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  • Negotiating Roles in a Relationship

    Obviously, there are many things that have to be worked out when you enter a relationship. When you take the next step and move in with someone, there are even more. Largely, it all boils down to which role each individual in the relationship will usually have. In heterosexual pairings, our society has done too good of a job in designating what is for men and what is for women (yes, many of these roles are problematic/the way they are reinforced is super problematic, but that’s for another time). Homosexual relationships are a little bit different because you don’t have these societal expectations to fall back on, everything has to be negotiated.

    What’s great about having to negotiate these roles is that you don’t have those societal expectations getting in the way of doing what you’re good at or what you like to do.* My girlfriend and I discussed this quite often in the first few weeks of living together. These discussions took place mostly because one of us would make a comment to the other about how happy we were to not have to do a certain task. Sure, we negotiated who would wash dishes and who would vacuum, but the things outside what is traditionally passed off as “women’s work” also had to be discussed.

    In many hetero relationships, the woman cooks, cleans, and does all those lovely chores June Cleaver would have been responsible for – even if she is also working**. It goes without saying that homosexual relationships can’t really rely on this model since it’d be more than just a bit redundant.  So, when my girlfriend and I bought several pre-fab bookcases, there wasn’t a sense of expectation that one of us would do it instead of the other.  Well, there was a little bit of an expectation with us because I actually enjoy putting things together and my girlfriend decidedly does not. Still, it wasn’t a gender thing. Instead, it came down to who was good at what and who enjoyed doing what. 

    This is a model for a relationship I do quite well in, actually. If I had to cook for myself, I would end up eating cheese and Triscuits every night (again) instead of actually giving my body real food. My girlfriend, however, loves to cook and is absolutely amazing at it. So, we found a system that works for us: she cooks while I make the drinks for that night thanks to my abilities as a decent bartender.

    Admittedly, many of the roles I take on are the traditionally “masculine” ones, but that’s largely due to my height and the strength I built up through years of athletics. That really doesn’t matter though, because before we decided that I would take those roles, we had to talk about it. Honestly, it was something I never really thought about until my bisexual girlfriend pointed it out to me. In her past relationships with men, she hasn’t had to discuss who will do what when it comes to those chores given to the 1950’s housewife. We have to talk about them, though, and we have to work out what is best for us. As I continue my relationship with her, that’s not something I want to take for granted, and I don’t want to forget that even though there are many things that make a relationship difficult, we have this negotiation to fall back on in order for us to admit our weaknesses and show our strengths rather than rely on how we are “supposed to be”.



    * If you believe hetero relationships have this ability to the same degree, keep in mind that there are several stay-at-home dads who have discussed how people react to such a “weird” thing.

    ** This is certainly not all relationships, but this is a pretty common model. (No, sir, you don’t get bonus points for cooking once a week, sorry.)

  • It's Never Simple

    I'm sure, like me, you have seen posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr all linking to things related to the Trayvon Martin killing and subsequent verdict of "not-guilty" for George Zimmerman. While I’d like to pretend the nation as a whole is outraged over the death of a young boy, many of the posts I have seen indicate that is not case. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people think this case had nothing to do with race. What’s even more unfortunate is that these people are lashing out at those who try to explain why race is so relevant to this case.

    I’m one of those who thinks race is at the heart of why Trayvon is dead and also why the man who killed him is walking free. However, I am not the person who is able to best explain why the fact that Trayvon was Black is hugely relevant. I’m not that person because I am not Black. There are so many Black people writing about the crime and the verdict, and theirs are the voices that should be heard loudest. They are the ones who have had to live with the racism that permeates our society (yes, even now) and so they are the ones who are best able to educate others. That’s why I’m directing you to the words of my college roommate and good friend, Curtis Cook. He wrote two pieces on the subject:

         This is the first post he made.

         This is what he wrote in response to the backlash he got from the first.

    Yes, I can discuss these things, but it’s not my place, it’s not my voice that must be heard, so I implore you to read what he has written. Even if you hate his words, go out and find other Black voices. Find the people who can tell you what it’s like to be Black in this country and what this trial means for those citizens.