My fiancee is a woman

So it turns out that when I am the one throwing up everywhere and I am the one incapable of walking across a room without stopping for multiple breaks, I can still write in my blog.  But when the love of my life is under the weather, it is far more important for me to clean the house, make the meals, buy orange juice and tissues and medicine, and be available.  And I think that this is the right way for things to be.  So, I’m sorry I disappeared briefly from blogland, but I think it was for the right reasons.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile is the way being engaged has changed my ability to/ the necessity of coming out to people on a regular basis.  I don’t mean “coming out” in a big huge way, like, “Wow I finally came out to my family and it was big and huge.”  I mean coming out in the little ways that happen almost in passing, with people who don’t really matter, like conversations I used to have at work: “Oh, you and your boyfriend are moving in together, and he’s bringing a dog and you’re bringing a cat?  Yeah, my girlfriend and I did that, and they get along fine now.”  You can substitute “girlfriend” for “partner”, but it still leaves (I think) a pretty distinct impression of who my person is, gender-wise.

Once we became “officially” engaged, Turtle was no longer my girlfriend, but my fiancèe. Interestingly, when spoken, fiancèe (for a woman) sounds exactly like fiancè (for a man).  It’s a fun little temporary game where I know I’m not coming out every time I mention Turtle, as long as I avoid pronouns… or just mutter them. In fact, sometimes I’ll just skip over them.

“Oh yeah, my fiancèe is currently unemployed.”
“Oh, what does he do for work?”
“Used to work in nonprofit development, but now *mumble* is looking for ….” etc.

Depending on who it is, I will correct them – “Oh, SHE used to work in nonprofit development…” – but more often then not, I just move along and sort of marvel at the assumptions people make.  It’s not that I don’t want people to know I’m dating a woman; it’s more that they don’t need to know, and it’s an interesting sort of social experiment to watch their reactions and my reactions in the whole conversation.  Plus, in slightly less than 6 months, this game will be over – “wife” is not a very gender-neutral term.

What would you do in this situation?  Have you dealt with this at all? I’m curious…

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8 Comments

Filed under gay, Relationships

8 responses to “My fiancee is a woman

  1. I have to say that I am in a place now where I either try to get a word in that suggests thegayness (wife and partner both work pretty well in my relationship now, but it was hard before the wedding because I did want to claim the term fiancee) or supply the correct pronoun in my response if the person has clearly assumed I’m with a mandude. I might hold a few sentances off if the correction requires seriously awkward syntax, but getting in a “she” is usually not that hard. Unless I have a reason to think I’m not safe, I feel pretty strongly about the importance of the little daily comings-out. I think most people I’m interacting with should know, especially if it’s a positive interaction. I’m trying to change the world for my children, you know?

  2. Oh, no! I misspelled sentences! The HORROR.

  3. Raffe

    Preface: I am really enjoying your blog, Bird. Thanks for writing.

    You’re not alone! I’m not engaged, but I recently moved from New England to Minnesota to live with my girlfriend. Interestingly, I’ve found it easy to ‘come out’ (casually) while out in the Midwest, where I don’t know anyone, nor have any familial connections. Inevitably, in a conversation it will come up that I’ve moved here from NE, the other party asks why, and I simply answer “My girlfriend lives here,” and the conversation moves on.

    However, when at home in NE, and people ask me why I’ve moved, I find myself hesitant. “For a change of scene,” I say, hating myself. If I’m talking to peers of my parents, I’m even less likely to say the truth, not knowing what they may already know, and not wanting it to somehow affect my parents’ professional lives.

    It’s easy, I think, with strangers: we don’t care particularly about what they think, and as small of a world as it is, it is relatively unlikely that a coming-out comment to them will greatly affect my life. Lying by omission is easy, too.

    I’m still trying to reconcile my fear of homophobia and rejection with the knowledge that sooner or later, the truth will come out (teehee). So far I’ve had varying degrees of success.

  4. Ellie Leonardsmith

    I really love these little comings-out, especially because I’m so heteronormative.

    I think: ‘Hahaha. I tricked you by looking like a girly girl!’

    It brings me joy.

    I think it’s especially important for people to see all types of people can be gay… you really can’t assume anything!

    I don’t know if I told you the story of my job in NY where I was working with only middle-aged women, and every time I talked about my girlfriend (we weren’t engaged yet) they just assumed I meant a friend (they all talked about their girlfriends). Because I didn’t clear things up properly at the very beginning, it became very confusing. I wasn’t sure how to tell them… “NO, not like that kind of girlfriend. We’re.. you know… FUCKING.” Anyway, after that job I vowed to make things clear IMMEDIATELY at a new job or situation in which I would be around for a while…

  5. I totally know what you mean. Planning a wedding really made coming out a regular occurance. Some people totally got it and some people were terribly clueless. I actually wrote a blog post about this when I was planning my wedding too http://binationalbride.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-cant-wait-to-call-her-my-wife.html

  6. mandi

    Ha. I agree with Ellie. I sort of like the “ha I tricked you” moment. I work in a large Christian owned health system in Florida and because of the uniform that I wear people never assume gayness about me. People tend to get to be my friend, then realize I’m a huge lesbo and somehow they are more okay with it. Like they can’t NOT be my friend after the fact, so it changes their perception of what it means to be gay. I’m married. My wife and I own a house together. We clean and do yard work. It’s all very normal and boring, really.

    It is a little annoying that I am constantly having that exact conversation where you have to toss in a “partner” or “she” just to get the point across, but I’m not offended by the assumptions they make. I think of it as making a difference a little bit at a time.

    PS I just started blogging on wordpress about moving to Vermont and started reading your blog.

  7. These are all really interesting thoughts… thanks for commenting!

    I want to clarify that I am not necessarily *avoiding* coming out – but I am intrigued by the fact that for this little window of time between dating and being married, I have the option of talking about the person I’m in a relationship with *without* coming out. I think that’s kind of neat, and interesting, and I will be done with it very soon. At the same time as it makes it possible to not come out, it also makes me more aware of when I do, and when I can, and the effect it has. All in all a very interesting experience, though I think there is a lot, a LOT, to be said for coming out all the time to everyone. We are here and we are not going to hurt you or destroy your marriage.

    @Raffe, I think it’s an interesting point you bring up about coming out to strangers vs. family/friends, whether coming out is in regards to the person you’re in a relationship with or your reason for moving across the country. I think I would have a similar reaction … also, I think it’s awesome that you’re in MN.

    and @mandi, welcome! I would love to read your blog if you send me the link! Thanks for reading!

  8. Pingback: Pride and bruises « Roughing It

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