"We're not interested in getting married," I said.
I could feel tears welling. For a teacher, the only acceptable time to cry is when reading the ending of Of Mice and Men to teenagers. Otherwise, crying at work is as bad as showing up without pants on.
When he asked me about the mechanics of queer proposals, he didn't know we'd broken up. "Well hypothetically," he continued, "if you were going to get married, who would ask who?"
"You want me to answer, hypothetically, if I was hypothetically going to do something I am not going to do - what would be the exact details?"
"Well," he said, "yeah."
What upset me so much was not that Amy and I were no longer together, although, of course, that hurt. As every queer person knows, our lives and relationships are always tangled with our queerness. With sex. With politics. With freedom of speech. With religion. We can never just be. Queerness is our zebra stripes, our leopard spots - inseparable, conspicuous.
After marriage equality, I still didn't want to get married. But I noticed that the end of my relationship was treated less like a javelin speared through my chest and more like a graze to the knee. 'That's a shame,' people kept saying.
What upset me most was that the real question being asked was: "What even are you?"
After marriage equality, I noticed two things. First, people stopped talking to me about marriage equality. Second, nothing else changed.
Kids at work still call me names, if the mood strikes them. One kid asked: "Are you still mad at me 'cause I called you a faggot?" Another wrote "You suck dick" on the board and then said: "It's funny 'cause you don't." I did laugh at that, after class.
"I'm not talking to you 'til you tell me if you're trans or not," a kid said to me, blocking the exit with his huge frame.
And it's not just kids. A woman once asked me: "Is sex for you just licking?" Another propositioned me at a dinner. "My husband will love it," she promised.
When Amy and I first talked about breaking up, I did the unimaginable. I cried at work. I asked a different Amy (affectionately known as "Work Amy") to help me with something. She loyally followed and, swiftly revealing the trickery, I started bawling. "You're crying on my boob," she said. We laughed as she steadied me on my feet.
After marriage equality, I still didn't want to get married. But I noticed that the end of my relationship was treated less like a javelin speared through my chest and more like a graze to the knee. "That's a shame," people kept saying.
A shame? When a mug breaks, that's a shame. When the restaurant's out of tiramisu, that's a shame.
Amy and I lived together. For five years. We loved each other. But even if we'd remained together for life, we didn'twant to marry.
"At least you're not getting divorced," someone said to me. "Gosh, it's lucky you don't have kids."
After marriage equality, the ceremony became available to everyone. But the social currency of a marriage is still the strongest dollar, and queer relationships still trade lower than straight ones.
During our relationship, Amy and I went to many straight weddings to celebrate couples who had been couples for much less time than we had. But when it came to the end of ours, people didn't rally around like they do when a straight person has a breakup, or gets divorced. What we went through didn't seem to matter.
"Why do you have to move out? Can't you just keep living together as friends?"
Friday marks two years since marriage equality and people still don't know how to talk about queer relationships. Queer people are still treated differently - in our jobs, in our relationships, in our breakups.
Kids still come to me at lunch, lip quivering. And when they cry, it's not because they're queer or because they're confused. They cry because they know exactly what's to come. From now on, everything in their lives is inseparable from their queer identity, even their tears.
By the time Amy and I eventually did break up, I was at a new job. There was no Work Amy's shoulder to cry on. So I saved my tears for the bike ride home, where no one could see them. Where they belonged just to me. And to the wind.
Sian Gammie blogs at The Sian Show.
The SMH/The Age