The joy in Theo’s voice, I believe, came from how he and I surprised each other. He’s a muscular black man in his 30s, with long dreadlocks and glasses. I took him for a bit of a Rastafarian intellectual but wouldn’t have guessed he was gay. “It was hard for my mom,” Theo told me as we traded coming-out stories. I nodded. I understood.
On our honeymoon to Southeast Asia, my wife and I decided not to use the word honeymoon. The culture was unfamiliar. We didn’t want to shock people with kissing or hand-holding. Then midway through the trip, a surprise: rose petals on our bed, a bottle of champagne on ice, and a congratulatory note. We’d been outed by our travel agent. Tipsy after dinner one night, we opened our door to fnd a steaming drawn bath and our room aglow in candlelight.
On the last night of our honeymoon, my wife planned a dinner on the beach. I laced my fingers through hers as the setting sun glistened in the tide. “So romantic,” our waitress crooned, snapping photos of us. In that moment, I started to realize that I was the sanctimonious one — it was me who was guilty of acting like my marriage was abnormal. No one there was treating us diferently. They were treating us like we were special because we were newlyweds, and we had almost missed out on an experience that so many other couples savor without a second thought.
When it comes to LGBTQ rights, I’ve maintained a possibly naïve belief that someday we won’t have to worry about being judged, that someday no one will question the validity of a marriage between two women. In the meantime, my wife and I agree that the more people are exposed to the warmth of our marriage, the more comfortable and accepting they’ll become. So I’m going to say it, proudly and often: I have a wife. We kiss. We share a bed. And yes, she even lets me borrow her jewelry.
Laura Leigh Abby is a writer in New York City where she lives with her wife and their two Pomeranians. She is currently developing her blog, 2brides2be into an online wedding resource. She and her wife will also be on the second season of the Newlyweds reality show, which will air on Bravo starting March 10, 2015. Find her on Twitter @lauraleighabby and read more of her work here.
This article was originally published as “Why Is It So Hard to Say ‘This is My Wife?'” in the March 2015 issue of Cosmopolitan.