Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Love and Affection...

Having you been watching that ABC series entitled "What Would You Do?" No, no, it isn't some rip-off of the "What Would Jesus Do?" reality show that is every teenage fundies moral compass (Ha!), but a show that creates certain situations just to see what ordinary people would do--or not do--when confronted with such a situation.

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.
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.
And indeed, a few minutes later, a police office showed up and stated in no uncertain terms, "Just don't do that in public."

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 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.
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).

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...

5 comments:

STB said...

It is interesting on how much life has changed since I saw my first public display of affection by a gay couple. Ironically I was in the middle of the East Village of Mangattan in 1990 with two very straight friends who didn't even know I was gay. We were walking through St. Mark's, the crowd very dense, and passing right in front of us were two very masculine men hand in hand. My insides became very mushy and tears sprang forth into my eyes because that was freedom, that was happiness. I wanted to run up to them and say thank you for being yourself and giving me hope to be happy with another man one day. But instantly all that shut down. My two very straight friends had to see what I saw and I was waiting for some type of derogatory comment or queer bashing. But nothing was ever said. We went along our day, never acknowldeging what we had seen.
18 years later I fondly remember those blossoming feelings of romance as I watched the two men holding hands and walking freely and openly down the street. I guess my point in sharing this story is that maybe continuing to advocate and eudcate for equality we can make it so that "Safety checks" are things we do to our cars before we go on long trips, and two men or two women holding hands together in public is as ordinary as looking both ways before you cross the street.

Sylvia said...

Ya know...it's weird. I recently saw a couple of (gay) guys not too terribly long ago. I was in the dollar store, picking out a birthday card. Something in the corner of my eye made me look in that direction. A couple of feet away, I saw them give each other a kiss...just a peck on the lips.
They quickly looked away, as if they thought I might say something. I did...
"Hey...don't let me stop you. I think it's nice to see such love nowadays..."
They seemed surprised and smiled and went onto the next aisle.
That was that...no big deal...until an older woman who obviously saw it too rolled her eyes in disgust...hmm...
Anyway, nice post...and I feel for ya. But, I can't take that challenge...I'm not that strong..
love ya lots
Sylvia

mom said...

hello jason! the abc program seem to be an interesting one but missed them all since what would you do in any of these situations should be common sense but i feel the world is lacking common sense. we are afraid in doing what we should do as the right thing because we could get sick or get in trouble also or a number of other reasons. i feel i came a long way how i feel on a lot of things but having a all out kissing and drooling all over with the different sex couples or the same sex couples should not be but just holding hands or a peck or putting your arm around should be fine. like any of this jason it is not easy for any of us to change and this is change. some people except change faster than others. i remember when black and white couples or any other race couples was terrible. i remember asking my sunday school teacher if the Bible said anything was wrong with this and she said no and did not seem at all shocked at my question. this was a big step back than. i look at you and rich as together for life and will respect you and rich like i would any other married couple. doing this is not asking you to have big situations of sex like acts but to except that you and rich feel like dad and i feel like when we want to hold hands or share a quick kiss with each other. this is the way i feel about other gay couples or any other couple. if i disagree or agree with all this is really none of my business since you are all on your own. there is a time and a place for showing affection or fighting or whatever else. i would not like if the world was gay and i would be the only non gay in it and i was told i can't show how i feel about my husband in a common sense way. we should always try to walk a mile in others flip flops before we pass judgements. i would like the same from anyone else when it comes to my Bible ways. like my sign says 'Dear Lord, put your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth. Amen'. love and prayers

mom said...

hello jason! the abc program seem to be an interesting one but missed them all since what would you do in any of these situations should be common sense but i feel the world is lacking common sense. we are afraid in doing what we should do as the right thing because we could get sick or get in trouble also or a number of other reasons. i feel i came a long way how i feel on a lot of things but having a all out kissing and drooling all over with the different sex couples or the same sex couples should not be but just holding hands or a peck or putting your arm around should be fine. like any of this jason it is not easy for any of us to change and this is change. some people except change faster than others. i remember when black and white couples or any other race couples was terrible. i remember asking my sunday school teacher if the Bible said anything was wrong with this and she said no and did not seem at all shocked at my question. this was a big step back than. i look at you and rich as together for life and will respect you and rich like i would any other married couple. doing this is not asking you to have big situations of sex like acts but to except that you and rich feel like dad and i feel like when we want to hold hands or share a quick kiss with each other. this is the way i feel about other gay couples or any other couple. if i disagree or agree with all this is really none of my business since you are all on your own. there is a time and a place for showing affection or fighting or whatever else. i would not like if the world was gay and i would be the only non gay in it and i was told i can't show how i feel about my husband in a common sense way. we should always try to walk a mile in others flip flops before we pass judgements. i would like the same from anyone else when it comes to my Bible ways. like my sign says 'Dear Lord, put your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth. Amen'. love and prayers

STB said...

It is interesting on how much life has changed since I saw my first public display of affection by a gay couple. Ironically I was in the middle of the East Village of Mangattan in 1990 with two very straight friends who didn't even know I was gay. We were walking through St. Mark's, the crowd very dense, and passing right in front of us were two very masculine men hand in hand. My insides became very mushy and tears sprang forth into my eyes because that was freedom, that was happiness. I wanted to run up to them and say thank you for being yourself and giving me hope to be happy with another man one day. But instantly all that shut down. My two very straight friends had to see what I saw and I was waiting for some type of derogatory comment or queer bashing. But nothing was ever said. We went along our day, never acknowldeging what we had seen.
18 years later I fondly remember those blossoming feelings of romance as I watched the two men holding hands and walking freely and openly down the street. I guess my point in sharing this story is that maybe continuing to advocate and eudcate for equality we can make it so that "Safety checks" are things we do to our cars before we go on long trips, and two men or two women holding hands together in public is as ordinary as looking both ways before you cross the street.