Thursday, April 30, 2009


Finding the right word for bonding between two men, the bonding that is physical as well as emotional...not easy for me. My first partner insisted that I stop calling him my boyfriend and refer to him as my lover. My second partner and I used "partner". (That once caused a funny moment when we were introduced to a female friend's father. When we told him that, no, we were not in business together and it slowly dawned on him who he was meeting....). In conversation now, he describes himself as having been married to me, but also says of our eight year cohabitation, "When we were going out..." Not simple.

Jack Donovan and Nathan Miller are finishing a book about rites of blood brotherhood, a study of the indigenous ways men ritualize intimate connections.

I have yet to find a single word for what I intend. Friend, though true, smacks of the bowdlerized closetry of yesteryear. Friend, wink-wink. Companion is generic and Husband seems too heterosexual. Spouse, as well. Mate...well, two men cannot mate in the typical way, in the procreational way, even if they can in a soulful way. Partner seems too bloodless and Life Partner too pompous. The appellation Husbear, among Bears, reeks of cute. "My guy"? "My man"?

I have settled on three words: Men who bond with each other in a committed and intimate way seek to be friends, lovers and family to each other.

And up popped Aquinas and Cranmer. What a pair. God, my head is an intellectual garage sale waiting to happen.

Aquinas saw marriage as a unique kind of friendship. And Cranmer's beautiful vow, without much stretching, seems to contain these three meanings.

If marriage is friendship,
then With this ring I thee wed
is a declaration of friendship.
With my body I thee worship
is the declaration of a lover.

And if family is created not only by blood
but by common wealth and dwelling,
then it is incorporation in families that is meant by
And with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

I am not a huge fan of gay marriage as a civil or religious institution. But I cannot deny the similar impulse between some men, to bond themselves to each other for life, body and heart.
Friends, lovers, family.


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