Four months from this weekend, K and I will be married. Very exciting, and good to know the wedding is pretty much planned (Sunday brunch at a beautiful historic hotel, about 50 people, informal and, we hope, elegant).
As K and I go forward, planning our wedding, marriage, house, honeymoon, merging the canine kids, deciding who's popcorn machine gets to stay, adjusting to in-law's, etc., we are going through pretty much the same process as any straight couple would be. Except for one big exception --- what they hell do we call each other?
Like it or not, the world consists of us labelling each other. Mr. Mrs. Doctor. Colonel. Bride. Judge. Rabbi. In-law. Father. Academy-Award Winner. Felon. President. First Lady. Son. Husband. Wife.
So when a married couple is not a husband and wife, and is two guys, do you go with husband and husband? Or is that, well, weird?
For some people not an issue. Ellen and Portia call each other wife and wife very matter-of-factly. So do Wanda Sykes and her wife. And why shouldn't they, as two women who are legally married to each other?
Husband? Partner? Spouse?
Putting aside those who believe that we will burn in hell for being gay -- that's you, Rush Limbaugh, Mr on your fourth wedding while out there protecting the virtues of 'traditional marriage' --- getting married is getting married. And getting married is about building a family, for the emotional and social significance, and the legal protection (look at A Single Man, where a guy loses his partner of 16years and the family blocks him from attending the funeral, and even keeps their dog).
Shortly after K and I decided to get married, we walked into a meeting with the architect designing our house, and K introduced me as his fiance. I was startled for a brief second (yikes, hope I hid that one); not in a bad way, just in a "hmm, I hadn't thought of that label" kind of way.
Now some time has passed and I am all over the fiance label. I use it, I like it, it feels romantic and significant and long-lasting. What's next?
Once we are married (countdown four months), what do we call each other? Husband and husband?
My fiance (see, using that one!) is going to use 'husband'. And me? Over the last 18 months I have gone from calling him my boyfriend to calling him my partner. Okay, actually I have gone from calling him 'some guy' to 'that cute guy' to my boyfriend to my partner. So what's next?
I had planned on using 'partner'. But that inclination has faded as the wedding approaches, as it won't be new or deeper somehow; I use 'partner' to refer to K now, and truth be told may have used it in other relationships before, so what is different about being married?
In addition to wanting a new and weightier label, and one that I have never used before as this is my first and only marriage (take that, Limbaugh), I am proud to be an out gay man getting married in a place where I can be fully and legally married (take that, Banderson Booper and the state of California). So for personal and political reasons, I don't think the label 'partner' is enough, and 'husband' it will be...