Obituaries - What is the correct or PC wording?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    My best friends lover died last Tuesday. :frown1: They had been together just over 20 years.

    I was reading his obit and was some what irked by the fact the obit referred to my friend as the deceaseds "dear friend". Has this replaced "longtime companion" as the PC term for gay lover? If so I will accept it, as I have no choice. It just seems so benign and not at all accurate. Of course they were best friends; but they were so much more than that as well.

    I dunno maybe it's my own inability to deal with his sudden passing.:frown1: I swear they worded the obituary so that he sounded straight. :12: Which is stupid because he was out at work and he worked in education. EVERYONE loved him!

    My question after all that rambling, is what is the correct way to refer to a gay persons lover in an obituary?
     
  2. flame boy

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    Firstly, sorry for your loss NJ :frown1:

    Well I agree that "dear friend" doesn't do justice one bit for your friend however if I read this in an obituary I would presume it meant "boyfriend" but I totally agree that it doesnt do justice.

    I know in the UK the term "partner" is used a lot when talking about a same sex other half. I have even used this term and it does seem to be common place as the general term.
     
  3. koval

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    It does sound a bit insensitive to me as if they were still in denial about being gay. But that is just my interpretation of it.

    Please give your friend my condolence on their loss.
     
  4. prepstudinsc

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    When I have written obituaries for gay people, I generally have used the word partner. However, at least here, where the next-of-kin has final say-so, it often means parents are in charge of everything, including the bill at the funeral home. If the parents and the deceased were not close, it can really cause some hurt feelings, because they will leave the partner out of any decision making process.

    While I'm not in favor of gay "marriage", this type of thing really shows that domestic partnership laws need to be uniform from state to state. I feel that marriage is something that is ordained by God, a civil union or domestic partnership is the non-religious form of any commitment between two people--gay or straight. People in common law "marriages" have the same troubles when it comes to HIPAA laws at hospitals, making final arrangements at a funeral home, being on health insurance and on and on.
    If we would recognize that people have formed a civil union, a lot of the legalities would be abated.
     
  5. Catchoftheday

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    Sorry to hear the sad news <big hug>

    However i do hope ther is no such thing as a correct way to refer to a persons relationship with someone be it gay or otherwise I think people should be free to express their relationship in any way they feel fitting as each one is unique. Hopefully the people who actually matter will already know the peoples relationship and the people who don't probably wont care much.

    I don't think this makes much sense but I don't think that will stop me from putting on here anyway :frown1:
     
  6. B_Hung Muscle

    B_Hung Muscle New Member

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    That's really bad news, NJ.

    The New York Times writes "partner."
     
  7. SpeedoMike

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    Again, sorry for your loss... :sorry:

    Obits are often written by the low wo/man on the totem pole at the paper who knows nothing about the deceased. It's difficult to keep saying the same thing over and over. Chances are the writer doesn't really understand the situation.

    Another take is that the mortuary put the info together as received from the family and sent it to the paper. In those cases, the obit is, sadly, nothing more than a paid advertisement.

    A similar gaffe, only slightly less hurtful, is that an obit mentions the deceased, a lifetime licensed amateur radio operator, as a CBer and refers to his FCC-issued call sign as his "handle".

    My dad, a community leader for over 30 years got about 1 1/2 column inches which didn't mention his numerous recognitions and accomplishments or even his children's names. Go figure.
     
  8. midlifebear

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    Dear njqt466:



    I am sincerely sorry to hear of your loss. You touch upon a very important subject, though.

    Speaking from personal and practical experience, regardless what others may or may not regard as a "marriage" and "ordained by God" -- which really seems to depend upon what century you're living in -- my spouse and I are recognized on all our legal documents as "esposos." In English that translates directly into "husbands." Sometimes one hears couples refer to one another as "mi pareja." In Spanish (castellano) "pareja" is always feminine. Therefore, many gay men and women in el mundo Latino prefer to use it because they don't have to explain why, for example, if one is male one refers to his mate as his "esposo" (husband) or if Lesbian her "esposa" (wife). But in my adopted countries, gay civil unions and/or marriages are currently legal. So, I'm not too worried about what happens when either I or The Squeeze dies.

    Of course, the USA is different. Many newspapers (even the New York Times) will change the use of husband or wife in the obit of a gay person to "partner" or "companion", even though they are now thrilled to publish same sex "commitment ceremonies" in the Social Page section. Therefore, it's VERY ADVISABLE that gay couples prepay for their funeral arrangements, including the writing or at least approving the copy, of their own obituaries. Most Journalism students will remember that writing one's own obituary is often the first writing assignment they have in college or university when they begin their majors. There is no law anywhere in the USA that prevents one from writing their own obituary in anticipation of their death and keeping it available with their health directive documents (i.e., Living Will to do not or please do resuscitate). I forget the actual name for this directive, but they are free, all hospitals have them and will give you one. Everyone, gay or straight, is well advised to have one available and handy, just like your organ donor card.

    It may sound grim, but once the check is cashed the funeral director as well as the paper(s) who receive the prepayment for keeping a copy of your obit on file and eventually publishing it (usually so many $'s per word) are contractually obligated to publish it as written. Granted, newspapers can refuse to publish the obit and return the money to the loved one's estate. So, gays must "shop around" for a daily that will agree to publish their obits as written. For example, the Reno Gazette and Las Vegas Sun have no issues about gay obituaries. The Elko Daily News is vehemently anti-gay and refuses to publish anything that suggests the person may have been anything other than heterosexual -- unless, of course they are caught having sex in a public restroom, in which case "it's valuable public news."



    Likewise, many newspapers in the USA out-right refuse to recognize gay marriages OR civil unions, regardless if the couple was recognized as enjoined in a legal civil union as well as having had a formal wedding afterwards. This always astounds me. Once any couple, gay or straight, has received their marriage/civil union license (note, the word "marriage") they really don't need to further announce to the world they are a married couple to be legal. However, as well all know most go off to spend whatever they wish for a formal public ceremony in a church and then reception or party afterwards.

    When referring to my legal squeeze in the USA I push the social envelope and always say "husband." I'm well beyond worrying over the snickers this engenders and the speculation that I am a "bottom." Not an issue. And I don't do it just to irk those who think their legal coupling is somehow more sacred and special than ours. That's their problem. Imagine the fight I had with my own gay attorney when drawing up my Living Trust for my assets in the USA. She insisted, even though very sympathetic, that my distant relations (brother, his daughters, their husbands -- none of whom ever return any of my calls or acknowledge receiving friendly cards and letters) could still place a "notice of interest" against my estate and hold up the dispersal of my assets in court until nothing was left. Therefore, I had her create an iron-clad legal contract (only the future will prove if it works or not) which the person I selected and who has agreed to be the my executor signed giving them my limited power of attorney to disperse my estate according to my Will, ensuring the bulk of it goes to my husband. In return, my executor will be well compensated for this responsiblity. Of course, laws very State by State. For this reason, among others, I maintain my permanent residence in the USA in the State of Nevada. The laws of other States rarely succeed in imposing their reach on things dealing with Wills and Estates in the Silver State -- although it's not unheard of.




    Again, I understand how odd you felt when reading your friend's obit. The term "dear friend" seems to imply things are going backwards in the USA. In 1980 a "dear friend" had his home on Fire Island featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The reporter who came out to interview us was gay. But the editors at the NYT just couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge that I and my "dear friend" were homosexuals. Therefore, the politically correct term they used to describe us was "design-conscious summer residents." We immediately had 100 T-shirts printed up that proclaimed "My Friends Are Design-Conscious Summer Residents!" and gave them away as house gifts to everyone who visited. I suppose, for the era, it was better than referring to us as "flaming queen and toxic boy-toy." LOL!



    And, of course, "Good luck with that."



    Cheers
     
  9. simcha

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    And sometimes they do justice. The Chicago Tribune and the Northwest Suburban Daily Herald ran articles on my Dad in the obituaries section when he died. He was an outstanding English Teacher at a Northwest Suburban high school for over 30 years. He was credited with starting their advanced placement curriculum and pedagogical method. He was very well loved by students and faculty alike in his district. His wake was two days long and was packed. I met people who had had my father as a track coach, football coach, chess coach, teacher, from 30 years ago. And I met people who had recently been in his classes and who had worked with him. The funeral mass was packed and the church where we had it is huge. The funeral cavalcade stretched back for almost a mile or so. We crowded out the small-town cemetary.

    So, sometimes a story grabs the obituary writer's attention. We were overwhelmed by the response to my father's sudden death almost two years ago...

    And njqt, sorry to hear about your loss. Yeah, the papers can be homophobic still and sometimes the family insists on ambiguous language because one or both of the partners may not be totally out. So, sometimes they are ambiguous out of respect for the family's or partner's wishes.
     
  10. midlifebear

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    Simcha, my love:
    Sounds as though your father was recognized as a well-known community leader. In which case, local papers usually keep files and have drafts of obits for community notables ready -- even if the subject of those draft obits doesn't regard him or her self as terribly news worthy. You were fortunate.

    However, the overwhelming majority of obits are written by friends or family members involved in making the funeral arrangements. I discovered this the hard way when most of my close friends died during the early years of the AIDS pandemic. At the request of surviving partners and immediate family I was frequently asked to write obits for my dead friends and follow through by ensuring the approved text was faxed from the funeral home to the local papers. I also wrote the obits for my own parents. No one else had a clue. Everyone thought it was done by the funeral home. Not.

    Anyway, you and your family were fortunate to have such an active charitable father. For those of us less well-known, (especially professional indolents like me) it's advisable we write our own obits and be remembered the way we want to be remembered. Otherwise, the most likely scenarios will be:
    1) someone in your family rewriting your memory and coloring it as they see fit or,
    2) if no one writes anything you'll simply have your name and age appear under the "This Weeks Deaths/This Weeks Births" stats section of a the local daily.

    And sorry to hear about your loss, as well. My father died 12+ years ago and I'm still sad, mourning the fact he's not around to spit and argue with.

    Best wishes.

    The soon-to-be-going-to-the-rock-orchard-himself, Mr. Midlifebear.
     
  11. Phil Ayesho

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    Proper wording...

    His dear companion in all things.




    to hell with what anyone else thinks
     
  12. visualalert

    visualalert New Member

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    My dad wrote his own before he died - no problem. My mom has written hers. I've made/paid for all my arrangements except I keep putting my obit off. The deal is pretty simple: if you don't make all your funeral arrangements yourself (including the obit), someone else will decide for you.

    Basically I got myself all set up for the last ride as a courtesy to my relatives who survive me - they will have enough hassle settling the estate, but at least they'll get some money out of the deal!
     
  13. ZOS23xy

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    Here in my state they use "life partner" and have used "long term companion". Often people live together and they're relatives and not sexual in any way. "Long term housemate" has been used, as well as "live in cousin". People who seek to distort facts with bad impressions are problems unto themselves.
     
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