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An ideal husband.

"So let me get this straight. Are you proposing to de?" My boyfriend, a sexy clown with perpetual bed-head, shrugged and smiled expectantly. "Yes. I think so." Six months ago, we had tabled the registering-as-domestic-partners discussion because he found the whole concept too intimidating. "It'd be too much like marriage." He said this while folding my underwear. I suppose he found living together for three years, having his parents over every other weekend, and dishtowel shopping at Ross so free and easy that it left him with a host of other options.

I decided not to take his resistance personally and let it go. One of the perks of queerdom was that my relationship didn't have to mock the bourgeois conventions of heterosexuality. I didn't need a legal document to affirm my relationship, and I've never viewed marriage as a guarantee of forever. Look at what happened to Bob and Rod Jackson-Paris. Besides, it wouldn't be a real marriage anyway, just the closest proximity we can get in California at the moment: If I got hit by a car, he'd get to see me in the hospital, and if I died, he'd get hit with a mortgage.

Just when I convinced myself that marriage wasn't necessary, my boyfriend, Jamie, asked me to become his domestic partner in the middle of the Eat Well diner in West Hollywood. All of a sudden he's the mature one. I was furious. I said yes immediately, then cried into my root beer float.

I've been out since I was 14. That means I've been dating for 26 years. My early relationships were manifestations of my own virulent self-loathing. It wasn't enough for me to have feelings of worthlessness; I needed proof. The incredibly hot Baptist flight attendant who always insisted we prayed postcoitus so we wouldn't go to hell. The closeted actor who'd fly me out to visit him on location, then cover his bases by telling security I was a stalker. No matter what kind of abuse the world heaped upon gay Asian me, it was nothing compared to the disasters I willingly signed up for.

Luckily, I wasn't too much of a cementhead, and there was a definite learning curve. I had some fabulous near misses--great guys I wasn't meant to go the distance with. The Adonis who made a better friend than a spouse. The handsome mensch who lived 3,000 miles away. By the time I met Jamie I thought maybe I wasn't supposed to be with just one person for the rest of my life. Maybe I was supposed to have a bunch of different relationships that were meant to teach important life lessons. The kind I couldn't learn any other way than loving, fighting, and having hot, crazy sex with someone for several years at a time. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.

We went downtown, filled out all our paperwork at the state building, and had it notarized in an office supply store down the street. The notary was a friendly Pakistani man who didn't bat an eyelash when he saw that he was notarizing a domestic partnership registration form for two men. When we returned to the state clerk, the entire African-American office staff recognized me from the UPN sitcom I appear on and crowded around us to say congratulations, reaching across the counter to hug us both.

Minutes later Jamie and I were standing outside the office doors with our certificate, giddy and exhilarated. We didn't have a camera, so I took a picture of us on nay phone. In the photo he looks delighted, and I look slightly freaked out. I have the manic, disbelieving smile of a winning game-show contestant. I thought of all the times I've ever felt lost, abandoned, or just plain unlovable after a breakup. Am I willing to set myself up again for that kind of heartache? Do I actually believe that this is a worthwhile pursuit? I looked into Jamie's eyes. He makes me laugh till I pee. He's my best friend, my lover, and I miss him whenever he leaves the room. I do.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:minority retort
Author:Mapa, Alec
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 26, 2005
Words:688
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