1. Richard says

    Could the gay community please stop referring to their significant other as their “partner” or “roommate”. How about boyfriend or girlfriend. Fiancee works too if you plan on getting married. The connotation of partner means sex partner and that’s it. If you have a boyfriend then say boyfriend.

  2. says

    Richard: I couldn’t disagree more! The problem _I_ have with “partner” is that it’s sexless: it sounds like a business partner. When I want to hint at sexual attraction, that’s when I use “boyfriend.” I have straight friends who use “partner” to avoid heterosexist and gendered terms, I doubt they think they’re trying to suggest sex!

  3. luminum says

    Clearly, it has that connotation to you. I’m pretty sure it has a different connotation to others. “Life partner” has been in use for a while now.

  4. GregV says

    “Partner” doesn’t necessarily sound like “sex partner” to me, but it, like all other similar terms, has weaknesses.

    “Partner” can be useful because it doesn’t denote gender or marital status. “Spouse can also work if you’re married/committed).

    For example, it economizes words to say that “my siblings’ respective partners will arrive together at 6pm,” rather than to say “my sister’s husband, my other sister’s boyfriend and my brother’s husband will arrive at 6pm.”

    The weakness of the word “partner” is that it can refer to all kinds of relationships. If I arrive at a tennis court and say “my partner is coming here later,” people may be expecting my wife or my boyfriend or my business partner or my partner for the tennis game.
    I get people all the time who assume that my “partner” and I are in business together.
    “Boyfriend” can denote a much more transient relationship than a life partner. A 12-year-old can have a boyfriend for a week and then after the school dance have a new boyfriend for the next week. Twelve-year-olds never have domestic partners or spouses.
    An 80-year-old grandmother could refer to the man she’s been with for 60 years as “my boyfriend” and it might be cute in the right context, but to someone who doesn’t know them, it could sound like they just recently met.

    Words like “husband” and “wife” are unnecessarily gendered (compared to spouse), but so is the English language with all its pronouns.

    What bothers me is when some newspapers change their vocabulary when the subject is gay. If Laura Bush is referred to as George’s partner, then Ellen should be referred to likewise in relation to Portia. But if Laura is George’s “wife,” it’s insulting to see Portia referred to as Ellen’s “gal pal” or “special someone” or significant other.”

  5. Sean says

    Richard, what about life “partner”? Someone who shares and partakes in joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, sex – yes, money, food, friendship, trust, and above all, love, of your life? That’s my life-partner, or boyfriend, fiance, husband, whatever – the word doesn’t change the nature of it. Thank you and good day to you too.

  6. Randy says

    Unfortunately, these folks have no choice but to use “partner” because representing themselves as married in Illinois may be a problem.

    The good news is that civil unions, while discriminatory, unequal, and intended primarily to mark an entire class of people as inferior, do tend to lead to marriage equality.

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