One common problem that is considered in Queer theory is the absence of words to discuss some aspects of life. The vocabulary of life is controlled by dominant forces and therefore minority cases (whether numerical or social minority) are often left without the appropriate forces of language to discuss and therefore give social substance to those minority cases.
This topic has come to my mind more frequently lately as I think about the nature of the relationship that Chris and I have. We have been together since 2003, in some form or another. I suppose a fair appraisal of the history of our relationship might suggest that it has existed in its present form since 2004, so we have been in this present relationship for about 8 years. In all of that time we have not established any sort of formal name for the relationship and we have no way of referring to each other outside of “boyfriend”. There are aspects of the relationship which would be consistent with that status, but there are also elements of our relationship which is more brotherly. I am less concerned with having a specific title that covers all of the criteria of the relationship and more concerned with the lack of available options. The term “boyfriend” is loaded, especially in a gay context. In a gay context “boyfriend” almost has temporal limitations. In a normative world “boyfriend” lacks the level of seriousness that our relationship has achieved. In some instances there can also be a very adolescent interpretation of it. While Chris and I are both still young, our relationship is not that new and is certainly not temporally limited. In the gay context a popular term is “partner”. That word just annoys me. It is a sexually agnostic term that can mean anything. Chris and I are partners, but I would not use that as a defining point of our relationship. We are partners in a variety of projects ranging from home-improvement tasks (both our own and those of my aunt) to software development. “Partner” just isn’t the right depth of word for my feelings or the relationship that exists. I have seen “husband” used a bit in the gay context as well, both for married and non-married couples. In my state I cannot legally marry, and I don’t know if Chris would marry me if we could. The term certainly has the right severity for the relationship, but comes with the baggage of history from normative culture as well as the modern implications of the term potentially being temporary. While I may ultimately wish that status, it is not something that is an option today and I’m not entirely sure that even if we were married it would be accurate enough for the complexity of the relationship, and the shit that comes with the title from patriarchal systems of power just isn’t worth it.
I am left without a proper title for the most important person in my life. It is thoughts like these that remind me that I am in a minority situation and that majority culture does not respect me or my relationship.