Vault boy says: Be more inclusive today!
Ahh, gotta love the retrofuturism that is Fallout :’) That probably isn’t something Vault boy would say considering how 1950s he is, but here’s hoping he changed in the 23rd century.
People of the world! Please use the term “partner” to replace terms like boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/etc. Why? Because it allows you to examine and rethink your heterosexual privilege whilst making gay, lesbian, or bisexual people feel more comfortable. Here are some reasons for why you should evolve your mindset:
1. It doesn’t hurt anyone to say partner.
Using the term “partner”, particularly when inquiring about stranger’s partner (“how long have you been with your partner?” instead of “how long have you been with your girlfriend?”), avoids the heteronormative assumption that the guy you are asking has a girlfriend/wife or the gal you are asking has a boyfriend/husband.
If a person is straight, no harm done. A straight man may raise an eyebrow at the term partner instead of hearing you ask about his girlfriend, but that’s about it. A gay man, on the other hand, will likely feel uncomfortable if you ask him if he has a girlfriend.
2. Saying partner makes lesnian, bi-, and gay people feel safer around you.
Taking the initiative to use an inclusive word like partner is tantamount to pinning a button to my chest that says “I care.” This goes for everyone, straight, bi-, gay, lesbian, or otherwise. Partner is a recognized word of safety and concern within the LGBTA community and shows that you’re an ally.
One of the toughest things about identifying with a targeted group is knowing who you can confide in and who you might want to avoid, at least until the times change a bit. Language is a effective way to allow others, particularly people who don’t know you very well, that you fall into the former group, the group that can be trusted.
3. Using partner and other inclusive language raises awareness.
Many people get comfortable in their lives and become more and more oblivious to the simple fact that we do not live in an equitable society, where people of all identities have the same access to resources. Inclusive language is a great direct step to creating a safe space for everyone, but it also has a powerful indirect effect.
Oftentimes, intentionally using inclusive language, like saying partner instead of boyfriend/girlfriend, will create an opportunity for a discussion about why you use such language. You can explain what you said, highlighting your commitment to achieving social justice–something we still have a long way to go to achieve.