Sunday, July 27, 2014

Common Usage

Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin'”. For my money, the times are a-changin' a lot more now than when Dylan sang his song. For the better? Maybe.

I brought my car to a mechanic to have the transmission fluid changed. While I sat in the waiting room, watching TV, another guy, 30-something, came in and sat down. We struck up a conversation, during which he mentioned he was new to the area. I asked if he moved here for business reasons. He said, "Yes, my HUSBAND is the new librarian at such-and-such college."

I didn't jump out of my seat aghast, red-faced and sputtering, quoting bible verses and condemning him to hell. On the other hand, my brain twisted a bit. It was the first time I had ever heard a member of my own sex refer to his wedded partner as “husband”.

I'm not cloistered. I have gay friends. I have gay relatives. I've been part of the wedding party at a gay marriage. This was the first time, however, that I'd ever heard that usage in casual conversation. I'd heard "spouse" many times, and the ubiquitous “partner”, but never "husband" from another guy.

I posted about it on Facebook. Some younger (and obviously hipper) folks told me it's fairly common usage now. I opined, half-jokingly, that it certainly makes the situation clear. Not only have you been told the person you're with is gay, but also that he's happily married and won't be hitting on you.

(I say that not because I expect gay men to be inexplicably attracted to my semi-ancient self, but because it truly makes life easier to know such things. I now realize I could have done the same sort of favor for him by saying something along the lines of “My WIFE has always wanted to be a librarian, too!”, but in reality she hasn't. She says she's always wanted to be dead – at least since we've been married - and saying that probably would have confused matters rather than clarifying them.)

Seriously, though, the first thought for me was pride that I didn't automatically go gape-mouthed and slack-jawed. Then, after leaving the garage, I reflected further. What a condescending son of a bitch I am. Even if I wasn't visibly fazed, who am I to be proud of that? I'm far from perfect. I smoke cigarettes, I admit to owning the entire recorded output of Grand Funk Railroad and I vote for Libertarians. These days, many people consider all of those things to be psychological aberrations more than they do homosexuality. Meanwhile, this guy was just casually stating, during the course of friendly conversation, that he was in a committed monogamous relationship with another human being. Does he need me to sanctify that in some way? Hell, no.

I'm a Christian, and something of a fundamentalist at that, so religiously I'm not comfortable with it. But the libertarian part of me doesn't believe in forcing my beliefs on others. And there's that whole “love thy neighbor” thing, too. Live and let live. And, oh yeah, same sex marriage is legal in my state, so, uh... I think next time maybe I'll change my own transmission fluid. It requires less thought.

Soon, with more better halves.



Craig said...

I get this, Sully. Believe me, I do.

I've got gay and lesbian family members, and 'SSA' friends, and, devout Catholic that I am, I've arrived at a position that plays something like, "You and I are both (a) human persons made in God's image and likeness, with all the dignity attendant to that, and (b) sinners in need of God's mercy. So I'm willing to leave you to deal with God on your 'stuff', and I'll deal with Him on mine (but I do strongly recommend that you do actually deal with God on it, and give serious weight to His opinion).

And, whereas I might think that the whole 'queer life' is not, at the bottom, really good for you, in the spirit of point (a) above, my first duty is to love you.

Now, the irony of these 'changin' times' is that I, as a committed Christian, am at least as likely to receive vocal public disapproval as my gay/lesbian friends/family are. Maybe more. . .

Buck said...

I admit to owning the entire recorded output of Grand Funk Railroad...

It took a LOT o' courage for you to come out of that closet. I'm surprised Obama hasn't called to congratulate you.

Hilary said...

"Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'."

Yeah, for the better, methinks.

Daryl said...

i say good on you

Craig said...

And hey - Grand Funk Railroad! Michigan band! (I'm a big fan of 'Closer to Home')


Should Fish More said...

Yeah, takes a little practice and thought, but even we geezers can come to accept people on their own terms. We can think what we like, what counts is how we treat each other. Everybody deserves to be treated with respect (well, damn near everybody), and everybody deserves love.

Shammickite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shammickite said...

There are so many worse things going on in the world than gay marriage. Lets worry about that instead.
Yes, the times they are definitely a'changin'.

joeh said...

People do it believe it, but I did not know that homosexual behavior existed until I was over 20. We used terms like sissy and fag, but the actual behavior was something I did not understand or even believe existed.

Being accepting of the gay life style is clearly nothing to be proud of, it should be the norm, but yeah, at least from my, our, generation it took a bit more to reach that correct position.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Good post.

I don't understand that lifestyle because I can't reconcile it to mine.

Just because I don't understand it doesn't mean I have to judge it.
There are sufficient others to handle that chore.

To those others I say, keep it to yourself.

I'm not ready to confess my aberrations, yet.

Suldog said...

Thank you for all the very thoughtful commentary. I very much appreciate it.

Ami said...

I have more than one family member who is gay. One who is bi.

And they all say the thing they really, really hate is someone who works too hard to show 'hey, I'm okay with *you people*'.

They are just like everyone else.

I liked this post because it made me think a little and is one I can pass on to people who, in my opinion, could be just a teeny bit more thoughtful.

Will share on Facebook.

Brighton Pensioner said...

I, too, completely fail to understand that lifestyle, but it's their life, and who am I to judge?

messymimi said...

Being a crazy church lady, i have to completely agree with Craig.

Barbara Shallue said...

I know exactly what you mean, from the beginning to the end. I think I've traveled the same thought-journey myself before.

lime said...

i am glad for this man that he felt safe enough in this time, place, and context to be willing to share that information. certainly it has not always been so.