In a 12.1 N.Y. Times piece Maria Bello has announced that (a) she’s more or less bisexual these days, but that (b) currently she’s in a same-sex relationship with a woman she deeply cares for. Terrific. I can’t imagine anyone not saying or thinking the same thing. I can’t imagine any director or casting director for any film or TV-cable show letting this influence whether or not to cast Bello in any kind of role. Nobody cares. It’s all cool like Jodie Foster (or an approximation thereof). But I think that Bello skirts the definition of “partner” in her article.
My understanding (and please be civil if you don’t agree) is that “partner” is basically a gay term for a live-in lover and trusted lifemate — a person with whom you have merged (or are in the process of merging with) in all the usual profound ways but generally outside the legal sanction of marriage. Emotionally, domestically, family-wise, financially, strategically, etc. The real thing. (Married gay guys tend to use “husband” instead of “partner,” right? I don’t know about married lesbians.) Straight domestic home-sharers can use the term also, but they tend to prefer “boyfriend whom I’m now living with” or “girlfriend whom I’m now living with.” The term “partner” might be used by heteros, yes, but this hasn’t appeared on my radar screen too much. Whatever your orientation a pair can be partnered without being sexual (passion wanes, people slow down, the old D.H. Lawrentian current dries up) but “partner” does tend to mean sharing a bed, no?