My Husband Has No Penis


An abridged version of this essay, entitled “When Your Husband is Not a Man,” was recently featured on YahooShine.

I’ll tell you a secret.

I still have some internalized homophobia.  I get squeamish when I have to come out, even if it’s a circumstance where nobody gives a damn, which is pretty much my circumstance most of the time.

I don’t have to come out very often, but the situation does arise if I have to say, switch opthamologists.  Or if Ray wants to play with a child whose parent I do not know.

I have my reasons for hating the words, “I’m gay” or “I’m lesbian” and yes, I realize that I am not a very coalesced homosexual because of it.  I understand that I have my work to do, but like, whatever.  If I feel more comfortable coming out by saying my spouse is a professor and she works at a small college in Poughkeepsie, than that’s my choice.  Leave me alone.  Don’t be hateful.

People hear what they want to hear, though, and sometimes they aren’t expecting something so subtle as a delicately placed she; sometimes, you must still spell it out.  Sometimes, you must still use the G word.  The L word.

These words confer identity, I think, and sometimes I’m not up for the branding.

When I figured out that I needed to be with someone of my same sex, the first terrifying image that came to mind was a bald woman in birkenstocks and army fatigues.  You know the one.  Because of the patriarchy, she doesn’t wear a bra.

I’m simplifying for the purpose of a joke, obviously, but now I’ll  further complicate the matter by saying that I respect what these women are doing.  They bear the brunt of a homophobic society.  I can pass as heterosexual; they embody the stereotype and they pay the price.

So it’s my own internalized homophobia that causes me to worry about being identified with a subgroup.  But at the same time, I know that in being who they are, in being authentic, these women are doing something brave.  Whether they intend to or not.

Society takes gender boundaries very seriously.  Violating them doesn’t win you an entree into a life of wealth or privilege.  Let alone physical safety.

What’s truly sad is that heterosexuals never fear getting lumped into a category where they’re identified with the attributes society disapproves of most intensely. Do heterosexuals have to worry about being reduced to a stereotype?   Maybe.  But not as much as homosexuals do.  It’s a sad state of affairs. It’s changing as more people come out, but we still have a long way to go.

One time, when I was alone in Asheville, North Carolina (highest lesbian population per capita!) I decided that I wanted to live there forever.  I approached some women in a coffee shop to inquire as to which neighborhood was the most likely to be heavily populated with Billie Jean King lookalikes.

Which neighborhood had the highest concentration of lesbians? I wondered.  The women I approached resembled the ones I’ve been talking about, the subset of a larger minority.  Their hair was short.  Their brassieres (if worn at all) were clearly  not living up to their job descriptions.

I went right up to them, excused myself, and in a polite, if quavering and timorous whisper, said, “Excuse me, but are you…community?”

When I was married to a man and having an affair with a woman, I learned about this secret code word, this password to a club into which only homosexuals are invited, this community.  One utterance of this word at any time or any place and a sun shower of homosexuals will fan the rainbow flag and throw out flavored dental dams.  Try it some time.  Even if you aren’t gay.  It really works.

The two women looked up at me suspiciously and said, Yeah.  What’s it to ya.

Fine, they didn’t say what’s it to ya, but they did say yeah.  For a second I wondered if they were going to pull a gun out from under their cheesecakes and shoot me in the toe.  But amazingly, when I asked them my question about gay neighborhoods, they put down their quinoa brownies and suggested a number of streets and intersections.  They didn’t exactly ask me to sit down with them, but they were nice enough.

The trouble with using the word community to talk about yourself as a gay person, however, is that it’s a word only other gay people use.  It’s not like I can tell my friend’s mother-in-law, oh, I don’t have a husband.  I’m community.  She’d probably think I was telling her that I just joined the JCC.

Just recently, after I told the parent of a child in Ray’s Suzuki violin class that I was one of two moms, she looked at me with a completely straight face and said,  “There was a girl in my daughter’s class who had that.”

Had what?  The malaise of homosexuality?  The disfiguring disease of conjoined motherhood?

Once, when I was adjuncting at St. John’s university, the topic of homosexuality came up.

“I heard it runs in families,” I heard an English professor say.

“Oh yes,” I chimed in.  “My brother and I both inherited homophilia.  Haven’t you heard?  It’s very catching.  Do you want your spoon back?”

I don’t want to be labeled, see.  Who does?  Even if only a portion of the lesbian population have wiffles,  I still have trouble coming out with it in ordinary conversation.  I hate the word “lesbian” because it makes me think of a bunch of women wearing patchouli and making out with each other on some Greek island.  Gay is generally a term for the boys (although I do use it) and queer still means strange to a lot of people.  I do love the word homosexual because there’s a whiff of the scientific there, and it’s funny, but admittedly I say the word in a humorous way as a coping mechanism.

Hi, I’m Amy, and I’m a homosexual.  A homosexual.

To call oneself any one thing — a homosexual or a writer or a parent or a squirrel killer, for that matter, is just plain reductive. Nobody want to be any one thing.  I am the sum of all my complicated and contradictory parts.

But sometimes, as with the Suzuki violin mother, introductions occur, and you have to come up with something better than same-sex touchmonkey or Zena warrior.

(Incidentally I hate it when heterosexuals refer to Lynn as my “wife.”  Lots of lesbians have no problem with this, but as a writer I’m particularly sensitive to language, and I just can’t stand it.  If Lynn is my wife, then I must be her husband, which must really suck for her, since she is a homosexual.  A homosexual.)

I have found a solution to this issue, though.  I have my own special little stock phrase that I integrate into a conversation, and so far it has worked out beautifully.

Here’s what I do: from time to time, when I have to let someone know that my spouse is female, I simply work the phrase my-husband-has-no-penis into the exchange.

This is a very effective strategy.  It is funny, it is fast, and you don’t have to use the words transgender queer.

Fine, I give you that it’s a lot longer than the word gay, but it’s infinitely more original, especially when you are at a gas station having a cigarette and you can casually blow smoke out the side of your mouth and say, oh, you know, my husband has no penis, so we just use the same rest room at the truck stop.

When Lynn and I were first trying to get pregnant, we spent a lot of time at the fertility clinic.  We spoke to many physicians at the outset who tried to convince me that we needed to use medical intervention in order to get pregnant.  Conversations generally went something like this:

Fancy Fertility Doctor: Let’s stimulate your ovaries to make more eggs.  This will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Me: (holding Lynn’s hand as she sits next to me): Can’t we just thaw the stuff out and throw it in there?

FFD: It’s not an efficacious way of doing it.

Me: Yes, but, it seems so aggressive.  I’ve never even tried to get pregnant.

FFD: How old are you?

Me: 37

FD: All right, so we’ll start you on the Gonal F —

Me: But isn’t this a fertility clinic?  For folks with fertility problems?

FD: Yes.

Me: I don’t know if I’m infertile.  I mean, do you have any statistics?

FD: What kind of statistics?

Me: Like, how many women come to the infertility office to get pregnant not because of low sperm count or advanced maternal age, but because, you know, their husband has no penis.   Ha ha.  HA HA HA HA HA.

FFD: (silence)

Me: My husband has no penis!  HA HA HA HA HA HA

I can’t get pregnant, I’d go on, pointing to Lynn.  We try and try but something must be very wrong with him, doctor, I really do think something is terribly wrong.

At this point Lynn turns purple and looks out the window.  Sometimes she’ll smile meekly and say this is Amy from the Catskills Resort, and her next joke will be….

For some reason I find my little joke absolutely hysterical.  I realize as I am writing this that it sounds inane and embarrassing and puerile, like I’m in the seventh grade in Gloria Vanderbilts and feathered hair.  But every time I say it, it just gets funnier and funnier.  More importantly, it also makes real sense.  What could be a more banal, a more pedestrian and reasonable way to work into a conversation that you are gay than to say that your husband has no penis?

Since my husband has no penis, we don’t have federal marriage protection under the law.

My husband has no penis — of course we love the Indigo Girls.

Sure do wish my husband had a penis.  If he did, he surely wouldn’t need to adopt his own three kids.

Since my husband has no penis I had to drive all the way to Mt. Kisco to get my ovaries fluffed before Tuesday’s insemination in Manhattan.

Usually nobody laughs at my private joke, but I am always happy to have it.  It means I don’t have to say it. Lesbian.  Gay.  Homosexual.

I hate the label, so I make a joke.  I don’t want to be reduced, so I make a joke.  I make a joke, I make a joke, I make a joke.

I wouldn’t be the first now, would I?

One time, at one of my poker games, my friend Melissa, a dentist, told me that after I had gone in for a cleaning, her administrative assistant shook her head sadly after me, saying, “That poor woman.  Did she tell you? Her husband,” and here she lowered her voice to a whisper, “Her husband has no penis.”

Melissa said she was very confused for a few minutes and tried to figure out what in god’s name her poor office worker could be talking about.

Her husband, the assistant repeated, and I imagine her looking around the office at all the other patients reading their magazines, and lowering her head behind the computer monitor to finish her sentence.

The husband.  He has no penis.

It took Melissa a while to explain to the woman that I was a lesbian, and that I didn’t have a husband at all.

“But what about the penis,” she insisted.  “What happened to it?  How did it come off?  How terribly painful that must have been.  For both of them.  In different ways, of course.”

Melissa said they had to go around a few times before it was all straightened out and the next patient could go in for his bite wings.

At this point most of the women around my Texas Hold ‘em table were wiping their eyes and crying over this poor office assistant who  seriously thought the reason I was having trouble conceiving was because, despite vigorous attempts, my penis-less husband was unable to squeeze any seeds from her fruitless loins.

“She’s a lesbian, Roz,” I imagine Melissa saying.  “A lesbian.  And, she’s weird,” Melissa adds.  “Most of the time she makes jokes that nobody understands.  People don’t know what she’s talking about.  It’s sad.”

Readers, I am very sorry you had to read this post.  I am only now rereading and I must say, this type of writing breaks new ground in the personal narrative genre.  Melissa, I am sorry I dragged you and your office worker into this.

I must admit that I would love to know if any of you use different terms to get around the discomfort of coming out.  If you are reading this and you are not a homosexual, then try and drum up a gay memory or two, perhaps the time you made out with your best friend in college.  Please share your experiences and thoughts on my very public forum.  What do you have to lose?  At worst you’ll be deeply humiliated. At best there is always deep shame.  It’s all good.  Everybody wins.




  1. Excellent Zemser!

  2. This was heartfelt and hilarious! I had a similar,well sort of, experience recently when someone commented that my son looked really tan. I replied his Dad is Jamaican and he still looked dumbfounded, so I then asked him if he thought I left him in the sun a little too long? What a crazy world we live in. Keep writing away! And as a history teacher I also appreciated the story about the states, I want that book!!

    • Thanks for your heartfelt response to my post. You could not possibly know how important feedback is to me. Publishing these kinds of posts is a daily act of fear and bravery, and I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t have to put on extra deodorant every time I press the “publish” button. And yes, the scrambled states book is pretty original and funny. Always loved that one. Let me know if you have any books to recommend. I’m always open to suggestions. Thanks for signing on!

  3. Amy, I love you. I am crying from laughing so hard. Since we lived in the same studio apartment, can I say we were once roommates? In a non-romantic, non-Sandra Bullock, Lake House kind of way?

  4. Please do not refer to those who oppose the homosexual lifestyle as being homophobic. I dislike labels. As a heterosexual, I do not oppose the person, but their lifestyle. I would appreciate tolerance. Thanks.

    • Homosexuality isn’t a “lifestyle”, which implies choice. Homosexuality is an orientation, which means that it’s an inherent, inescapable, and integral part of who you are. You can’t repress your sexuality choosing some other “lifestyle” without doing grave damage to your psyche. Try it for a week – every time you feel an attraction to the opposite sex, suppress it and consciously choose to focus your erotic energy on the same sex. Does it feel like a lifestyle choice to you? The imprecision and insensitivity of your language diminishes the pain and anguish so many feel in coming out. According to you, they just need to choose a different lifestyle – easy enough. Further, calling a homophobe “homophobic” is no more intolerant than calling a racist “racist”. It acknowledges that we can distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, oppressor and oppressed. Unfortunately, W., you are on the side of those who oppress. Not only do you disapprove of this homosexual “lifestyle” but you want to deny those who “willingly” engage in that “lifestyle” fundamental rights of equal care, concern, and respect. Play with language all you want — you can’t hide the truth.

      Thanks W. for reminding us all how important this website is. Keep up the good work.

    • Congratulations W.! I think you have the distinction of leaving the first homophobic comment. A complimentary rainbow flag is on its way…..

    • The TRUTH is that homosexuality is a choice. I, as others, do not play with language. I would appreciate tolerance. Thanks.

      • W. When did you choose to be straight? I assume it was a choice – you must have opted for heterosexuality rather than homosexuality. After all, it would be rather arrogant of you to tell other people about their experiences and feelings if you didn’t have similar same-sex attractions yet chose a different lifestyle.

        Moreover, I’m not asking for your tolerance. I’m asking for what every other tax paying, upstanding citizen receives — full and equal rights. That’s what you seek to take away. So again, you’re intolerant and it’s not intolerant to call you out on it — it’s justice. I disagree with you but I’m not seeking to take away your rights. You and your ilk are seeking to deny basic fundamental human rights. That’s the TRUTH.

      • What do you have to back that up, W? Do you consider heterosexuality a choice?

    • W –

      people who think homophobia is okay/homosexuality is a choice should be laughed at forever. forever.

  5. I tend to say I like vaginas; but sometimes it comes out a bit inadequately. If at work, I say “the ladies” instead of “vaginas”. I like the ladies, so my sweetheart is a woman.

    Such a nice post! I got confused about your feelings on the word “wife”. I thought we had come long ways and now the “I now pronounce you wife and wife” had caught on.

    • To me,the word wife suggests there must be a husband. But that’s just me. Thanks for commenting! ABZ

      • ABZ,

        I’m here thanks to Yahoo’s posting of your blog, which has been the most uplifting part of my day! Having recently been married to my wife (yep, wife) in WA State, I would first like to agree with you that the word “wife” does suggest that there must be a husband. That is, of course, unless a woman is using the term. BAM!

        With that said, I don’t use any particular word for coming out to others. Sometimes, when clients are sitting across from me as we discuss their insurance policy (yep, I work for one of Satan’s little helpers) they catch a glimpse of my wedding ring. Within our conversation, they somehow manage to fit in a question or two about my “husband.” “How long have you and your husband been married,” or “You should come out fishing on my boat sometime… do you think your husband would mind?” Nevermind the fact that I have five pictures of either my wife or my wife and her son from a previous relationship directly behind me in plain view of each and every client. So, how do I come out? Well, the same way I would come out to anyone I suppose…

        “Ummm… I… I don’t have a husband. I DO, however, have a wife!” 🙂

        Your blog made my day and I thank you for sharing it with us!


        • Thank you for writing. I don’t know when you saw the post on Yahoo, but when it was first featured they literally removed every example of the word penis and changed each corresponding line to, “My husband is not a man.” Kind of killed the joke. Thankfully, I was told this afternoon that all the lovely penises were put back, so all is right in the world again. I actually considered asking Yahoo to pull their edited version because it was so butchered. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because doing so would have eradicated my chance of hearing from women like you. The response has been wonderful, and I’m so glad you took the time to comment. Please feel free to friend me on Facebook or to pass my blog around to anyone who cares to listen to the shameless revelations of a HOMOsexual parent who breastfeeds toddlers while looking for a squirrel to trap and relocate to Omaha. I’m glad you have your WIFE and I hope you are very happy together. And again, thanks so much for reading. This blog has only been up for two months. It’s such a thrill to hear from you all. Best, ABZ

  6. Anna Kuperberg says:

    When I first came out I didn’t like the words gay or lesbian at all. But I decided that because I didn’t like them, and because the straight culture also doesn’t like those words, I needed to use them a lot. It was a political decision. I really like how gay men have fun with language and there is no word that you can use to insult them because they will just embrace it and turn it into a compliment. I think the more we hide from words the worse they sound. I actually had a straight friend ask me, “What’s it called when two women are a couple?” and I said, “Lesbian, of course.” And he said, “But is that a nice word? I thought you weren’t supposed to say that.” So I had to tell him it was a perfectly nice word and and that it meant exactly what it meant. This is why I want to keep using these words.

  7. to BNF
    A complimentary rainbow flag does not need to be sent to me. I will just borrow one from my friends who have chosen a homosexual lifestyle. They respect my lifestyle choice and I respect theirs. Thanks anyway.

  8. I feel like all the insights to W’s comments have been explored above, but I do feel the need to say something. First, I should disclose that I am a friend of Amy’s. We met at a fertility clinic over 6 years ago when my partner of 12 years and I were trying to get pregnant. I had thought about other lifestyle choices up that point – being a foodie, a fly fisher, trying my hand at poker – you know, all those fundamental life choices we make who demonstrate who we are. But here I was sitting in the lobby of this fertility clinic with my female partner trying to have a baby.

    When did I decide that was my lifestyle choice – to create a stable, loving family with someone of the same sex? I would say when I was 4 years old and I realized I had an enormous crush on my preschool teacher. She was amazing. She had a boa constrictor and a miniature poodle and I so wished she was marrying me instead of her boyfriend.

    Now, W, I imagine what you are thinking – well of course you FELT that way but you did not need to ACT on it. And acting on it is what I imagine you consider the lifestyle choice, no? See, that’s what I tried to convince myself growing up. I laid in bed at night begging God to change me. When I realized, after getting into therapy at age 16 for that very purpose, that it wasn’t possible, this image of my future kept flashing through my head – being at the altar on my wedding day, marrying a man I knew I could not love and was not attracted to while my best friend stood beside me as my maid of honor representing all that I truly did love. However, I knew this vision was not sustainable, so I assumed I would be alone my entire life. Never able to openly love who I loved, never able to form a family with the person who felt most like family.

    Luckily I escaped that environment. I met someone who I loved in such a pure way I had never known it was even possible to feel that way. I escaped being surrounded by people like you, who spoke about the essence of who I was as a flippant choice. I had a child with that woman. He is now five and a half, gorgeous, funny, empathetic, stubborn and everything that a child his age should be. I have a family.

    I did not choose a lifestyle. I chose me. I chose to be true to the essence of who I am. You can disagree with that all you want. You can “tolerate” me and think of me however you would like. That is your right. But if you use such “benign” rhetoric to assert that my love, my family, my relationships, my rights are not as valid as yours than you are homophobic and perpetuating injustice. Think it through – If my son is hospitalized, a doctor could choose to not let me see him or make urgent medical decisions simply b/c he or she does not like my “lifestyle”. My partner could be dying in a hospital and I could be banned from saying goodbye b/c our union is not seen equally in the eyes of the law. These are the realities of your benign rhetoric and tolerance.

    Words carry meaning. At least be honest and claim your homophobia, because it has real consequences for millions of us.

    • Kelli –

      Please don’t bother W. with the facts. W. has decided that no matter what the experiences and feelings of people who are actually gay, W. knows better. No matter what you say, according to W., homosexuality is a choice. Moreover, W.’s ignorance, prejudice, and lack of compassion apparently deserves tolerance.

      How does W. know homosexuality is a choice? What’s W.’s proof? We’re still waiting to hear. But, we all know that prejudice doesn’t require proof.

      Your story is very moving and sounds very familiar to the many gays and lesbians who have struggled with coming out. Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m not sure W. deserves such a heartfelt, compelling response.


    • Nicely said, Kelli. And congratulations, Amy, for the IRS’s decision this week to recognize your marriage for tax purposes everywhere in the world (since the federal government does not see your sexual orientation as a choice). So even if, god forbid, you have to move to a place where people like W can “choose” to limit your civil rights (not that W would because W has magnanimously “chosen” to simply disagree with your “choice” of “lifestyle”), you will still be able to file a joint tax return and receive proper social security benefits.

  9. This is a great post! Your comment about disliking the term “wife” for your spouse really got me thinking. I understand that people have different preferences regarding marriage terminology, Every once in a while, I’ve found myself talking to someone whom I knew was gay and married, but who hasn’t referred to his or her spouse in conversation for me to know what term they prefer. The last thing I want to do is create awkwardness by asking too-personal questions of acquaintances. Then again, there are times when using the spouse’s name repeatedly starts to sound silly or I know that a spouse exists, but don’t know his or her name. Is there a polite way to ask a member of a married gay couple what term he or she prefers for his or her spouse?

    I know this is probably a silly thing to get myself all concerned about, but I worry about it nonetheless. I never want to contribute to the stress or awkwardness of coming out in any situation for anyone ever.

    • And I realize that you have no obligation to play “Miss Manners” for confused straight people. That is clearly not the purpose of your blog. Nonetheless, I was struck by your sense of humor and insight (and willingness to forgive people their foibles) and hoped you might be willing to advise those of us with good intentions but limited social grace.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’m a little insulted that you are denying me the right to play Miss Manners to straight people, though. If I am very polite and kind can I at least please give it a shot?

      You sound like a very thoughtful and sensitive person, and I honestly don’t think there is anything wrong with just being honest about wanting to be respectful. I think words like “significant other” work just fine until you know which word the person you are speaking with prefers. There’s nothing wrong with just saying, “Hey, how do you refer to your person or your significant other? I don’t want to make a social faux pas.” I also think you have to consider the person you’re speaking with. Are they shy, outward, funny, removed, what? Most people who meet me know that I’m pretty extroverted and open, so they just ask me outright (well, some do; others just say ‘wife’, which I find irritating, but that’s probably my problem) what word I use. Everybody is different; I think you have to evaluate each individual as they come. And don’t worry so much. You are the least of our concerns! ABZ

      • Thanks for the reassurance! It’s good to hear that asking will probably be okay with most people, And you are welcome to be my Miss Manners anytime – and I’m sure I’m not the only person who needs advice. The times, they are a changin’ and our vocabulary and etiquette with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity are becoming obsolete faster than our laptops these days!

        And as a confused straight person, I suspect that those using the word “wife” are trying to be respectful. There seems to have been a push in that direction from the marriage equality lobby. (Speaking of which, how awesome is it that the feds are recognizing marriage based on place of celebration? Yay!) If one objection to civil unions and domestic partnerships is that the terms place gay unions in a different sphere than heterosexual marriage and thus devalue those relationships, then it could follow that along with the term “marriage” same-sex couples should have the use of the terms “husband” and “wife” to describe married men and married women respectively. I sincerely hope none of them are trying to cast either you or Lynn in the role of “husband.”

        Or maybe they just don’t overthink and fret as much as I do…

        Thanks for this blog – I’m enjoying the heck out of it!

        • Thanks again for this. I don’t think it’s bad to overthink anything. Sometimes you have to ruminate, excogitate, perseverate, consider, reconsider,etc., until you have eaten so much of something that you just can’t eat it anymore. I think there’s something Jungian in there, but I’m not sure, let me check my references. And yeah, I’m psyched about the feds but I’m also annoyed that individual states still get to make their own provincial decisions about taxes and partnerships and other vital things. Sometimes people tell me I should be grateful for how far we’ve come, and I guess I am, but we still have a way to go. I’m impatient. Enough already. And I can be Lynn’s husband, I guess. I mowed the lawn the other day, and I took out the garbage.

  10. I can’t tell you how much I love this blog post! I find the little coming out moments so awkward and icky, and feel tremendous guilt that I still react that way. The moments before I say what I’m going to say, my heart starts racing and I’m overcome with a momentary panic. I have to take the leap and just jump into it, as if I’m racing through fire. The laying myself bare in front of someone is tremendously nerve-wracking, especially because I’m worried I will (and I have) find people like W on the other end. I haven’t figured out an easier way to do it, but I think it lies somewhere being confident no matter what the reaction is. I was laughing so hard when reading your blog – thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for this wonderful response. In many ways it was so difficult to write that piece; I was flushed when I hit the publish button. Comments like yours make it worthwhile, believe it. Thanks again, and stay in touch.

  11. Sigrid Clarke says:

    My husband has a penis, which nicely complements our heterosexual lifestyle. But that also means I got lots of the same questions in the infertility and obstetric clinics: “Why are you here?” “Why did you need fertility treatment?” “Woman, how are you broken?” The long answer would have gone something like, “My husband had a vasectomy 25 years ago and we were advised it was probably not reversible after so long, and IVF with ICSI sounded really invasive and expensive, and besides my husband hates his family and is only too eager to AVOID propagating their DNA any more, and yes I hope I finish reproducing myself before my grown stepdaughters have their own babies.” But that seemed unnecessarily long-winded and personal. So my favourite answer was, “we’re sperm-free.” After all, having a sperm-free household is awesome EXCEPT for those few times in a woman’s life when she’s trying to get pregnant.

  12. Sigrid Clarke says:

    “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”

    Maybe I’ll be able to choose a nice homosexual lifestyle too! That would really improve my odds, demographics-wise. But I doubt I can pull it off; I’ll probably be in stuck in stiff competition for stiffies.

    Keep it up Amy, I’m loving your blog.

  13. Ray takes Suzuki violin? That makes me feel inadequate as a parent.

    • I don’t know who you are or if I know you or not, but don’t feel inadequate. I don’t think it’s for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of work and some parents can’t abide by the (often) daily infighting. For me it’s personal, too. I would have killed on an instrument but my parents didn’t force me. And force you must. Also, Ray loves performing. So I know in the end that it’s worth it.

  14. I just wanted to say that I support you 110% and applaud you for being open about something a lot of people don’t discuss- the societal pressure to put a label on our sexuality and place it in a nice little box on a shelf somewhere. I consider sexuality a very fluid thing- you’re attracted to who you’re attracted to, things like race and sex bedamned. I always saw myself with another woman, honestly. Then, my mother and one of her friends decided that I would suit well with the friend’s son, and we turned out to be extremely compatible. He’s my best friend, my lover and my husband- the fact that he has a penis is just a sidenote.

    • Thank you for your comment! I congratulate you on your man and his penis. Meanwhile, they really screwed up my post on Yahoo. You should take a look at the original one. It’s much funnier (IMHO). Thank you for reading. I’m very glad to get your comment. And if you get a second, compare the original to what Yahoo put out there. Talk about editing! ABZ

  15. Kathy McBride says:

    The title of the article caught my attention because one of my lifelong friends husband for the last several years…………..had no penis…………due to cancer they had to remove it…….a very hard thing for him and her to learn to live with……………so hope you never have to make that remark to someone in my friends position……………

    • Oh please, Kathy. Get over yourself.

      • I second that BNF. Kathy is having comprehension difficulties pertaining to this blog post.

        • It sounds like Kathy missed the entire point of the article. It would be nice if she brought the same sensitivity to the issues Amy raises in her blog about hetero-normativity. Her over sensitivity to the one issue (her friend’s husband) and her complete lack of sensitivity to the other issues and main point to the article suggests more than a whiff of homophobia.

          • I’m all for pointing out that Kathy seems to have missed the point. But when we start saying things like “suggests more than a whiff of homophobia” we are wandering into exactly the kind of innuendo that we so often criticize the other side for. You are casting a complete guess at Kathy’s motives or the psychological underpinning of Kathy’s post as possibly valid with very very little supportive evidence. Take the high road.

  16. I find it really difficult to understand how you could read the entire article and feel no empathy for gay couples who have to constantly negotiate how to come out, especially when they come out to people who are homophobic. Moreover, I wonder how one could ignore the heartbreak of someone admitting that they’ve internalized homophobia. That empathy is completing lacking from Kathy’s post. How is that possible? It starts from a context that’s unsympathetic to the oppression that gays and lesbians endure. That’s not about taking the high or low road – it’s about hermeneutics.

    • I agree that Kathy’s post is very parochial and seems to miss the entire point. But you have no evidence for your conjecture about Kathy’s supposed homophobia. Someone who was thinking empathetically could come up with any number of other reasons behind her post. Wild hermeneutic conjecture works very nicely in academia in the real world it can come off as unenlightened and oppressive and bordering on slander.

      • What would those reasons be? It’s hardly wild hermeneutic conjecture to note that we live in a homophobic society and that Kathy had NO empathy whatsoever to the main point of the article. That’s frankly astounding. Not one emphathetic comment before launching into her critique. What could account for the failure to see what’s right before your eyes? Kathy failed to fuse horizons with the writer. Isn’t that how compelling critique is supposed to unfold. Be generous to the other side before the critique. You have to engage in studied obfuscation to ignore her utter lack of empathy to the oppression gays and lesbians face. Where would that lack of empathy come from in a homophobic culture? Hmmmm. I wonder. Chalk it up to wild academic conjecture and slander.

        • Her response is obtuse and therefore all the more difficult to catagorize. You’re being very creative in trying to supply motive to her post but I wouldn’t call it generous. I’m not sure I see “utter lack of empathy to the oppression gays and lesbians face” in her post. Your reasoning reminds me of line from Gilbert and Gubar about the ominous absence of something indicating an obvious presence. Your “Church Lady” sarcasm at the end emphasizes your insistence of the negative proving the positive. A bit weak, I’m afraid.

          • Actually, it’s your reasoning that’s a bit obtuse. It ignores the social, economic and political reality of gays and lesbians. It’s a view-from-nowhere approach. Like Kathy’s interpretation just came out of nowhere. While it’s always dangerous to make analogies to other kinds of discrimination, the comparison can sometimes be useful.

            In this case, let’s make an analogy to race. Kathy’s comments are akin to reading a story about racism to find that her only objections concerns the hurt feelings of whites. Maybe this fictional story is a play on the idea that white people can’t dance. Instead of examining the context in which the claim is made, the way in which it seeks to invert the locus of oppression and to play with dominant culture, Kathy believes her friend, who is white and who can dance, is deeply hurt. At the very least, we can say Kathy is completely insensitive to the race issue just as she is completely insensitive to the homophobia and discrimination gays and lesbians face.

          • I think you’re giving Kathy way too much credit. She has no context outside of this terrible experience with her friend’s husband’s penis, her comment is literally from outerspace. You on the other hand are purposefully using her ignorance and lack of understanding as a straw horse for your own agenda.

  17. Okay – so now we’re at a point where Kathy is either insensitive to LGBTQ issues or she’s not very smart. Given your argument, how can you make the case that she’s from outer space? Her argument deserves respect, according to your position. We have to take it at face value. And, we can’t rely on context to draw conclusions about her meaning. Maybe she doesn’t miss the point of the article at all. Maybe she only had a moment to comment and wanted to make one point. It seems to me that you too are relying on inference. If my argument falls, so does yours.

    • I’m only going on what she wrote which is very little and only tangentially related to the blog post. I don’t know anything else. Maybe she’s not bright, maybe she didn’t have a lot of time, maybe she’s so empathetic to her friend that she’s traumatized, maybe she’s homophobic, maybe she wears glasses but forgot them. It’s a lot of maybes. My post was about your conjecture and how fragile a thing it is on which to build an argument.

  18. My point is that you use context too. It’s contextual to make the claim that her post is parochial. How do you know that? Based on context and what’s left out.

    • Parochial based on the fact that her post only has one source of context which is tangential at best, completely outside of the topic of the blog post at worst. I think I’m only using the context given in her post as opposed to the larger context you seem to importing and attaching to her post.

  19. I don’t know Amy personally, I am merely a reader. But as I read the comments to this blog piece, I am perplexed by the request for tolerance, perhaps even acceptance, of an opinion that perpetuates exclusion.

    As one of my friends recently asked, “Is the argument against marriage equality: “My freedom of bigotry is violated by your full access to civil rights”?”

    (Amy, please feel free to correct my punctuation, I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks!)

  20. lepusleapus says:

    If you said this to me I would not think that your spouse was a cisgendered female. I would assume that she had a sex change operation. Unless she did, don’t you think this just further complicates things? I get that people want to have humor to have levity in their life but to someone like me who takes everything literally, I wouldn’t care or judge, but I also would have an incorrect assumption, I would just be confused and possibly or eventually just feel like an idiot over the incorrect assumption- I’m just saying this might be funny for you, but not funny for others. Also, it seems like you are not acknowledging transgendered folks or that that is actually something that is normal and that exists.

    A girl at work talked to me a couple times about her girlfriend (no space between the words) and I quickly realized that’s what she meant. But I didn’t think it was out of the ordinary or anything to comment on. She kept bringing it up with emphasis long after I knew- I suppose looking for me to acknowledge it in some way I suppose… What’s a good way for someone to acknowledge this so you don’t have to wonder if your point got across?

    To me it’s really sad that that would be anything that someone would have to know before deciding if their kids would play with your kid etc. I wish that this didn’t have to be something you would even consider. If I had kids and they went over to someone’s house who had two moms and I didn’t know unit I got there it would be the equivalent of finding out their carpet was green.

    • ^This. Thank you. When I first read this a couple years ago the humor overpowered everything else. However, I was going to show this to someone else when it hit me: What about trans people? You could very well have a husband who identifies as male and just so happens to not have a penis. It’s a thing. Look it up. The problem here is that saying “my husband does not have a penis” to mean “I’m married to a woman” assumes “having a penis” = “being a man.”

  21. Ick. Words. I most often refer to myself as “Gay”, because if I say “Bi” it makes my partner very insecure. It’s 32 years later, and we still have that issue. When we met, all those years ago, I had only had one other very fleeting same-sex experience, and I really didn’t understand the whole trans thing, so I was pretty naive as to what I was getting myself into. Both of us despise the word “lesbian”…because she (or he?) identifies as male, even though he (she?) is not transitioning. It’s all so confusing. And let’s face it, “Lesbian” is just an icky word. It doesn’t imply joy, the way “gay” does.

    Hello, we are lesbians. Really? You don’t look Greek.
    Hello, this is my “partner”. Oh, you are in business together?
    Hello, this is my “roommate”. I know some single guys, I should fix you up.
    Hello, this is my “wife”. “I AM A MAN!”
    Hello, this is my “husband”. “Oh my God, you are embarrassing me.”
    Hello, this is my “lifemate”.

    Yeah, that seems to work. Lifemate. It sums it all up and people can make whatever they want of it. (Don’t tell her, but when she’s not around, I refer to her as “the wife”.) And even though over the years he (she)’s concluded that the best way for her (him) to describe him (her)self as trans, she (he) still uses the pronoun “She” and still confuses sexual identity with sexual attraction.


  22. oh, and P.S. I’d like to quote a meme here about the word Homophobia.

    “Homophobia implies a fear of homosexuality. You are not afraid. You are just an asshole.”

Something to say?