he has by no means felt bizarre about occurring dates with two or extra folks on the similar time in Somerville. “Nobody appears to bat an eye fixed,” he mentioned, so he sees the brand new protections as very delicate.

Ashley Kirsner, 33, who has lived in Somerville for seven years, is the founding father of Skip the Small Speak, a corporation that provides speed-friending and speed-dating occasions across the nation. In 2018 the group held its first polyamorous speed-dating occasion in Somerville.

Occasions like these, the help of the neighborhood and the town ordinances have helped Mx. Corridor really feel extra seen. “Each time a brand new e-book comes out, or a brand new safety comes into place, it feels prefer it’s validating your id,” they mentioned.