My entire life I was explicitly and implicity taught by everyone I know that the only spouse a man can have is a wife. A man doesn’t ever use the phrase my husband. Even the LGBT community refused to use it, stupidly settling on the word “partner” as an idiotic way to maintain separateness from the straight community. So I don’t have any precedence for saying my husband aloud myself.
The phrase my husband crackles in my mouth, like a little firecracker. I wince half a second before I spit it out, and the crack startles other people into silence for a tiny moment. Then they go on, as if their ears and mine aren’t ringing, or they don’t smell sharp residue of gunpowder. It takes courage to light it in front of strangers.
In a restaurant, I flag down the waitress and say, “There’s a problem with my husband’s food, and we need to take care of it.” Crack.
At a hotel, the clerk asks if Darwin and I want two beds, and I say, “No, my husband and I will share.” Crack.
During a party, someone asks if my wife came, and I say, “No, I’m here with my husband.” Crack.
I’m not used to those two words yet, and I still brace myself for some kind of nasty response–jeers, shunning, even a physical threat. My heart jerks a little and I brace myself to snarl, snap, or even block and punch. But I’ve never needed to because no one has ever done any of these things to my face. Still, a lifetime of faggot still rings in my ears and I brace myself anew at the drop of each firecracker.
Eventually I’ll get used to my husband, and I’ll stop bracing myself. And maybe everyone else will get used to it and stop handing me that little pause.
–Steven Harper Piziks