This is probably going to come off as the most unromantic love note ever. That’s OK. That’s us! …We have been together for close to 8 years now. We lived together before we “got together.” We met as housemates, which was kinda an interesting way to get to know someone (if you’re considering asking them out) in terms of feeling out potential compatibility. A more detailed version of how we got together is here, if you’re interested: Happy Randomtimes, today.
Last fall, we got legally married, which I had a lot of mixed feelings about. It boils down to: We got married for health insurance purposes (and other legal reasons that seem unclear at this time, but may be super important at later times). We did not get married out of love. Every day we are together, it is out of love. Marriage has absolutely nothing to do with whether we are together or not. It does not mean we are any more or less likely to stay together now. It doesn’t mean that anything about how we operate our relationship has changed. Marriage is meaningless. So I guess I’m attempting to bring some meaning into it, because next Saturday, we are celebrating the fact that we got married.
I haven’t been in the best place, emotionally, the past few weeks, and that’s been making it feel like a struggle, to plan for this celebration. Which is OK. This party will happen. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and nervous when planning something so big. Everything does not need to fall into place exactly how we want it to for it to be a good day. It’s going to be a good day because we are connecting with people and with each other. And not because the sound system worked without a hitch and no plates or glasses got broken.
But there’s kinda more to it than that. We are celebrating marriage, and I’m struggling to understand what marriage is. (Marriage is what you make it.) Almost anything that is traditionally romantic, anything that is a traditional ritual for a wedding day, the roles we play… I don’t get it. It’s not because I’m a contrarian or I’m “too cool for school.” It just does not resonate. I don’t wanna play those games. In general, we won’t be. We’re having a “ceremony,” (er, 2 actually, an opening and a closing ceremony) but it will be fairly aberrant, bent, queer, variant, deviant. We have no gift registry. Our photo album is full of pictures of our friends and families. Scrap the scrap book, and the guest book while you’re at it. I could go on…
We’re discussing the idea of slow dancing to “Everyday is Halloween,” (Not because we wanna stir shit up, but just because that has been our wake-up alarm song every morning for about 5 years now.) I love all of these ideas, but I’m still not comfortable playing the role of the person who is getting married (or already got married, and is now on display.) In a way, it feels like the party was just an idea a while back, and now has a life of its own. I think collecting some of these thoughts is really going to help me out.
So a note, to my partner:
Hey, you! I like you a lot. I trust you as much as one person can trust another person. As time goes on, I just keep finding that we are super highly compatible. You give me huge amounts of space and leeway to be myself, to figure out what I want/need, to experiment. I couldn’t be in a relationship any other way. I know that I often hold myself back, so I cannot be having someone else also doing that.
It feels like we’re generally in-tune, in-synch, we communicate about what is going on, regularly. And if we aren’t, we will be again soon – I don’t feel left in the dark for long. And if I do, it is not worrisome. We’ll catch up with each other soon enough. I know I’m a difficult person, sometimes. I can be moody, and I generally need a shit-ton of alone time, in order to feel like a person. I make things complicated when they are simple. That’s not easy to live with. You just roll with it.
I think that you are so super cool. You are a strong person with values I really admire. You stand up for yourself and for what you think is right. You’re not afraid of confrontation. You mold your life into what you want. We’re molding our lives together, continuously.
PS- At my most recent therapy appointment, I just kept crying and crying (that I couldn’t do this marriage party thing, basically). She suggested I write on my blog, where I’m comfortable, about it, before I’m in this less-than-comfortable situation. That perked me up. I said, “That’s a pretty good idea.” She replied, “That might be it for me – I might not have any more of those; I’ll take it.” I reiterated it was a really good idea. Also, at the end of the appointment, she told me it was a freebie – a therapist’s version of a wedding gift. Haha.
Thank you, rimonim, for your reply!
My buddy janitorqueer posed an interesting question to me a couple of weeks ago:
Have you ever come across someone within your own community who you strongly strongly disagreed with? If so, what action or non-action did you take?
I certainly have! This can take a wide variety of forms. As a Jew, I sometimes have strong disagreements with my fellow members of the tribe about Israel/Palestine, among other things. As a trans man, I sometimes have strong disagreements with others under the LGBT and/or trans umbrella. For example, I take issue with all forms of “trans enough,” “subversive enough” and “feminist enough” tests of individuals’ gender identities or expressions.
My responses have varied from situation to situation. The better I know the person, the more likely I am to broach the disagreement. With a solid rapport, even extremely challenging topics can be handled gracefully.
When I don’t know a…
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Dear (anonymous) Sir,
A few days ago, you asked the internet through a google search, “does my janitor who is a male like me and im a male (gay)?” And the internet took you to my blog, in the hopes it would help you find your answer. (Yes, the internet does have its own hopes and dreams!) I highly doubt you found what you were looking for, so I decided to fill in the blanks, in case you try again in the future. I will be taking some liberties and making some assumptions, in order to create a concise response. If I am off base, please, call me out!
I’m sorry to let you know, the internet cannot answer questions that are this specific to your personal experience. You can glean a whole lot of information that might help you put words to your feelings, which is super helpful. But the internet does not know your situation, does not know your janitor, and does not know anything beyond whatever it is that people write on it. Is there a chance that your janitor wrote about you on the internet? Yes, maybe. But you will not be coming upon that writing by asking in that way.
In order to learn more about this, you would have to interact in real life. Also, you may want to ask yourself instead, “Do I like my janitor, like, do I like like him? And if so, do I want to do something about it, despite potential consequences?” You might want to weigh the pros and cons. You might want to feel out the situation in more nuanced ways before jumping to conclusions or potentially propositioning him directly. You could ask for advice from people you trust and are close to. Hell, you could even anonymously ask for advice in myriads of places online (again, I’d suggest focusing on your own feelings and not your janitor’s)! But you will not come upon much success by googling it.
Equally important though, please disregard everywhere in the above paragraphs where I indulged the idea of “your” janitor. He is not your janitor. You do not own him. You may not know this, but he doesn’t actually even work for you! I am going to assume you are not his direct supervisor, and are instead someone who works in a building (as a lawyer, businessman, teacher, or some other profession where you work in a space.) And he cleans your space. You, in a way, do own that space. It is sort of “your” desk, “your” trash can, “your” chalk board, etc. That is fine. But, again, he is not “your” janitor.
Let’s go out on a limb and imagine you are his supervisor. In this case, and only this case, it could maybe be appropriate to call him your janitor. My supervisor does this – she will refer to us (the people who do work for her) as “my guys.” This has the potential of fostering a sense of camaraderie, like we are a team, and she is our leader. This could be OK. But to singularly be someone’s something, even in this context, would be strange. If you are his supervisor, I’d suggest cutting out the “my janitor.”
I’m just going to say this directly, as a janitor who cleans classrooms. I am no one’s janitor. I am employed by a school district. My salary is worked out through the annual budget, which comes from taxpayers. I am in a union; I pay a union due, and they do work on my behalf. I clean classrooms that are, spaces owned (in a way) by teachers and utilized by students. I do not work for teachers. If teachers have a problem with my work, they could go to the principal and/or my direct supervisor. The reason she is “my” supervisor is because, ideally, she has our collective best interests in mind. And because she is above me, on the power scale, and it is therefore obviously not actually owned by me. It is more appropriate. “My boss.” “My professor.” “My doctor.” “My therapist.” These are common and straightforward. “My busboy.” “My waitress.” “My maid.” “My landscaper.” This is a different story; this is slippery. Watch your step.
Not Your Janitor
We did that thing – we got married! And! In the process of getting married, I came out (sort of) at work! But first thing’s first – we got married on Saturday, at a nearby park with a stream and some little waterfalls. We went to brunch first at a vegetarian Greek restaurant, with all our parents, who had yet to meet(!) after all this time. Then we went to the park from there, where 3 friends, and 2 of my partner’s siblings all met up to do this thing. My partner’s brother officiated, and she and I came up with all the wording ourselves. Everyone stood in a circle, we did a go-around where everyone introduced themselves and said what brought them here, and then we played a song on a boombox. Then C (I’m going to switch to “C” instead of always writing “my partner”) and I gave a 2 part lecture on the nature of love, which probably lasted over 10 minutes! Hope no one was sleeping! After that, we said some “agreements,” in which there was a lot of laughing and we agreed on some things. Then we kissed (a huge deal for me because I can barely get myself to take her hand in public), played another song, and had everyone join hands and do some hippie-like circle formation dancing and spinning. It was pretty great. Then we broke and handed out fancy sodas, like the kinds in glass bottles, and clinked glasses and took some photos.
It was very close to how I pictured it going in my head. Which was a huge relief, because a hang up about getting married at all, for me, was that wedding ceremonies and traditions? I don’t get it, and don’t connect with that, at all. So we created something we did connect with.
Right after, we took off for a fun 3 day weekend in a town about 2 hours away. We went to some restaurants, saw 12 Years a Slave (nice “honeymoon” movie pick), went to some botanical and herbal gardens and an arboretum, went to an art museum, went record shopping, and just relaxed and stuff.
So, nothing really feels different, other than that C can now get on my health insurance! Wheee!
The thing that actually feels like a bigger deal than getting married, is that I told people at work about it. Basically, no one at work knew I was in a relationship until 6 months ago, at which point I told my co-worker, my supervisor, and the head of the kitchen. But… I’ve been in a relationship for 7 years, and I’ve worked there for 6 and a half. And I’ve even wrongly implied that I’m single. So finally, those 3 people knew (I decided to share because I was going to be working closely with them all summer, and thought it was time to be more open.), but there were so many more people I see every day and never ever say a single thing about myself. Teachers, admin. assistants, the principal and assistant principal, the school nurse, etc.
And I didn’t really have a plan or goal to share my news. I was actually planning to (by default) not share. I started last work-week that way, and it just started to feel really shitty. Like, I was about to be getting married, and no one even knew I’m in a relationship. I imagined they could guess I’m gay (I’d prefer queer and genderqueer, but imagine people might think I’m a lesbian), but I’d never said a damn thing. I wonder if one day I will come out as non-binary, genderqueer, trans*, ask for a different pronoun, everything along that line… We’ll see; one day at a time.
So by midweek, I decided to take the risk and share my news. I wondered, how many people would I have to tell before they start spreading the word and I don’t have to do the work anymore? I guessed 5. In the end, I surpassed that goal of 5, and told 10 (and I’m still telling people)! And the word did start to get around; people were coming up to me and congratulating me. People were gushing with excitement and wanting me to bring in pictures for them to see. People had all kinds of questions about what we were going to do. I got a card from the whole school with a gift card in it. The first grade teachers pitched in and gave me a gift basket. It was as if my dark and dreary, mysterious and reserved, shy and distant demeanor at work got a huge boost, and I’ve been trying to run with that.
I could be a totally new person at work (slowly, little by little)! I even took my hat off! (I’ve been wearing military style caps every day as long as I’ve worked there, and it was getting old – I was tired of hats, but I couldn’t seem to get myself to take it off. Now? It seemed like no problem! Hat gone!)
Hey, my partner and I have been planning on getting married! We finally reserved a venue, this here house, in one of the county parks. It’s starting to feel like a real deal now, that we’re going to be doing this thing… We’ve been “engaged”* for a while now, and at least from my end, I’d been sort of putting off planning / making things more concrete. There’s probably a lot of reasons why that is, and I’ve been de-tangling all of that little by little. I don’t think I’ll be going into all those thoughts here and now (hint: a lot of the thoughts surround the idea that for so long, we couldn’t legally get married anyway, and more recently we can yet so many others can’t, and that’s confusing to say the least), but one thought really stands out as it relates to my current low-dose testosterone adventure: When I started testosterone last March, I really had no idea where I was going to end up! I mean, I thought I would end up very close to where I’ve been at already, but I couldn’t know ’til I tried it. And I still can’t know for sure, but I feel a little more secure than I did six months ago.
In other words, I feel like the possibility to legally transition is floating around nearby me, always. But the first few months of being on testosterone (trying something radically new) was a pretty sure bet for a time period where I might start feeling differently than before.
In some more other words, if I were going to want to legally change my name and gender markers, the early months of being on T was a time period of higher likelihood for feelings like that to emerge, potentially. (Not to mention maybe realizing I wanted to increase my dosage and transition in all ways – physically / legally / socially / etc.) But I didn’t really, feel that way. Which isn’t to say I won’t at any other point in time, of course! It just seemed like a strange time to start planning a wedding, if I was more unsure than normal what name and gender might go on our marriage certificate and other legal documents we pursue together.
Some of that uncertainty started to dissipate over time. I’m feeling really happy with where I’m at. Which is maybe one or two steps away from where I’ve been at before, in terms of my gender identity. I’m not planning on taking a hundred steps closer to being seen as “male.” I mean, my partner sees me as male, as well as all the other shades of gender I want to be seen as, and that’s really what feels most important. I’ve been starting to feel more ready to take some steps with her toward a different relationship identity.
I don’t think I ever directly articulated this to my partner! Guess it’s time for some more conversations! (One of the cool side effects of having a blog, or, you know, writing in general.)
*word is in quotations because it doesn’t feel like this “stage of our relationship” has much to do with what might traditionally be assumed, by being “engaged.” Nor will our “wedding” or subsequent “marriage” resemble much of what the mainstream might assume, by the use of those words… for example, there’s no engagement ring, no plans to combine or share finances, I could go on, but I don’t really want to! Why can’t there just be more word choices?!!