Tag Archives: Marriage

Two Foxes

Hi, there. I’m JD Fox.

And my husband of nearly twenty years, as of today, is Gary Alton Fox.

I am moved by this in multiple ways, including simply being touched and honored that he has taken my name. But I also can’t help but think of it in terms of queer history and its significance.

Non-queers have both the luxury and burden of a privileged status that already has rules of convention in place for not only what a marriage looks like but what happens to the names. This is not to say they are good norms — they are quite sexist in fact — but just that they exist.

They can be followed or not followed, but they are there nonetheless.

Gary and I got married at a time – 1996, the year of DOMA — when we weren’t recognized legally as such. We even battled with our religious organization over using the term marriage in our wedding ceremony; of using the term wedding.

The kind of battle where people take sides and our side was the minority; only a fraction of people showed up to our wedding, compared to a full house and unilateral support for non-queer unions.

But we got married, considered ourselves married, and winged it, having to create what it meant to us from scratch with little social support and no real point of reference other than our love for one another.

When we legally married in 2013, we kept our names. After all, we’d already been married in our hearts and faith for 17 years. So that year’s Justice of the Peace visit and subsequent paperwork was just a bureaucratic formality, right? Just a way of getting those 1000+ benefits…

Yet it didn’t feel like just a formality. Far from it. The kind of far that I’m not sure a non-queer person can truly appreciate. The kind of far that has little to do with matters of benefit and more to do with matters of heart.

We deliberately chose to be with each other all those years ago and reaffirmed that decision in 2013, winging it as well. We talked about names and hyphenated names without a convention to either go with or go against.

At the time, we each decided to keep our name.

But that was then and this is now, and Gary, by his winged choice, is now a Fox; we are Mr. and Mr. Fox.

Has a nice ring to it, don’t it?

Becoming a Vermonter

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so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

Okay, so I need to get in the habit of regular blogging. I mean that’s what you are supposed to do, right? No one just works on stories and poems any more. You need to ensure your social platform is regularly infused with new content to stay visible.

Often what happens, though, is my brain is so regularly infused with new content, and the subsequent new new content that comes from that then old new content getting processed a half-dozen different ways, is many things that might at the moment be cool (I think) to blog about end up getting buried instead.

But at this moment — and that’s all we ever really have — I feel like it might be cool to talk a little bit about our new place and new city and maybe even throw in a why or two, even though why questions by their very nature can be dangerous in the hands of the philosophically careless and any purported answers to them should be handled with kid gloves if handled at all.

But such thinking is for later posts — unless that thinking gets buried and stays buried — and at this moment I’m thinking of Gary and me both having places to work in our new place. The picture at the beginning is my particular work area and shows the table where I did my current paying work today of checking papers submitted to Public Library of Science, ensuring metadata is accurate and that the manuscripts are formatted correctly and so on.

And yes, there is an empty box there at the back and also a swath of brown paper on the floor near the front. What can I say? Our cats love boxes, especially from Amazon. As for the brown paper, it is the special kind of packing paper that you sometimes get in those empty boxes when they aren’t empty yet.

Amber, our young female cat, goes nuts over the crinkly, crackly claw-friendly stuff. She plays with it in all sorts of self-entertaining ways. She covers herself with it, dives into it, and hides things under it. She nestles it, shreds it, and in general has a right good time rearranging it like it is all the cat’s meow this side of feline origami.

So we keep it and an empty box or two at the expense of looking a little trashy.

As you probably can guess from that, my space is shared space.

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But there is enough room that it isn’t too bad, as Amber frequently finds other places to be.

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As far as that goes, and it goes pretty far, our oldest cat hangs out in the shared space, too, loving the couch. But he also finds other parts of the apartment to his liking.

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As far as outside our apartment, the best way to describe it is green. Mountains and green with small towns separated by miles and miles of this incredibly beautiful mountainous green. So beautiful I’m thinking at this moment that it maybe should be a post in itself, along with talking about what all is within walking distance of us now that we are living in the smallest capital in the nation.

So I’ll just jump forward to a blog-entry-ending why. Although there are many why‘s, as there always is, one of the most significant why‘s is answered by something we didn’t think we would see in our lifetime.

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With section three of DOMA struck down and the visit to the Justice of the peace that we took soon after moving here, our well over 17 years of marriage is now a marriage that is not only legally recognized by Vermont and 12 other living-in-the-twenty-first-century states, but Federally recognized as well.

The importance of this ruling is huge.

Huge enough that it totally changes the why question. It is no longer just a Why should we move to Vermont? Instead, with Indiana being as legislatively hateful as it was, is, and continues to strive to be, it is Why on earth would we stay?

He’s My Husband Not My Couch

Language is an arbitrary system of articulated sounds made use of by a group of humans as a means of carrying on the affairs of their society (Francis 1958:13) [my emphasis]

I think that’s close to the definition my mom shared with me over three decades ago as we discussed reading, writing, and the power of both. I was in elementary school then and am relying on memory now, but the impression it made on me has kept 80% of her exact wording intact despite no active effort on my part to remember it.

We are so used to using words, we sometimes forget that words in and of themselves have no inherent meaning. One doesn’t go digging out in the desert and uncover the word “Dog”, or even “Sand” for that matter. Rather we develop a system where we can make an utterance that another fellow user of that system will understand we are talking about dog and sand if that is what we are needing to convey to them.

Persons who oppose marriage equality often accuse me of redefining marriage. But that’s misunderstanding how language works. Definitions, like cultures, are never static. They come out of society’s need to communicate certain ideas, not the other way around.

This need is society dependent. As such, between any two societies there can be whole swaths of words that are utterly absent from one or the other, or are at the least quite cumbersome to translate if they can be translated at all.

For purposes of this blog entry, the Yanomamo tribe of Indians comes to mind. Familial relationships are important to them in carrying out their affairs. So where we use the generic word Aunt and Uncle to describe a sibling of either our mother or our father, they have a separate word for each, instantly letting the listener know with a high degree of specificity what the person’s exact relationship is to them.

Likewise, when I am allowed to use the word husband to describe Gary — which I am prevented from doing so in the course of filling out any number of heterosexist forms, such as taxes — any listener or reader in my culture instantly knows where he fits into my life.

They know we are not shacked up. They know I’m not referencing a business partner. They don’t think he is just one of many others in my life who are significant. Nor do they think I am referring to a fellow member of a union that requires dues.

And they sure as heck don’t think I’m talking about the davenport in my living room, the Internet, or cell phones.

Only someone being deliberately ignorant would claim to be confused by my use of husband. Only the slyly disingenuous would say they do not know what I am meaning when I say, He is my husband. Only those who are being maliciously incendiary would assert that I’m using the term husband in some wholly foreign way comparable to using it to refer to a tree or a rock or a box turtle.

For we as a society have a common bond of shared language that allows this effective, and wholly unambiguous, piece of straightforward — and honest — communication:

I am married.

I have a husband.

His name is Gary.

Three simple sentences that you don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader to understand. Nor do you need a dictionary for comprehension.