Lafayette Morehouse

A free-love commune that focuses on sexual experimentation and pleasurable lifestyles.

Religion: Non-Religious
Founder: Dr. Victor Baranco 
Founded: 1968
Location: Pleasant Hill, California, USA
Also called: The Purple People

Lafayette Morehouse, often associated with the colloquial name “Purple People” due to their affinity for the color purple in their homes and vehicles, is an intentional community founded in 1968 in Lafayette, California. The community, inspired by founders Dr. Victor Baranco and his first wife Suzanne, and continued by his widow Dr. Cynthia Baranco, has been a long-standing experiment in group living and alternative social research for over fifty years, rooted in the concept of responsible hedonism, which emphasizes the pursuit of pleasure without causing harm to oneself or others. The community is known for its unique lifestyle, which includes various aspects of communal living, sexual freedom, and personal development through courses offered on topics such as pleasurable interpersonal relationships, effective communication, and sensual living.

Residents of Lafayette Morehouse have a diverse range of sexual preferences, including celibacy, monogamy, and polyamory, and they participate in a strict sexual health screening program initiated in the late 1970s to mitigate the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The community is also well-known for its educational programs, particularly those focusing on sexuality and relationships. They offer a range of courses, including ‘The Pleasure Course’ and ‘Successful Relationships,’ aiming to educate participants on achieving greater fulfillment in their personal and sexual lives.

The central philosophy of Lafayette Morehouse revolves around the concept of “win-win” situations, where every action should benefit all parties involved. The community employs a unique decision-making process known as the one no-vote, allowing any member to veto proposed actions, thus ensuring all voices are heard and considered. They also value other concepts, such as personal responsibility and direct honesty, which extends to their approach to relationships and sexuality, in which they advocate for open sexual relationships and encourage exploration and education in sexual matters.

Lafayette Morehouse has also faced its share of criticisms and controversies, particularly surrounding More University, which operated from 1977 to 1997 and offered degrees in sensuality and lifestyles among other subjects. Critics have questioned the legitimacy of the university, its faculty selection, and the value of its degrees. Moreover, the community has been labeled by some as a “sex cult” due to its focus on sexual research and teachings, a characterization that has contributed to strained relations with neighboring residents. This tension was especially notable during the period when Lafayette Morehouse opened its doors to a large number of homeless people, leading to legal battles over zoning codes and property use.

The community initially resided in Lafayette, California, but later moved to a 30-acre site in Pleasant Hill, California. The members live together in a communal setting, sharing chores, responsibilities, and social activities. Over the years, Lafayette Morehouse has expanded its influence through the establishment of satellite houses and the hosting of seminars and workshops. These events attract a diverse range of participants, from those curious about alternative lifestyles to individuals seeking deeper understanding and fulfillment in their relationships.

The group’s approach to living and their teachings on sexuality have influenced similar communities and movements, contributing to the broader conversation on sexual freedom and relationship dynamics. However, the community remains relatively small and insular, focusing primarily on the well-being and development of its members.

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