The most recent episode included a scenario which covered homosexual public displays of affection in--of all the godforsaken places in the United States--Birmingham, Alabama, bible-belt capital...
This is what happened:
Operator: Birmingham Police operator 9283.And indeed, a few minutes later, a police office showed up and stated in no uncertain terms, "Just don't do that in public."
Caller: We have a couple of men sitting out on the bench that have been kissing and drooling all over each other for the past hour or so. It's not against the law, right?
Operator: Not to the best of my knowledge it's not.
Caller: So there's no complaint I could make or have?
Operator: I imagine you could complain if you like ma'am. We can always send an officer down there.
I was going to go off on a huge--and I mean huge--tirade, but then I read this post entitled "Take My Arm, My Love," by PD over at Shakespeares Sister, and as PD said it so much better than I ever could... Well, I just think you should check it out at read it.
No matter what your religious affiliation, your views on homosexuality, you political stripes--take the time to read it, and get to know what goes through the mind of every same-sex couple in the country when it comes to PDA (Public Displays of Affection), and then tell me what crime was committed in Birmingham that day...
And just in case you don't feel the need to read the article, here are a few excerpts that speak volumes:
[...] I doubt that most straight [...] people think about, or notice, how frequently they touch their partner in public in ways that are not necessarily "sexual" (in addition to kissing, cuddling, and the odd bum-squeeze) -- ie. holding hands, walking with an arm around the waist, smoothing the other's hair back out of their eyes -- nor do I think that most straight [...] people are probably aware of the fact that when I touch my partner in public, it's nearly always a considered act.I can't think of a single moment in my life where I didn't do a "security sweep" before taking Rich's hand, calling him "Honey," or just pecking him on the cheek. Even before Rich, every single act I made I made sure was "masculine," every girl I dated I made sure was "feminine enough" or "girly enough." Every time I was confronted with a situation which could have possible called into question who or what I was, I acted and faked it (and still haven't gotten an Oscar).
I don't obsess about this -- as in -- it doesn't eat up my days and nights -- and I'm probably about as "out" as a queer can be in this country -- but every single time I take my partner's hand on the street, or toss my arm over her shoulder or around her waist, hug her goodbye or hello, I do a little, tiny "security sweep".
[...] I don't edit myself this way because I am ashamed of being a lesbian. I do it because I'm afraid that someone else, who thinks I ought to be ashamed of being a lesbian, might hurt me -- or worse, hurt my beloved.
[...]I remember weeping in her living room as I tried to explain something that was, to her, completely invisible. I talked to her about how scary it had been to come out publicly after having led a fairly comfortable life as a closeted queer, and she just didn't seem to get why it should be a big deal at all.
So, I issued her and her husband a challenge (and I'll issue the same challenge to any straight coupled allies here who want to raise their awareness of LBGTQ issues):
Spend an entire week pretending that you're not a couple. Don't write a check from a joint bank account. Hide all the photographs in your home and office which would identify you as a couple. Take off your wedding rings. Touch each other, and talk to each other, in public, in ways that could only be interpreted as you being "friends". Refer to yourself only in the singular "I", never in the "we". When you go to work on Monday, if you spent time together on the weekend, include only information which would indicate that you went somewhere with a friend, rather than your life-mate. If someone comes to stay with you, sleep in separate beds. Go intentionally into the closet as a couple. For a week.
They took my challenge.
They lasted exactly three days.
Self-preservation is a strong motivator... Perhaps too strong...
I dream of the day when I have to fear no longer, whether for my own, or for Rich's safety...