Author Topic: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing  (Read 14707 times)

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oogyda

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2012, 12:09:15 PM »
Recently, I heard a gentleman use the term "Spousal Equivalent".  I like it because it left no doubt in my mind how he thought of his spousal equivalent. 

In this case, the man was speaking of a woman.  They've been together 14 years and are planning a lifetime together...they most likely will not get married.

I think you could use the phrase in your situation. 
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greencat

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2012, 02:53:33 PM »
Recently, I heard a gentleman use the term "Spousal Equivalent".  I like it because it left no doubt in my mind how he thought of his spousal equivalent. 

In this case, the man was speaking of a woman.  They've been together 14 years and are planning a lifetime together...they most likely will not get married.

I think you could use the phrase in your situation. 

Not really - Rebecca's partner isn't just "equivalent" to her spouse, they are legally joined in whatever fashion is available to them.  She is her spouse.

RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #47 on: September 25, 2012, 12:01:55 PM »
Rebecca, I don't have a ready comfortable for all/every situation suggestion, but send empathy and don't have to send it far as I am also in Georgia.

Not that it will alleviate your concern, but I share the dilemma of terminology for different reasons.  My boyfriend and I have been partnered and lived together for years - and are understood by all near to us as very much a committed couple though not legally husband and wife.  Still, I cringe at terming him "boyfriend" as well, age inappropriate, and lacking actual level of appropriate significance  - but I don't want to refer to him in a professional setting (or otherwise) as my "husband" as he isn't legally.

I don't personally mind the term "partner" but have found it can be problematic, so - I'm posting for support, and without meaning any threadjack - also interested in suggestions.

Total aside: couple of years back, the subject of terms came up at "breakfast" hour at B&B we we staying at.  Several women of my age (late 40s early 50s) were intrigued.  One pretty quickly said, in a very friendly tone "you should just call him your red hot lover.". Since then among some friends, though not professional setting, RHL is th go to acronym.  While not appropriate for all audiences, it is wonderfully age and gender non-specific.

LOL, now that suggestion may have to be kept in mind. RHL - I like it! ;-)

Peregrine

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #48 on: September 25, 2012, 12:21:58 PM »
I am one of those people that are somewhat lost when I am trying to figure out how to refer to people in same sex partnerships.  Part of this is due to being in my early 30's and growing up in a relatively conservative pocket of the very liberal Pacific Northwest.  I was out of highschool before any of my aquaintances came out, and out of highschool before one of my cousins came out.  I attended a smaller quite liberal state school and had a couple of gay professors who were my first daily contact....and they both referred to their partners differently.  Since then, I have tried to listen carefully to how people refer to their partners, gay or straight and address them in their preferred manner, but in can still be a linguistic minefield.

In any case, as long as they aren't being malicious or harrassing, I would just refer to your partner by her first name.


RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #49 on: September 25, 2012, 01:02:13 PM »
Thanks to you all - I have been just saying "DP is doing fine, thanks!" with some extra details if they seem to want them - but I wasn't sure if this was the best way. I think after much discussion above that that's going to be best - I don't want to be PA with them about playing coy with "Oh, you mean DP - I thought you meant someone else!" or some of the other gambits suggested - I'm still new to the office (even though I've been with the company for over 4 years) and I don't want them to think of me as a jerk so early in the game. I will probably keep saying "My partner, DP" to folks when I introduce her, or if someone asks about things where it's appropriate to say it, but I'm more and more comfortable identifying myself as "DP's wife, Rebecca". 

Thanks, everyone!

gellchom

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #50 on: September 25, 2012, 01:29:42 PM »
I am one of those people that are somewhat lost when I am trying to figure out how to refer to people in same sex partnerships.  Part of this is due to being in my early 30's and growing up in a relatively conservative pocket of the very liberal Pacific Northwest.  I was out of highschool before any of my aquaintances came out, and out of highschool before one of my cousins came out.  I attended a smaller quite liberal state school and had a couple of gay professors who were my first daily contact....and they both referred to their partners differently.  Since then, I have tried to listen carefully to how people refer to their partners, gay or straight and address them in their preferred manner, but in can still be a linguistic minefield.

In any case, as long as they aren't being malicious or harrassing, I would just refer to your partner by her first name.


This is a good illustration of what I was trying to say.  You seem to ascribe your own hesitation to the culture in which you grew up.  But I think the more salient point is that the few same sex couples you do now know don't all use the same terminology.  I bet if they all said the same thing, either "husband" or "spouse" or "partner"  or whatever, even if it's just two or three couples, you'd naturally just go to that choice without feeling unsure. 

Again, I'm not saying that people are wrong to want to use all different terms for themselves.  But the inevitable result will be that people will be uncertain and forget or make mistakes.  That's the whole pro and con of conventions and etiquette "rules": you give up particularity and personalization but gain clarity and shared understanding. 

It happens in all kinds of areas, not just sensitive ones like this.  Miss Manners warns against using overly "creative" wording on wedding invitations, for example, and I think she's right. If you request the honor of my presence at your marriage, I'll know to arrive ten minutes early.  If you invite me to a celebration of your love, I might assume it is a reception of party with no ceremony, in which case I'll arrive ten minutes late. 

"Wife" and "spouse" tell me you're married. "Girlfriend" tells me you're not married but are in an exclusive romantic relationship.  No, they aren't ideal terms, and they may not feel like they describe your personalities, ages, or opinions well, but they get the message of your status to me.  "Partner" and "friend" don't tell me much. 

And please don't use "lover" (red hot or otherwise).  I suppose it is clear!  But I would find it silly and probably obnoxious. 

DavidH

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #51 on: September 26, 2012, 11:16:29 AM »
I think you settled on a good place.

I think in general, the key is to try to discern the person's intent.  If you think they are using friend or a similar term to diminish the significance of the relationship, the politely correcting them, by saying actually she is more than my friend, she's my wife, spouse, partner, etc. is fine.  (I think husbutch is rather unusual for office conversation, particularly in a conservative area)  If you think they are clueless, but mean well, then you can still politely correct them, but it seems less important to me and even more important to do so politely. 

One challenge is that the terminology isn't really obvious as others have pointed out.  Husband or wife seems right if you're married, but particularly if that's not the term you use, then I can see why someone else wouldn't start using it. 

grannyclampettjr

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #52 on: September 26, 2012, 10:09:30 PM »
I think that there are some many different couples with so many different ways of referring to each other that it can be tricky, regardless of sexual orientation.  Some people are not legally married but still refer to each other as "husband" or "wife".  Others wouldn't dream of that.  Some people might use "partner" others might not for whatever reason.  Somebody else might like "significant other" and there are other people who would shudder upon hearing themselves called that. I think in a work situation where you might be more friendly than close friends you are unsure of what to so or say.  You like your work friends but you might not really know them in the way you know other friends, not intimately enough to know what the "right" term is.

I'm bi.  And I don't magically know what couples prefer.   Heck, even straight couples sometimes cringe at the junior high school boyfriend/girlfriend.   And sometimes I forget what term people use to refer to their partners.   

Are they trying?  Are they being kind?  Are they floundering for the correct term so as not to offend you?   Then be an ambassador for pete's sake.   Don't mean to lecture, but cut peeps a little slack. 

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #53 on: September 26, 2012, 10:15:15 PM »
I think that there are some many different couples with so many different ways of referring to each other that it can be tricky, regardless of sexual orientation.  Some people are not legally married but still refer to each other as "husband" or "wife".  Others wouldn't dream of that.  Some people might use "partner" others might not for whatever reason.  Somebody else might like "significant other" and there are other people who would shudder upon hearing themselves called that. I think in a work situation where you might be more friendly than close friends you are unsure of what to so or say.  You like your work friends but you might not really know them in the way you know other friends, not intimately enough to know what the "right" term is.

I'm bi.  And I don't magically know what couples prefer.   Heck, even straight couples sometimes cringe at the junior high school boyfriend/girlfriend.   And sometimes I forget what term people use to refer to their partners.   

Are they trying?  Are they being kind?  Are they floundering for the correct term so as not to offend you?   Then be an ambassador for pete's sake.   Don't mean to lecture, but cut peeps a little slack.

Even so, you have to admit, "friend" is a little diminutive.  It's as if the couple has been transported back to the 1950s.  "Oh, there's Ethel.  You know, Linda's "friend"."
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Yvaine

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #54 on: September 26, 2012, 10:39:55 PM »
Even so, you have to admit, "friend" is a little diminutive.  It's as if the couple has been transported back to the 1950s.  "Oh, there's Ethel.  You know, Linda's "friend"."

And tone is a big part of this. Haven't a lot of us (of any orientation) experienced the thing where, for example, a SO's parents don't quite approve of us and introduce us as "Linda's...frieeeeend" with a smirk? It depends on how the co-workers are saying it.

Oh Joy

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #55 on: September 26, 2012, 10:51:13 PM »
Even so, you have to admit, "friend" is a little diminutive.  It's as if the couple has been transported back to the 1950s.  "Oh, there's Ethel.  You know, Linda's "friend"."

And tone is a big part of this. Haven't a lot of us (of any orientation) experienced the thing where, for example, a SO's parents don't quite approve of us and introduce us as "Linda's...frieeeeend" with a smirk? It depends on how the co-workers are saying it.

Good point.  I'm a firm believer that when we look for insult we will always find it.  But none of us except our OP is present to feel the tone and other dynamics.  This seems like a situation that could as easily be anywhere on the spectrum of intent.

Mikayla

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #56 on: October 02, 2012, 06:44:57 PM »

I'm bi.  And I don't magically know what couples prefer.   Heck, even straight couples sometimes cringe at the junior high school boyfriend/girlfriend.   And sometimes I forget what term people use to refer to their partners.   

Are they trying?  Are they being kind?  Are they floundering for the correct term so as not to offend you?   Then be an ambassador for pete's sake.   Don't mean to lecture, but cut peeps a little slack. 

This is exactly how I see it.  OP, with your update, you seem to be heading in the right direction, but I think this is the prevailing point to remember. 

My stepmom started dating after my dad's death, and I was with her once when she was trying to introduce her "partner" to another couple.  Both were in their late 50's.  She said "Hi!  I'd like you to meet my...uh...MAN".  Then she cringed, turned bright red, and said "Ok, actually his name is Fred".  You had to be there, but it was hilarious.


Twik

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #57 on: October 03, 2012, 12:52:05 PM »
Even so, you have to admit, "friend" is a little diminutive.  It's as if the couple has been transported back to the 1950s.  "Oh, there's Ethel.  You know, Linda's "friend"."

And tone is a big part of this. Haven't a lot of us (of any orientation) experienced the thing where, for example, a SO's parents don't quite approve of us and introduce us as "Linda's...frieeeeend" with a smirk? It depends on how the co-workers are saying it.

I guess finger-quotes are right out?  >:D
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RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #58 on: October 03, 2012, 01:17:34 PM »
Even so, you have to admit, "friend" is a little diminutive.  It's as if the couple has been transported back to the 1950s.  "Oh, there's Ethel.  You know, Linda's "friend"."

And tone is a big part of this. Haven't a lot of us (of any orientation) experienced the thing where, for example, a SO's parents don't quite approve of us and introduce us as "Linda's...frieeeeend" with a smirk? It depends on how the co-workers are saying it.

I guess finger-quotes are right out?  >:D

LOL - I swear one of the people doing this silliness actually used the air quotes. It's goofy, but kindly meant. But now every time I see her I'm going to start giggling.

Eeep!

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #59 on: October 09, 2012, 05:29:01 PM »
This whole discussion reminds me of when I first met one of my dear friends, who is gay.  We had been in rehearsal for a month or so for a film and I had no idea he was gay.  He always referred to his significant other as "my old lady" and, while I knew he was being silly, I just thought he was being silly about his wife.  Until one day we were shooting in his car and he was in the passenger seat and he mentioned how weird it was to not be driving and I said "Oh, your wife never drives your car?". Cue strange look from him. Then he said "Um, I don't have a wife, I have a husband."   :-[ I was so so embarrassed! Heh. But we got past that. :)  He told me that he never quite knows how to refer to his partner either. I think he most of the time does "husband" for ease of understanding.

At any rate, I would just continue what you are doing.  If everyone seems nice - and it is nice that they are asking about her - then I would just assume the best and keep throwing your term of choice or her name into the conversation.

Glad she is doing well!
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