The other day I was having a conversation with a client about pronouns. He is an older man who grew up in a small town, and as happens with people who are comfortable with the way things are, he pushed back pretty hard when asked to change the pronouns he was using for a colleague who is nonbinary. Because he thinks the colleague “looks like a man”, my client thinks their pronouns should reflect that outward appearance.
I spent some time acknowledging that change can make anyone uncomfortable, then I explained the gender spectrum and how the reality is that there is a lot more to gender than just male and female. The conversation took a while, and I found myself getting frustrated a few times, but I stuck with it, because it’s an important conversation to have.
At one point, my client asked, “What’s your pronouns, then?”
I answered without thinking. “My pronoun is love.”
He looked at me with startled eyes before I could see that he was thinking about it.
“You know, that would make sense. You being ‘the love guy’ and all. Everybody knows that about you, so that makes sense.I respect that about you, Mr. Nolan.”
“See how easily you accepted that I changed my pronouns from he/him to love? That’s how easy it is to accept calling anyone by their pronouns. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. If it makes them feel seen and accepted, isn’t it worth it to use the word they request?”
“Okay, I think I get it. I’ll try to remember that. Damn, Mr. Nolan. Whatever they’re paying you it isn’t enough.”
I have no idea where I came up with the answer that my pronoun is love, but upon reflection I am enamored with the thought. Take a second to imagine it in practice:
Love is in the office waiting to talk to you.
Love asked me to tell you to have a great day.
Love is taking me to lunch.
Love reminded me to take my meds.
Love helped me understand the importance of pronouns and their use.
And never forget that I love you.