It’s Complicated: When Facebook Status Can’t Describe You, Part 1

I don’t tend to rail against the injustices of the world. Straight privilege (male privilege, cis privilege, or privilege in general) and all that other stuff we gays get up in arms about.

But there is one thing that straight couples have going for them that I have mentioned before – there is precedent.

People know what boyfriend and girlfriend entails, and friends-with-benefits, engaged, and married. Of course each situation varies according to the individuals involved, but there is continuity. When you reach a certain stage in your relationship, marriage ensues (unless you are Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon and now I’ve made myself sad and have to go cry in a corner for a bit). Sure, it gets complicated when polyamory slips in, or when two people disagree about the type of relationship (or not!) they are in together.

I met a couple last night. They were great guys, sweet and affectionate, clearly cared for each other deeply. But they introduced each other by name – no possessives – and when the question arose, it was greeted with a moment of silence as the two looked at each other.

“He’s my . . . it’s complicated,” one said finally, and we all laughed, relieved that we had cleared that up at last.

It’s complicated.

Complicated couples could be complicated because they aren’t merely a couple. They could be living separately but in a committed and loving relationship that defies the bounds of “boyfriend”. They could be an elderly couple who have been together for decades but can’t legally marry, and so they remain with no status.

And then there are so many dangerous ways that gay relationships, especially new ones, can be complicated. It can be complicated in a ‘well, I’m out but he’s still in the closet and his dad would kick him out of the house if he found out so we pretend we’re just friends’ way. Or a ‘he could be dishonourably discharged and bashed if anyone found out’ way. Or a ‘my career could suffer so I pretend to date women in front of my boss’ way.

It isn’t always fun, being complicated. It isn’t always fun, existing outside of the relationship box. We can be complicated because we are unique, and we can be complicated because we have no other choice but to be. I’m a pretty dim bulb. I’m not smart enough to be complicated. I would be a butch dyke no matter where or when I was, or who I was with, because I can’t be bothered to be anything else.

And I know that, twenty years ago or twenty miles south, I could be jobless, homeless, crippled, or dead for it. When I married a good Southern girl, we had the choice of Toronto or Tennessee to make our home in. Afraid of having to be It’s Complicated to the neighbours, we went north.

A few months ago, not far from my wife’s hometown, a lesbian couple had their home burned to the ground by a neighbor while the fire department watched. “The only thing better than one dead queer,” said the neighbor, “is two dead queers.”

To some of my readers, go forth and be complicated – and be grateful you get the choice to be.

To the rest . . .  Keep your stick on the ice and remember, I’m rooting for you.

How about you?

Care to share about your complicated relationships, past or present?


E takes a look at more “It’s Complicated” scenarios.


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