Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the words I use to describe the people in my life. Though there are so many words to describe various relationships (friend, family, acquaintance, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, lover, significant other, etc), each one definitely carries a certain connotation. It was never really an issue for me until I started dating a trans guy.
To me, it seems my options are either “boyfriend” or “partner”. However, both of these words are problematic for me. Calling him my boyfriend strips me of my queer identity. When I casually drop that word in conversations, people automatically assume I’m straight. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not how I identify, and not how I want to be seen. When I say partner, on the other hand, it feels like I’m describing my long-term, committed lover who I’m destined to spend the rest of my life with…which is a little intense for me. I recently stumbled upon an article that touches upon these same kinds of issues. However, the issue of limiting words is not just an issue in queer relationships.
My mom has been dating her boyfriend (here I am again, using these words) for a few years now, and seems to be in the same boat as I am as far as naming the relationship. To her, a 40-something year old mom, it feels strange to call Len her boyfriend, as he’s a great deal older than her and by no means a “boy”. However, when she uses the word partner, everyone assumes she’s gay. It’s ironic, actually, that I am assumed straight by using boyfriend and she is assumed gay by using partner.
I can’t help but wish that we could come up with some better words to describe the complicated relationships that we all have without limiting ourselves so much. I’ve already considered luffer, partner in crime, sig o, tranny boyfriend, boi toy, and person, but none of those seem to hold a lot of weight. So, MSP readers, I challenge you…can you come up with new words to describe these types of relationships?