Names and indicators

Today Benjamin received something from the March of Dimes in the mail addressed to “Benjamin G. Peel”. I have no idea where they came up with that, his middle name doesn’t even start with a G! What makes me scratch my head even more is that he received another identical piece of mail with his correct name on it.

That did bring to mind an ongoing conversation that B and I are having recently about names. We are considering changing our last names. The objective would be to change them to be the same name, but one that is different than either of our current last names.

The impetus behind this came from B a couple of weeks ago. It finally hit him that there is nothing that ties the two of us together besides our verbal commitment to one another. No children, no marriage certificate, no civil union document, nothing at all tangible. In fact, he said it wasn’t until he mentally went down that road did he feel the full force of being unable to get married. He finally “got it”, and then he got pissed :) His proposed solution to address this was to have us change our last names.

While B feels strongly about it, I’m still warming up to the idea. While I would love to be able to get married, mostly for the 1100+ federal rights that it bestows onto you, I’m content with what we have. My vow to B won’t change if we decide to change our last names, nor will it change if DOMA is repealed and we get legally married. That said, I don’t discount that it would mean a great deal to B, so I’m pondering it over.

B has taken our last names and has come up with several dozen last name possibilities — some of which are downright scary. My favorite thus far is: Garcel. Benjamin & Casey Garcel?

I’m not sure where this venture will take us, but I’m sure if we take the dive and change our last names our families are going to flip their lid.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

13 thoughts on “Names and indicators”

  1. The first association Garcel conjures for me is cárcel, the Spanish for “prison”. But never mind that; if it’s mellifluous to you, run with it.

    It was important to Jen to keep her name when we married because she didn’t want to be forced to give up her identity, which I totally understood. But I can also appreciate your desire to do justice to your shared life together while working around our backwards laws.

    We briefly considered a third surname for E when he was born, like Barhart (or jokingly, Tschiriou–pronounced “Cheerio”), but decided pretty swiftly that it was more trouble than it was worth and just gave him my name. Perhaps if/when a sibling comes along it will be her turn? We’ll see.

    There’s always the totally-unrelated-name-from-the-blue option. But if you go that route then you have to take the opportunity to choose something really flattering like Smart or Studd. :)


    1. On a whim I ran an anagram query for “Garcia Peel”. Among the many:
      Acreage Lip
      Agape Relic
      Gala Recipe
      Elegiac Rap
      Peace Grail
      Pelagic Ear
      Caliper Age

      …so that was pretty much a bust; sorry. As awesome as it might sound to be Casey GlacierApe for a day, I don’t think it’s something you’d want to live with in the long term. :)


      1. I had considered running it through an anagram engine myself but decided it probably wouldn’t come up with a good list of possible last names — thanks for confirming it for me :)

        Not sure I like the Garcel == prison association, particularly with B’s family being all Spanish speaking. [sigh] Tschiriou, however, is very cute/clever.

        Although GlacierApe does have a nice ring to it, I’ll have to run it past B :)


  2. Like John, my wife didn’t want to change her name to match mine; we seriously considered the same approach as you – Weiers, Meygel, that kind of thing. We ended up not doing it, for a variety of reasons, but sometimes I regret the decision now as people either assume we’re not married (if they hear our last names) or assume her last name is the same as mine (if they do know we’re married).

    Of course, you might face the opposite problem; might be more annoying than it’s worth, might not be.

    Dunno that I really have anything useful to say, but hopefully rambling is OK here. :-P


    1. Rambling is always welcome (in fact, encouraged!) here — this is the Digital ramblings blog for a reason.

      Thanks for responding, I appreciate the perspective.


  3. We discussed this very topic at our recent “Salon” session. Well, it was straight women talking about changing their names for either marriage or children’s sake, and they overwhelming all agreed that it is a huge, huge hassle changing your name.

    You might want to try and google that topic to see if some anecdotes come up that help you think about as many angles and implications of the idea before you do it.

    Just my 2-cents.

    FWIW: My ex-wife—we divorced almost 15 years ago now—still uses my last name. The alternative was to return to her maiden name, which was Collevecchio. “No thanks!” she said to that. :)


    1. Yes, I anticipate changing names (both the process and the aftermath) to be a PITA of epic proportions which is one of the factors giving me pause. As always, thanks for commenting with your insights!


  4. Changing names isn’t THAT hard, though it is a pain for a short while. The main thing is there’s this weird period where your drivers license doesn’t match credit cards (sometimes a pain when trying to pay for something – I always just looked apologetic and said, “I just got married – what a pain to change my name!” and people smiled and nodded and went about their business.)

    I thought a lot about whether I wanted to change my name – ultimately I did because of the same reasons you’re considering. I’ve been happy to have it the same – as others have said, the shared last name makes it completely clear that we’re married. It’s like a wedding ring – another clear external sign that you’ve chosen to join lives.

    I’m not sure if the same name will work quite as automatically for two men yet, though – it is possible that some people will automatically assume the two of you are brothers. On the plus side, regardless of exactly what people assume, it’s likely to more quickly grant you informal “familial rights” in some situations. (I’m never, for example, asked to prove that I’m related to Jeff for things like using a library card — the last name is enough for those situations that people allow it.)

    I’m not sure how to pronounce Tschiriou, but I like the look of it. :)


  5. personally, i can’t wait until my wife and i settle in SOME country (whether they have same-sex marriage or not) so i can change my last name to hers. i just have always looked forward to the day where i can get a cooler last name–no offense to my ancestors, there.

    i live in a spanish-speaking world, and i didn’t make the connection to ‘carcel’, actually. i think that’s because the word in spanish has the stress on the first syllable, and i read the name ‘garcel’ with the stress on the second syllable automatically. don’t know why i assumed that, though…


    1. i read the name ‘garcel’ with the stress on the second syllable automatically.

      Ah, interesting. I had assumed GARcel, but GarCEL might indeed be less likely to be linked with cárcel. Of course getting people to pronounce an unusual name in the preferred fashion is a constant battle. Take it from a Bariou–it rhymes with stereo, people! :) Perhaps you could help readers along to the iambic interpretation by going with Garcelle? Of course that’s apparently an existing woman’s given name in French and masks the Peel influence more. Garceel?

      What a tangled web of socio-cultural-linguistic considerations a name change entails. Best wishes on figuring it out, guys. :)


  6. Last Name Idea

    Hey, I’m not sure what option to pick in the “From” section, but this is Kim G…I want to weigh in :)

    I think you should pick Stratton. Ever since I watched Silver Spoons as a kid, I always wanted my last name to be Stratton. Second best would be a friend with the last name (John laughed at me) for considering suggesting this) :)

    Seriously though, that’s an interesting thought. Does it make it harder to track geneology? Let me know what you decide! Garcel does remind me of “Parcel”, but that’s not a bad thing :) Hi to Benjamin!


  7. changing names

    I didn’t think too hard about changing my name. I wanted to match my husband and give our family a common last name. I think it’s a neat idea if you choose to do that too. Changing was a small hassle at first, but it kept everything after that much simpler, since people do tend to assume that since you are married you will have the same last name (or vice versa). I also suspect that jonobie is right about people assuming you are a family and you getting privileges without having to prove it. That would be nice.



  8. I kept my maiden name, and, oh boy, the mail we get sometimes. Our favorite is when they pair husband’s name with my maiden name – only they add an O to the end of it. Apparently when you add an O to the end of a Welsh surname, it instantly becomes Egyptian. XD

    (If you do change your names, you might pick a surname of someone who inspires you both. Just, steer away from something too obvious. I think Casey & Benjamin Obama, etc, would be a bit much.)


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