General Question

Riser's avatar

In a gay relationship is it proper to call your engaged partner fiance or fiancee?

Asked by Riser (3485points) March 18th, 2008

I was recently exploring wikipedia and stumbled across the word “engagement” which brought me to fiance and fiancee.

Upon studying, I know the word is French and that it has masculine and feminine attributes but is the male called the Fiance because of the masculine connotation according to the French language or is it in the assumption that it is traditionally the male that proposes to the female.

So, with all that said, is it proper for a gay man to say, of his partner, “this is my fiance” or “this is my fiancee” ?

Assuming, of course, that the gay man is the proposer and his partner is the proposee. :D

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17 Answers

bulbatron9's avatar

Before my wife and I got married, she called me her fiancee, and it never bothered me. Do you two have equal roles in your relationship? Just don’t call him your life partner, I don’t know why, but I hate that term. In my opinion, just say what feels most comfortable, even if it is life partner(but I hope not)

Riser's avatar

Bulbatron, for you and only you I will stop calling Michael my life partner. :P

Despite our living in California, we are engaged and will get “married” by aloping in Japan and I will call him my husband because, to me, that’s what he will be and right now, he is my fiance because I proposed to him and he said “yes.” I don’t need an other worldly or governmental blessing to say that, I am however curious as to the proper definition in relation to gender or role?

bulbatron9's avatar

I hope you two are happy for the rest of your days! You should call him whatever you feel. I have always said “Marriage is of the heart”, a piece of paper doesn’t mean shit! I wore a wedding band six months before my wife and I even got engaged. When you know, you know!

GD_Kimble's avatar

I think, because it’s a pair of fellas, they’d both be “fiance”. The French spelling is based on the gender, not who asked whom. Same way that men are blond, women are blonde.

iSteve's avatar

What else would you call them? Eggplant?

Angelina's avatar

Your male partner would be your fiance, and you would be his fiance, too. It’s based on sex, not on gender roles or relationship roles.

gooch's avatar

I think the term is reserved for those who are engaged to be married.

cwilbur's avatar

I think gay relationships are sufficiently different and diverse that appropriating the traditional heterosexual customs and terms with all the patriarchal and gender-role baggage that comes with them is a mistake. But it’s your mistake to make, if you want to.

Speaking grammatically, since you’re both male, you’d be each others’ fiancés. It has to do with gender, not with who asks and who accepts.

@gooch: as near as I can tell, they are engaged to be married once one says “will you marry me?” and the other says “yes.” The fact that they have to go to another country to get married is a shame (but irrelevant), and they may need to wait a while before they can be recognized as married by the government where they live, but that’s also irrelevant.

TheGreenBrideGuide's avatar

There are no rules where you are on new ground. My brother and his husband used the the term fiancee – I say go for it! (and if you do anything green for your wedding – come share at – all are welcome!)

Riser's avatar

Thank you for your responses. Cwilbur, out of utmost curiosity are you suggesting new words be created in replacement of traditional words or terms? If so, do you have any suggestions?

I am of the mind that tolerance, equality etc… begins with the individual and his or her mindset. One of the exercises of this is to re-establish “heterosexual terms” in the eyes of the society so the exclusivity is no longer as deeply rooted, however I greatly respect your views, Cwilbur, and would love to hear your opinions, ideas etc… toward this subject.

Thank you all.

Daniel Riser

cwilbur's avatar

I do suggest that new words be created, or old words be repurposed, for new situations. I don’t think sanitizing “husband” and “wife” so that they lose their connotations and their relationship with each other is the right thing to do. To me, calling someone my “husband” implies that I am the “wife,” and there’s a whole lot of baggage involving sex roles and traditional marriage that those words carry with them. “Partner” seems to me to be a better reflection of the symmetric relationship between two men or two women. What gay men and lesbians have is not the same as what straight couples have, and I think we should celebrate the difference rather than pretend we’re just like straight people but for a few quirks of plumbing.

Fiancé/fiancée seems to me to be a different case; it’s the same word, just with different gender markings. You’d just need to take pains to make it clear that when you wrote “my fiancé,” you were really talking about a man, and not just making a usage error.

And the word “marriage” is a problem too. I don’t have a problem with the idea of gay marriage—in fact, I support it—but I think using the word “marriage” for anything that isn’t full, legal marriage only serves to confuse people. A few years back, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was considering the issue of gay marriage, one of my neighbors thought it was ridiculous—not because he was opposed to gay marriage, but because two lesbians he knew when he was in college referred to each other as “my wife” and mentioned their “marriage ceremony” and he was sure they were legally married.

(Of course, now they can be.)

gooch's avatar

@cwilber the facts are fiancé = engagement. You must have a wedding date. If you were to do your research the engagement period was started by a Pope in the Catholic church. Being that the Pope doesn’t condone gay associations at this time I would not say they are to be married in the church more less in this country. I would once again not use the term fiancé

Emilyy's avatar

I say, call it whatever you want and live happily ever after!!!

cwilbur's avatar

@gooch: the Pope has my personal invitation to stick his fingers in his ears and hum until he turns purple. Gay people can, and do, get married in church, and straight people get married by justices of the peace. Engagement applies to all of them.

Zaku's avatar

Seems to generally engagement as a word (which can also be for things like engaging someone’s professional services) doesn’t necessarily have a fixed date. When someone is romantically engaged (to be married), it means commitment. I’m sure there’s a Catholic history, but people getting engaged to be married (even with scheduled dates) pre-dates like… history itself.

I like the idea of creating new terms or new ways to use existing words to describe same-sex unions, for the reasons cwilbur listed. Also I think much of the counter-reaction to “gay marriage” we see in the USA has to do with misunderstanding. Talking to people “opposed to gay marriage”, it seems not so much they don’t want same-sex unions to happen, or for the rules to be unfair, as they think of the word “marriage” as referring to man and woman specifically, so much of the objection seems based in the symbology of language rather than the content.

Angelina's avatar

If you would like to call the partner whom you plan on spending a lifetime with your fiance, and look forward to celebrating that union publicly with your friends and loved ones, I don’t think anyone can take that away from you, or tell you what you can or can’t call it.

For the record, my husband and I were married by a Catholic priest in an interfaith Jewish-Catholic ceremony. I believe in God, and I have respect for the Pope even though I don’t agree with all of the stances of the Church. Personally, I think that Catholics don’t own the meaning of marriage or of devotion to a loved one.

Fyrius's avatar

Going to be lazy and leave my two cents without reading the thread.
If this site had a courtesy sage option, I’d use it now.

“Fiancé” and “fiancée” are two forms of the same word. The only difference is one of grammatical gender, which always has to agree with the person it’s applied to. You will find the same duality in form for any other French past participle or adjective (charmant/charmante), and for some nouns (chauffeur/chauffeuse).
It doesn’t mean “engager” and “engaged” respectively. Both words mean “engaged”.

So two men who intend to marry each other would both be called “fiancé”, and two women would both be called “fiancée”. This has nothing to do with gender roles, only with gender.

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