I have started to notice this more and more lately. Whether people who do this are either doing it more often or maybe I’m just paying attention more. I’m talking about people referring to my boyfriend and fiancé as “your friend”.
Recently I was having a discussion with a co-worker when I started realize by the vocabulary that she choose to use, that she wasn’t very comfortable. During the conversation, she kept using the word “friend” and even once she forced out “special friend”. Finally I had enough and asked her “so, who is this special friend you keep referring too?” She responded with “Darren” to which I replied, “ah, my FIANCE”. I’ll admit, I certainly didn’t help in making her feel anymore comfortable, but a line needs to be drawn. I have never referred to her husband as her “special friend”, so why should I accept mine being called that? For the rest of the day I couldn’t help but thinking how accepting was she really of the LGBT community?
I have had many people use the term “friend”, “special friend” and the “not as” bad “partner”. Those people always claim that they are accepting of gays and lesbians, but the words that they use say otherwise. How accepting is someone of gays and lesbians who can’t even refer to the one they love by the proper word? To make things clear, everyone in my work and personal life knows who I am and who I love. When other co-workers are discussing different stories about their families and husbands I usually join in with a story about myself and my fiancé. I also always use the term fiancé or sometimes boyfriend.
As recently as yesterday, myself and another co-worker were having a conversation about a special brand of coffee she is selling. Some organic stuff and she hands me a sample to try. Being addicted to coffee, I eagerly accepted the free coffee. She then starts to rummage through her box and hands me a second bag. “Awesome, more free coffee!” I thought, and then she said it. “Give this one to your friend and tell me what they think”. I was confused. At first I thought she was referring to my friend in the office who drinks coffee with me, then it dawned on me who she meant. She meant Darren. Like the other example mentioned above, I confronted her. I asked her to whom she was referring too. She answered “you know, your special friend”. Well this really offended me. Not only did she forget his name (even though I talk about him ALL the time), she called him my friend. This time I decided to take a more diplomatic approach. I told her that I would appreciate if she referred to him as to what he is, my boyfriend and my fiancé. She ignored me and turned around.
I was incredibly offended. How can an individual say they have no issues with gays and lesbians and not be able to use simple and more accurate pronoun like boyfriend?
The question is raised, how accepting of gays and lesbians are you? My answer is not very. You can’t pick and choose which parts you want to accept. Either you are completely accepting or you’re not. You can’t sit there, look at me in the eye and listen to some random story about Darren and I, or ask questions about my wedding and then call him my friend.
I and every other member of the LGBT community deserves more respect then that. How dare a person minimize my relationship to my face just because they have some illogical “fears”. I now make it a point to correct everyone who is rude and offensive and chooses to call Darren my “friend”. I no longer care how uncomfortable I make them feel, they obviously don’t care how rude they’re being.
I’ll end my rant with this. My relationship with Darren is no different then straight couple’s relationships. My love for him is no different then my co-worker’s love for her husband. Don’t sit there and minimize my relationship and make it something that it’s not just because you have a hang up and can’t get past your bigoted, stupid, archaic beliefs. Have some respect and if you feel “uncomfortable”, figure out why and move past it.