We’ve been at the mall a little more these days. It’s one of the few places where I can get some exercise without pushing myself to hard. When we go on weekends, we often stop and have lunch in the food court. I pretty much always go to the same place. The food is good. There are lots of vegetarian options. The people who work their are nice.

So what usually happens is that Joe goes to order his food at one of the other places, he has several favourites, and then when I see him in line, having chosen where to go for lunch. I go to my place. We time it so that I order and pay and then Joe goes to pick it up. It’s a routine now, they know both of us. It works well.
A couple of visits ago, Joe decided to eat at the same place so we placed our order with the fellow who runs the place, the same guy I usually order from and give my money to. He looked at the two of us and asked, “Are you brothers?”
Joe and I look nothing alike. Even so we often get this question. I think people see that there is a relationship, a bond, between us and then they try to figure out what that might be. For some reason, they never, ever, think that we are married, or even dating.
The question threw me. I like this place and I like the food. But I wasn’t sure what their attitude would be if they had to contend with the actual nature of our relationship. I didn’t have time to decide anything. Joe answered quickly, “Hell no, we aren’t brothers, we’re married, he’s my husband.”
There was a moment of shock on the faces of those behind the counter and those in the line behind us. It was like they reacted in several ways.
Oh, they’re gay.
Oh, the fat disabled gay is in a romantic sexual relationship.
Oh, I don’t want to picture that.
But. And here’s the ‘but’ that mattered. Nothing changed. I’ve been back since. No change. Same welcome. Same sense of ease.
That’s the way it should be.
But often isn’t.
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