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Give Him Back

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Dave Hingsburger | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2007

OK, today is our anniversary. We've been together for 38 years as of today. I like to joke that I was a June bride, but in fact, of course, that's not true. 38 years ago the idea of two men marrying would have sent people spinning. But this post isn't going to be about homophobia, though we've got plenty of stories about that involves that little word. What's been interesting is what happened to our relationship ever since I became disabled.

Between us, nothing's changed. I do feel badly that Joe has to lift my chair in and out of the car. That my disability has caused him more work in his day. But he's not a complainer, doesn't make me feel bad about it, never much mentions it at all. So we've just gone on as normal. Two guys getting older together. But, to the world, we have changed.

As I travel and lecture internationally, people have to deal with us as a couple. Joe does all the bookings, I do all the lecturing. When our hosts book hotel rooms, we ask, without flinching for one room with a king bed. In some cases you can almost hear people blanching all the way down the phone line. But we don't care. Diversity is diversity, believe in it or leave. No time for that kind of nonsense.

But now, it's changed. I didn't realize it until I was doing a session in British Columbia and one of the folks there noticed that I was pushing myself over to the washroom. A woman, part of the team hosting the event, rushed over to me and asked me if I wanted her to get my staff. My staff! I looked at her startled and said, "Pardon me?"

She pointed over at Joe who was working the book table and said, "Do you want your staff to help you?" I just told her that I was fine and she rushed off. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to sit there and explain that Joe wasn't my staff. That we had a (sexual) relationship and have had one for years. It seemed to be none of her business and yet something I needed to say anyways.

Then I realized that this has been happening ever since I've been in the chair. Suddenly I don't have a boyfriend anymore, suddenly we are back in the conceptual closet. We aren't challenging stereotypes now we're succumming to them. I'm a helpless cripple and he's a paid companion. Yuck, we've been pushed back into a closet that we've never really been in.

So now I have to work at being 'out' in a variety of ways.

But this morning, the morning of our anniversary, I intend on getting my staff to give me intimate care. It's a role play we've never done. Could be fun.

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Congratulations on your anniversary! As a thrice married hetro, I will probably never reach that landmark. It's kinda sad since I finally found the man of my dreams... I'm glad you found one another so early in life.

I love the guest blogger idea. I can't wait to read what's next.

I also love the Ouch site.

Happy Anniversary to you both! There are times I find it useful to emphasise the formality of my partner's role as a PA. Because if he didn't do the things he did, I would pay someone else to do it. Occasionally, this needs emphasising; he's not just along as my plus one, he cannot be taken for granted and at the same time.

The best confusion we ever had was when a doctor assumed he was my father. I was in agony at the time, but it was still hilarious.

Happy Anniversary both.

When that thought hits, about how other people see you or your situation, it can really mess with your mind.

But you and Joe, your love is so alive in your writing. And all the stronger for the knocks. When you experience prejudice, you can react in one of two ways. You can hate back, or you can look deeper inside yourself and deeper into the eyes of others. And you grow. And your insight and wisdom grow. And then you can put that out there. Which is a stronger force than any prejudice you face.

  • 4.
  • At 02:14 PM on 01 Jul 2007, Robert wrote:

I must be missing something, is this about disability or two people living together, I mean two men or two women or what ever, we all have idiots in the world who cannot see past their nose.

The times people have said about my wife it's nice you have your carer with you, she got spina bifida.

Or shall we call your wife to help you, no thanks I can help my self.

The fact is being disabled and asking if you want help from a carer or member of staff, we all get this, insult, just silly people not knowing what to say.

I have had this experience quite often, people including emt's assume that my partner is a registered nurse who is paid to accompany me. This went so far that she was refused to be allowed in the ambulance on the basis that "the professionals had taken over now" and her services (as a paid nurse) would no longer be needed.

I think it is just easier to assume you have a paid carer of the same sex than that this is your life partner.

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