I’ve seen a lot of diverse couples on teevee recently, especially in ads. This is amazing, I thought, because social change happens more quickly when people see examples of diversity in entertainment. In the ’90s, many people met their first gay friends on Will & Grace. Similarly, today, many people might be seeing their first diverse couples in detergent commercials. Positive portrayals precede progress.
It was only recently — in the past week or so — that I realized that the Complimentary Spouse and I are one of those diverse couples. It seems so obvious in hindsight, but it honestly didn’t dawn on me.
On a daily basis, I give virtually no thought to being part of a same-sex couple. It just doesn’t occur to me. Here’s what occupies my mind:
I wasn’t always this unmindful of being part of a same-sex couple. Britt and I met in 2002 and married in 2008. Things were much different back then. We were challenged at car rental counters when we tried to add me as a spouse to the rental agreement. We were given dirty looks when we got to hotel check-in desks and requested a room with a king-size bed. When we registered for wedding gifts, we were told at one high-end home furnishing store that we would have to register as a bride and groom because that’s how their computer system was configured. We walked out.1
These events, and hundreds more just like them, were constant reminders that we were different. As such, it was hard to forget that our relationship wasn’t like everyone else’s.
Today, it’s rare when someone reminds us that we’re unlike other couples. The other day, we were apart in Target, and a clerk asked me if he could help me find something. “Yes, my husband,” I said. Now that I’m thinking about these issues as I write this blog post, it’s possible to consider a statement like that to be political, declaratory, and assertive. But at the time, it was just a cute rejoinder.
The only time we’re treated differently as a same-sex couple is in restaurants when servers ask if we want one check or two. Do they ask opposite-sex couples wearing wedding rings if they prefer separate checks? Every single time? My hunch is no.2
Diverse couples on teevee represent a significant step forward for our society because they legitimize and destigmatize relationships that are, well, let’s face it, just as ordinary as mine. We can eventually get to a place where diverse couples are so mundane they don’t earn a second glance. And that, my friends, is an exciting prospect.
1 They called their corporate office, figured out a work-around, and tracked us down, so we did register there. Thanks for the plates, silverware, glasses, serving platters, and gravy boat, everyone!
2 When a server brings us a check without offering to split it, we automatically increase the tip.