Sunday, March 26th, 2023

What term do we want to use for the person we married?

Billy GloverRE: today’s Daily Queer News

February 14, 2013.

Dear Tracy Baim:

Regarding  the news that the Associated Press does not want to use the term husband or wife when referring to the married partner in a same sex marriage.

I think the first question should be: Why this new rule?  What is the motive? Is it anti-gay or just semantics?

The next point should be a discussion in the LGBT media, even though this “issue” has been around since ONE Magazine first talked about it in the 1950s and ’60s. What do your readers think? What term(s) do they use? Even the AP says that if the two people have used the term, then it may be used.

Is this an issue in such efforts as how the military will cover their married LGBT members? Or in dealing with adoptions? Do we decide on how we feel, or how the public feels?

It had been considered not as an issue of second-class citizenship but as a logical effort to defang the issue, that all married partners be called spouses. There is no one appointed or qualified to decide such matters for all of us. And we do not want to appear to be anxious to copy heterosexuals. This is a minor issue when we consider that the legal and pr battles for marriage, employment, etc. have not been won.

Many of us have no interest in the whole issue, so those who do find this important can wage the battle. But the AP, which has not always been a gay-friendly organization/service, is not the decider—any more than it can decide if the word homophobia is acceptable.


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  1. Victor A. Salvo

    The AP has already banned the word “homophobia”—a move of which I do NOT approve.I lament any LGBT publication or blog that acquiesces to this unilateral judgment of what words are, and are not, allowed. There is no other word for the irrational fear of homosexuals which underlies all of the political posturing, social apoplexy, and religious histrionics built upon it.This latest attempt by the AP to alter the English language so that no one will ever know if the “spouse” in question is of the same gender may render same-sex marriage seemingly neutral, but it also has the effect of making it invisible. And by rendering it as invisible we deny society the chance to become familiar with it.We are at least a decade away from society viewing same-sex marriages as value neutral—if indeed such a time should ever come to pass. Until then I reject any attempt to pretend we have already won a cultural war that continues. And homophobia is alive and well—in spite of the AP’s attempts to re-write the English language.Had gay people attempted to change these words the world would howl. I do not understand why we must be complicit in it.

  2. Billy Glover

    While I had not thought of your point, that using the term spouse “hides” the sex of the marriage partner, I do not think it is relevant. IF we are not seeking “approval” of our lives, we don’t CARE. AND, in most cases, the name will say which sex the partner is.

  3. hillray

    I have always called my wonderful others “my companion,” taken from several historic references about Alexander and Hephaistian. Now in keeping with today’s attitudes, I refer to couples as “spouses.”BTW: I have had seven wonderful men in my life, four died of AIDS, two were murdered only one remains, he is now married and he and his wife named their son after me (his middle name is Ray).

  4. Billy Glover

    I lived with Melvin for about 13 years, never once thought about what to call him. I am not sure what he and Peter B. call themselves. BUT it is an “issue” since they both have medical problems and have to deal with each other at the hospital, etc.BUT, I always liked the word companion, as I liked the song, “Be My Life’s Companion.” I’m not sure who sings it. And that is an interesting idea, about Alexander.

  5. Jason Parsley

    When it comes to gay couples people refer to their other halves in many ways. I’ve been with my partner for 12 years and usually still refer to him as my boyfriend. We live in Florida where marriage isn’t allowed. We both believe that until marriage has some legal value we’re not going to get married for the sake of getting married. I think it has to be considered on a case by case.

  6. Billy Glover

    I think that is the best way—how we ourselves feel and what makes us comfortable. What we all object to is someone else—certainly anti-gay people-telling us what is pc.

  7. Sephanie Donald

    I had an extensive conversation with my friend, Brody Levesque, who is now not only the Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for the magazine LGBTQ-Nation but is now the bureau chief for all LGBT stories for Associated Press in Washington.The decision to drop “homophobia” from the stories carried by the AP wasn’t because it was overused or any other reason they cited. It was simply because the head of AP was himself homophobic and didn’t believe we deserved the allusion of that we’re actually being discriminated against. The insinuation here is that we didn’t deserve a claim of prejudice since we had made so many advances.Brody responded by telling them that he would damned well use “homophobia” and any other word he wanted to that was appropriate to the story that was applicable.I thought their ban was quite amusing considering that two days after the hub-bub came down the pike, four major AP stories used the word “homophobia” loosely and freely and no one bothered to edit them out.Of course the idea that AP actually reads and edits stories before they post them nowadays is a real laugh riot because the spelling and grammatical errors in each and every article are a laugh riot. I’ve seen better writing out of 5th graders in my day then the majority of newspaper, magazine and online articles I’ve read in the past 10 years.

  8. Wayne Dynes

    I am currently completing a book on the regrettable multiple roots of homophobia. I am aware of the objection that it is not, clinically speaking, a phobia. But the term has become established, and rightly so, because it designates a complex set of irrational fears, beliefs, and feelings. Those who harbor these hurtful stereotypes must be encouraged to look within themselves in order to see if they can discard them. They will be the better for it.The word homophobia encourages them to do so. Homosexuality is not a disorder; but homophobia is.

  9. Billy Glover

    A good project, but, as may be the discussion on the better terms for GLBT married people, it may be academic—who cares??? AP may die, but our movement and issues will keep going.

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