It's like a hobby, my interest in love relationships. The topic, I mean. I ponder and pontificate about it more than most people, I would guess, and -- after the experience of making Life in a Box, spending 3 years examining, making some sense of, and figuring out how to present narratively my own most significant love relationship -- I think I may have some small wisdom to share on the subject. (But, of course, it's a case of the more you know, the more you find you don't know.)
Last night, I was at the bar I go to, having a conversation with a guy I talk to. He was telling me something about something, and he said, "my buddy, my other half," referring to the man he's been involved with and lived with for many years. I was struck by the word "buddy," and how probably 10 years ago I would have regarded his use of it as a bit pathetic, a vestige of the closet. Or, I would have thought, maybe it's how he refers to his partner when he's in straight male settings where he doesn't feel safe being out. (We say we've come out of the closet, but honestly we're in and out of it all day long.) It would have struck me as a sad word, in the same category as calling a boyfriend "my friend" or the substitution of gender-neutral pronouns -- "they" instead of "he" -- when talking to a co-worker about a date.
But last night it sounded, simply, like the right word. This guy is his buddy, not his lover, not his husband. Guys use the word buddy for a friend they have a deep bond with, a history, maybe someone with whom they're emotionally more open than usual. A guy who knows them better than their other friends. Drinking buddy. Fishing buddy.
Homosexual relationships aren't the same as heterosexual relationships. The reason they aren't the same -- and this is so obvious that I think it gets overlooked -- is that we are of the same sex. And sure there are ways in which we can mimic heterosexual relationships, for altruistic reasons (for instance, to adopt children) or for selfish reasons (to gain acceptance), but by pretending that they are, in fact, the same denigrates homosexual and heterosexual relationships. The people who are fighting for "marriage equity" are saying that there is no difference between them and that the marriage laws are discriminatory. I see good reason to discriminate. I think it's untruthful not to.
I've never felt like the particulars of my life were covered by or included among the outlines we get. I never wanted a job, I never wanted to own a home, never wanted to get married. (That's not strictly true; I have momentarily wanted each of these things, only because I thought they might bring some comfort or security, not because I thought I would flourish in them.) Even if I were heterosexual I would rail against the institutions I rail against now: marriage, the military, academia, private property, the market economy, etc. I used to think homosexual orientation was the cause of being so at odds with the world, but apparently that's not the case since there are so many homos now fighting to be included in that foundational institution of institutions.