“Anyone want some shepherd’s pie?” my co-worker Beth asked, standing right where all of our cubicles converge. “Anyone?…” “Did you make it?” asked Lonnie. “No, I didn’t,” said Beth, “I can’t cook this kind of stuff.” “Who made it?” asked Lonnie. “Kim!” “Your sister Kim?” asked Deb. “No, Kim…. er, Alix’s gi…par…stel….n.”
I E-mailed my friend Lara. “She called her my giparsteln! She didn’t use an ACTUAL word!” “Maybe they’re in love with her, you know,” Lara wrote back. “Maybe they hate that you get to be with her and they don’t.” “Yeah, right.”
My co-workers, all single women, aren’t homophobic. They eat the food that Kim, a chef and my Civil Union partner of two and a half years, makes. They touch her on her arm and compliment her many hats and red shoelaces when she comes to visit me at work. They send her prison movies –her favorite- to watch. They know we are Civil Unioned, as gay people call it when we try to squeeze out an adjective that can explain what we are to each other, one that says, we’re not just in love, engaged, committed, we are as much as we can be. Kim and I, we’re as much as we can be in our state and in our country, but we’re not quite married. I don’t know what to call us. I know I don’t want to call us wifed.
It’s easier now to find a word that describes us independently. My lover, my life partner, my wife – these have all become acceptable, some in gay circles only, some in all circles. But there is no one word that equates that simple adjective “married.” Some people say we’re “together”, but to me that sounds too much like we bought tickets to the same show or like we need a table for two.
As much as it bothers me, I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t know what to call us. I don’t know what to call us. “My Civil Union partner” doesn’t always flow in conversation. I believe that, if we had all the civil rights that everyone else has, it wouldn’t matter if we were called married or Civil Unioned. Some of my gay friends mind that there’s a separate word for gay people, but I don’t. I just need everyone to agree on that adjective, so I can use it in my daily comings-out. “Are you married?” “I’m gaymarried.” I have to believe that some day, no one in my state, my country or the world, will care if we marry women or men, but I know that won’t be in my lifetime. “Are you married?” “Yes.” “To a woman or a man?” “A woman.” “Anyway…” Until then, I need to find a word that defines what Kim and I are together, and when I do, I will tell it to my co-workers.
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