Term Limits

One of the goals of writing TGA, besides harping on political issues, is to educate the general public about certain cultural norms intrinsic to gay life.

Today is one of those days.

There’s often an awkward social stumble, when even close friends are introducing a couple to someone new.

How to refer to each individual? Boyfriend? Husband? (or worse) Lover?

Here’s some guidelines:

Boyfriend: Once you’re past about age 25, the term ‘boyfriend’ is kind of inappropriate for a male couple. And in my opinion beyond about age 40 for an opposite gender couple. “Hi, I’m John and this is my boyfriend Joe” sounds yucky coming from a pair of 50 year old guys. It may work if Joe is 22, just be prepared people are going to say all kids of things about guys who date people 1/2 their age. Gay or straight.

Husband: Getting trickier now that so many normal people have voted to legalize gay marriage in various states in the US; and a huge number of western countries around the world.

A few years ago, it was generally used by anyone in reference to a couple that had been together for a long time. Now people are trying to recall if the couple actually did get married; have a commitment ceremony; or have just been together for a long time. If you don’t know for absolute certain, don’t use the term. Ricky and I ONLY use the term in private reference to each other as in “I’m so glad you’re my husband” but never when introducing ourselves to someone.

Lover: Unless you wear silk pajamas, smoke a pipe and drink martinis all day, you cannot use the term lover without making everyone within earshot nauseated. It’s just icky. Never, ever ever.

So, what to do?

While there’s no ‘one size fits all’ here’s a guideline:

If the couple has been enjoying eachother’s company more than the usual way a gaggle of gays often do, the term ‘friend’ works well. As long as you don’t say ‘friend’ with a wink in your voice.

You know what I mean.

“Have you met my friend Bill and his friend Ryan?” works perfectly.

Here’s my favorite: ‘partner’. We share a home, a life, and a social circle. We share socks and some shirts. We share eachother’s cars (He’s a little scared to drive sexy car, knowing that when I tell him ‘I love you more than my car’ the scales could tip if there were a mishap with sexy car)

We also share long term goals, outrageous dreams, and a financial plan that we hope will let us slow down our work life, with full knowledge we’ll work til we’re dead, since we’re just not the bridge club or knitting nook kind of guys.

We’ve nailed that sickness and in health thing years ago, with ‘sickness’ including being crazy-swamped with work and the other picking up the slack where needed.

We also negotiated a household and social life as highly driven and competitive alpha-males. Some years one earns more than the other. Sometimes one gets way more time in the spotlight than the other. Sometimes one gets lots of perks while the other gets a lump of coal. The score evens out. I’ve never believed I win when somebody else loses anyway. Neither does Ricky. Why would we bring that warped mentality into our home?

So, in all things, Ricky is my partner.

And on a regular basis, late at night, I whisper in his ear that I am so glad he’s my husband.

Today’s Gay Agenda: Sorry girls, I’m just not in-tune enough to lesbian land to know the rules there. Although I do hear lots of 50 year old women use the term ‘girlfriend’ and a brawl never seems to break out.

5 thoughts on “Term Limits”

  1. You know, after I read the first two lines of your reflection, the word “partner” came into my head — then later in your essay you used the word!

    Personal note: I am not gay and I don’t have a “partner” but I do have a “best friend” of the same sex and we share dreams, goals, and ourselves freely. So I guess it all depends on what context you give words!

  2. I understand where you are coming from and agree with you that some terms get outdated and other terms can make people physically sick. As a 23 year old gay man, in my own personal opinion, I never really felt comfortable using the phrase “partner.”

    Partners makes me think of a sports team; like we just work to achieve something, and there is nothing really between the two people but a common goal. I personally am not using it because I feel like it is just another word gays get like “civil union” and “domestic household” because people don’t want us using “husband” or “family.”

    I’m sure my perspective will change in a few years. Until then, I can’t say I will be using you. Your post however, makes a great point as to why people should.

  3. I say just forget the labels ~too confining and often cause preconceived assumptions. How about a simple: I’d like you to meet/this is. . . . . . Now let the fun begin. Craft your response to any follow up questions depending on the person asking, the situation, or how much personal info you want to share. Be creative, be outrageous, or be honest. Examples: This is Shelley, we met on the playground in 5th grade ~ this is Matt, we met in the back seat of a 69 Firebird and life has never been the same, this is Enrique, we’ve know each other for years, and share a love of entomology, specializing in Mexican dragon flies. Labels/schmabels!

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