::Scarlett gingerly dips her toe into the Great Debates waters::
In this thread, there’s a discussion about children raised by gay/lesbian parents. One respondent mentioned her “aunt’s wife,” followed by another poster’s mention of “my husband and I” raising a daughter. In this particular thread one could easily assume that the one with the husband was a gay man – but she turned out to be a bi woman.
I’d like to start a discussion of the use of the terms “husband” and “wife” within gay/lesbian marriages. I’m neither endorsing nor condemning it – just gathering opinions and commentary. Do you find it confusing, or a natural extension? After all, a wife is a female spouse; a husband is a male spouse. Depending on the context, sometimes I have to do some mental gymnastics to figure out whose gender is what, if it’s not clear that we’re talking about a gay or lesbian couple.
Of course, that opens up the can of whether it’s really important to know someone’s gender and/or sexual orientation. For me, I don’t give a flip as to whether you’re gay, straight, male, female, green or purple – but it is something interesting to know about you, and it does help with the pronouns.
I really don’t have many personal referents to go on – the only lesbian married couple I’ve known (now dissolved :() referred to each other as “partners” – the safe way out (you should excuse the pun), since they were business partners as well in their tiny (-minded) town.
Is this just something that needs time to be absorbed into the language, just as acceptance of gay couples is making progress? Does using the term “wife” assume a husband, and vice versa, or is that just straight-oriented programming at work? Should we all (gay and straight couples alike) adopt “spouse” as a fully inclusive term? Would legalization of full-fledged same-sex marriage make a difference? What’s used in gay and lesbian literature, fiction and nonfiction?
(Confession time: As you might expect, I’m wrestling with my white-bread WASP upbringing here. I’m lucky that the longer I’ve lived on my own, I’ve been able to seek out and acquire more diverse friends, interests, and experiences. Same-sex marriage is fine with me – if you can find love, more power to you, no matter whether your sexual equipment matches. But dang it, although I don’t bat an eye when my gay/lesbian friends talk about a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, the terms “wife” and “husband” in that context sound . . . not wrong . . . weird. I hate that I think that way. I think I’m trying to fix it with this thread. I’d also like to fix the fact that I “notice” when I see a black person in this lily-white hick town.)