Sunday, May 1, 2011
For most het couples, holding hands is a given, something taken for granted or barely thought of as one reaches for the other's hand while walking down the street, through the mall, or stretching out to touch fingers across a restaurant table. Even for those het couples who are not all about the public displays of affection, holding hands is an easy, assumed affectionate connection.
For gay and lesbian couples, holding hands in public takes a bit more thought. I would argue that it is still an act of bravery and courage. As much as it may feel as natural and inevitable as it does for any loving couple, it isn't that simple for us. In some nation-states, it is considered a crime, an invitation for life in prison or even execution. Here in the U.S., a hand-holding same-sex couple may be overlooked, but they might also draw stares, comments or even questions. For us, it is anything BUT a given.
That said, Teri and I hold hands. According to her, she has not always felt comfortable enough to do this and in the early days and years after coming out, she was not okay with this simple gesture. I am more ballsy and I tend to reach for her hand or take her arm regardless of where we are. Yes, sometimes, it invites people to assume we are sisters (see my earlier April blog post) but mostly I don't care what other people assume. Their lack of being able to conceptualize two forty-plus year old women holding hands seems a challenge on their part, not ours. Besides, this is the woman I love, this is the heart of my family and our affection is a gift. Period.
We are not the first couple for whom simple affectionate gestures like holding hands, a close-lipped kiss or walking arm in arm were considered potentially incendiary or revolutionary. It is, however, another simple way that some partake of a privilege while others are excluded. Most people never even give het hand-holding a second thought. Forget the big elephants like marriage equality or discrimination protection (okay, don't really forget about them but for the sake of this blog, I'm taking on a seemingly smaller chunk)--how about drama-free hand-holding for any and all loving couples?