My Story

Growing up in conservative West Michigan, I watched lesbian and gay friends and family members struggle to be accepted and be treated equally. There are gains and losses in this fight every day, and it is vital for LGBT individuals and their straight allies to stand up and to pay attention.

28 February 2011

Facebook Relationship Statuses-It's Complicated

There used to be six relationship categories on Facebook—single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it’s complicated, and in an open relationship.
 (Image from here)
However, there has been one neglected group of people. Gays and lesbians who live in states where gay marriage is not recognized have not, up to this point, had an applicable Facebook relationship status.

Until now.

Facebook has revealed several new relationship status options, including widowed, separated, divorced, in a domestic partnership, and in a civil union. 


 I asked a few of my friends to try out the new statuses to see how they looked. 


Step forward or step backward? 
In my opinion, this is a step:


Having more options on Facebook is a good thing. If a gay or lesbian couple would like to use a new label, then great. However, if they would rather list themselves as married, that’s also great. I think the key idea here is option.

Many don’t agree with me. Some—including blogger “cafemom”—think it could lead to further harassment or online bullying.

Others point out that the separate-but-equal idea of civil unions is akin to racial segregation.

Still others say that this is not enough. For example, Facebook makes a user choose a gender—and the only options are male or female.


Of course, there’s the old argument that relationship statuses on Facebook are complicated (ha! It’s complicated!) and overly drama-filled in and of themselves.

Do we want marriage equality? Yes. Do we have it in the real world? No. But having more cyber options could allow individuals a choice as to what relationship best states what they wish their Facebook public to know.

Plus, more Facebook relationship status drama for us all to follow—er, roll our eyes at.

3 comments:

  1. Great post, Jaime--I did not know they had those options, and I agree--I think it's a good thing!

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  2. haha too true about the facebook relationship status drama. oh sheesh. i'm glad to know that for those of us who do not live in states that have civil unions or domestic partnerships we can still choose "married" or any of the other options.

    I do agree that there should be other options for gender. what options should there be? that is the question. certainly at least an option to remain unspecified, and an option for transgender.. "transgender f to m" "transgender m to f"? perhaps they should include "genderbender". Simply selecting "other" or something like that does not seem satisfactory at all. Nor is having only two options, however. I do hope facebook expands the options, and I am curious what options will become available!

    I also remember having trouble with facebook when trying to select your family members. AmityGaia was not able to select me as her mother (unless we were simply experiencing technical difficulties?) because she had already selected Casey as her mother. I was, however, able to select her as my daughter, and now Casey and I are listed as her "parents". I am not sure if this is a facebook glitch or if we just had a hard time figuring it out...

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  3. I hate the "other" category. People should never have to select it. I'm sure in the coming years Facebook will come up with some new gender options, and I'm also curious what they will come up with!

    Hopefully that's just a Facebook glitch you experienced... not only same-sex parents would have this problem. What about step parents? Someone could easily have "two moms" they want to list on Facebook. There are a variety of reasons to be able to select two parents of the same gender.

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