On Saturday my boyfriend and I went to a wonderful five-star restaurant. At the end of the meal, couples were given a single lovely cardboard basket, made to look like the small inn we were at, filled with a small sampling of cookies, chocolates, and fruit jellies.
I had also noticed that every table around us was composed of a man and a woman. When it was time for the waiter to deliver our gift basket, my boyfriend and I each received a basket. While I was not about to turn down double the amount of lovely homemade chocolates and cookies, I felt the meaning of our relationship had not been seen and acknowledged by the wait staff. It was a subtitle act making us invisible in a place I never expected to be invisible, the owner was well known as an out gay man.
After dinner, we asked for a tour of the kitchen—one of the rituals in this top restaurant, and a chance to meet the chef/owner, who, as I have written, is gay. When we were introduced to the chef he asked us if this was a special occasion. I replied that we had been dating since January and it was our six month anniversary.
I had not planned to say this but it had been in my mind that we had been dating for six months. It was also in my mind that our relationship has been denied by the two gift baskets. My surprise acknowledgment of our relationship status led to questions about if we were living together yet, why not, and his expectation that we return in six months for our one year anniversary. It was a charming conversation with the chef. My surprise acknowledgment also made my boyfriend and I a little nervous that I had made this public statement of our six-months together.
This intersection of the warm and acknowledgment of our relationship by the chef/owner of the restaurant and the denying of our relationship by the wait staff when presenting our gift basket was an interesting juxtaposition. I have recently observed this cultural denying that two gay men are partnered or on a date. When my boyfriend and I go out to dinner we are often asked, “Two separate checks?” When I was married and with my wife, no one would ever ask if we wanted separate checks. It is an interesting cultural double standard. My boyfriend, who has been out since his 20s tells me he has been seeing this for years.
I don’t want who I am to be invisible. I want to be proud of who I am as a gay man and public in my affection and connection to the man I am dating.