Tuesday, May 02, 2006


naming us

I have always been one for words. I love language. If you know me, you'll know that I have a tendency to go on socio-linguistic rants. Words and signs have so much imbedded meaning and the way that we use and interpret them can profoundly affect the way we view the world and the way the world views us.

In the last few days, three people have referred to N and I as partners or have asked us if we are such. It has made me think of what exactly that means word "partner" means to folk, queer and straight. I feel like in most of liberal society straight folk get married and gay people have partners. There's no assuption of action, it's something we aquire, or fall into. We have partners.

If straight folk don't get married, but have partners, people wonder about their actual commitment to their other. That assumption could have seriously negative affect on the idea of gay folk having partners. Is a gay partnership less serious than a marriage if a straight partnership is viewed that way?

And in the case of my boss, he just assumed that we were partners because we are 2 happy, inlove dykes and because he is a good liberal nonprofit president and so therefore he wants to use appropriate terminology. I appreciate his need and want to be appropriate and PC, but I feel no different than my collegue R and the boy with whom she loves and lives. She has no diamond on her finger (yet) and neither do I (yet). We are in the courtship phase. N and I are girlfriends. No one would call R's boyfriend her partner, that would be weird. It's the same with me and my N.

Eventually many queer folk do officially commemerate their own commitment, some in ceremony, some in other, less formal ways. Some folk call their co-commitee (oy, read that again...), partner, wife, husband, other half, ball and chain, etc, whatever. In my mind, and please, I do not mean to offend, I just do not like the term partner by itself. I've explained that I don't like the political connotation, but just viserally, partner, to me, is not a sexy term. It's about as romantic as commitment ceremony (once again, no offense meant, I prefer the term wedding, ahem, ahem). It all sounds a little belabored and PC. It feels like something you use to make sure that your health insurance is in order. As N said, it's pretty much a legalism (leave it to my lawyer girfriend to bring up Domestic Partner registries). It might make sense for folk who don't believe in marriage or who feel silly talking marriage when it's a right not available to so many of us. Me, and this I realize is a personal thing, I want to be married someday and I want to both be a wife and have a wife. I'm an old fashioned girl, what can I say??

I get why people like my boss want to call N my partner. We're in a serious relationship. He probably forgot her name. And he knows we're gay. But by calling us partners I feel like he is discounting the possibility that we could make a bigger, more official commitment to each other someday down the road. By saying partner he has already called us what we may someday be, not allowing us to have what straight folk have- a courtship, an engagement and a ceremony (be it a wedding or court marriage or whatever, it's some sort of commitment ceremony). Somehow, because we're gay and we are in love we must be partners. Which is sweet and very liberal of him in many ways. But then I am a traditional girl. And I call it what it is. And yes, I want all that marriagy stuff later on down the road. But there's no reason to rush into something. And there's no reason to call it something that it isn't. I'm head-over-heels-happy-in-love with my girlfriend right now. Why rush when so good and right.

N is my lover, my best friend, the one who I want to see everyday when I wake up and go to sleep. She is my lover and my biggest fan. Being with her is feeling safe and happy and peaceful and full and just so loved. I love her more than I can say on a blog. And definitely more than I SHOULD say in a blog. Let's leave it at I'm very much in love with her and the rest is between us. And you know what? I feel very much partnered. But she isn't my partner. Not yet. I think it's great that she's my girlfriend. I love this elongated feeling of courtship and the continual falling in love that I've been able to do with N for the last months. Why hurry something this good? Today I want only to breath her in and live our life and yes, think of the future- but not so much to cover our actual reality. Which is that we're in love, and we're working things out the way that people do. We learn and learn and learn about eachother every day. And everyday I learn something new about N that I love.

We're great girlfriends, lovers, and sweethearts and though someday I hope to call her my partner (when I'm filling out some health insurance forms or something) today is definitely not that day.

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