June 22, 2005

Out and About

There are many rights, written and unwritten, that straight people have which are not enjoyed by the GLBT community. Some of them are related to issues currently under debate in legislatures all over the nation, such as gay marriage. I’ll be writing about those down the road, but right now I want to address something much more subtle.

My fiancĂ©e Brenda and I are very affectionate towards each other, and we have no problems showing that in public. We don’t make out in the back row of movie theaters, but we hold hands, put our arms around each other, and are not hesitant to kiss while we are out and about. This is a right I took for granted until recently.

A few months ago, my gay brother and his long-time partner (who I consider my brother-in-law) were visiting us and we dined at a nice restaurant. Brenda and I shared a mushy moment, then naturally turned and kissed each other. My brother-in-law pointed out, “You know, your brother and I can’t do that here.”

By nature, they are not nearly as demonstrative as we are, but that point struck me as unjust nonetheless. Correct, but unjust. If they had shared a moment and turned toward each other to exchange even a peck on the cheek, it doubtlessly would have disturbed at least some of the people in the restaurant. You can usually pick someone out of any crowd that frowns upon public displays of affection regardless of the genders involved, but that number increases exponentially if it is between two men or two women.

I recently tested that point by thinking of how often I have ever seen a gay couple kiss on television, at least on a show not geared toward a GLBT audience. I’m sure I have seen it, but could not recall a single specific occurrence. It’s not all that uncommon to see two men or two women kiss on television anymore, but it is almost always between clearly straight people who are trying to embarrass each other or someone else watching. These situations merely reinforce the message that it is wrong for two people of the same sex to show affection in public.

To be perfectly honest, it has taken me some time to adjust to gay couples in my church calling each other “baby” or “honey” because I have been taught, both directly and through examples in the media, that they should not be doing that.

What a load of crap!

If there is anything this world could use, it is more people openly showing love toward one another. There are small-minded leaders of the Religious Right who preach how we should all love one another, but only so long as it is someone of a sexual orientation that meets with THEIR approval.

During Jesus' time on earth, he constantly came into conflict with the Pharisees, who enforced what they called God’s laws. These laws were actually interpretations THEY had made of God’s words to fit their own desires and beliefs and which they considered inflexible. Does this remind you of any groups in today’s society?

When I see my brother and brother-in-law together, I am filled with joy that they found each other. My brother in particular traveled a very bumpy road to reach the point in his life where he is happy and content. Surely he deserves that at least as much as I do. What would have been wrong with him turning to his partner in that restaurant and planting a big kiss right on the lips?

Absolutely nothing, that’s what. It’s a shame that our society makes it uncomfortable to do so.

You can post your feedback here or e-mail straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. I used to live in Rwanda, where male friends hold hands in the street at all ages. Even in very homophobe countries, you might have the occasional display of affection between men. But is it not typical of a homophobe country that displays of friendly or brotherly affection is considered "improper"?