There is no wife, plain and simple.
A comment in the Indy Star that was probably only half-joking asked me how Gary and I decided who the “husband” was and who was the “wife”. I had referred to Gary as my husband in my post, which prompted his display of either his ignorance or what he thinks is humor.
Either way, I thought I would spend some time on this topic, which might actually be on the mind of even some otherwise enlightened people. In the above paragraph, I do not use ignorance as a pejorative. Ignorance can be a bridge if we want it to be.
Now how I’m going to explain things is from my view. That should be a given, but sometimes it isn’t as much a given as you would expect. I do not represent Gay People but only my gay self. Still, I hope my perspective sheds light.
Usually when people are thinking of being a wife, they are meaning who is the “female”. And, as is the mind of the typical American, that usually cashes out as who is the “female” when you have sex, which further cashes out as who is penetrated.
Sex and love reduced to penetration has an unfortunately rich religious history (Paul the apostle’s writings, for example) which is probably why it is so maliciously pervasive. But there are a couple other erroneous reductions to roles that likewise contribute to misunderstanding of being gay that I think might make for a better first grasp than jumping headfirst into penises and where they go.
These other reductions typically lump distinctly different concepts together. They surely can be together, as many concepts can be, but it is the failure to mentally understand that they are indeed distinct that bring about ignorance.
The first, gender appearance.
Some persons are more comfortable to wear clothes more appropriate of the opposite gender. Now that is worth an essay in itself as to how “appropriate” gets constructed by a social group. But the point is, it is a commonplace enough notion that at our wedding someone asked us who was going to wear the dress.
I don’t own a dress. Gary doesn’t own a dress. We wear “men’s” clothes as far as I know, as that is what we are comfortable wearing. This does not take a stand for or against men, gay or straight, who wear “women’s” clothes. It is just to make the often lost distinction that being gay has nothing to do with the clothes you wear.
You can be gay and wear a dress. You can be gay and wear pants. You can be straight and wear a dress. You can be straight and wear pants.
Some persons are more comfortable identifying with themselves (their societal “role”, which again is another loaded word beyond the scope of this piece) as someone anatomically (by at least physical appearances) of the opposite gender.
This identity is separate from Gender appearance and sexual identity. An anatomical male who knows his identity is a female isn’t necessarily attracted to men. He can be, or rather she can be, but the anatomy of the body’s matching the brain’s gender identification is wholly separate from sexual orientation.
For myself, and Gary’s, our bodies anatomically match our gender identification.
The point is that all three distinctions — sexual orientation, appearance, and anatomical matching — can be present in any possible combination, and are. But they are always three separate components that have come together to make the whole person, rather than being automatically bundled up together.
So back to the person’s remark.
I am a man, comfortable with being physically a man, who loves another man who is comfortable being physically a man, and loves me as a man. Could there be cases of “gay” that don’t follow our form of being gay, and perhaps there is a “wife” present?
Sure. As I said all combinations are possible. Though the term “wife” itself is probably as loaded as gender-appropriate clothing.
And besides, I don’t think the person making the comment was really trying to find out what my “combination” of identity factors was, but was simply confounding them into so much gay soup.
And as for the sex part of our lives…
Gary and I know where are parts go. And quite frankly, we’re the only ones who need to know it.
And if you think you still need to know who puts what into which hole in order to understand what being gay is, I think you’re still missing the point of all the words I’ve written here.
And I don’t know what else I can say.