Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Remember when you had a substitute teacher in grade school? They would typically roll in one of those TVs on those strange rolling shelves they were kept on and you'd probably be watching a video that may or may not have anything to do with what you were studying.
Well this might be a little like one of those days because this post is centered on a video so I have rolled in that squeaky shelf with the TV on it for us to enjoy it:
Self-editing is something we all do to an extent, whether it is to be polite, not cause a fuss, or just because we don’t have anything nice to say (thanks to Mom for teaching me not to say it at all 😊). While it can be good in some cases, it can also be extremely harmful in others such as when someone in the LGBTQ community is deciding when and how to show affection to the ones they love.
My boyfriend shared this video with me not too long ago, and I cried. It reminded me of the times when I would have felt too ashamed to hold his hand, and the daily decisions we make now about when and how to show our affection in public. I’ve always believed (unfortunately) that holding hands with another man in broad daylight is way more intimate than sex behind closed doors, but that is thankfully changing every day thanks to those willing to #holdtight.
The video is a couple years old, but I think the message still holds true – for better or worse. I think folks would like to think that we are farther along on certain things than we are. I truly don't believe that we do this maliciously, but rather that we want to be better so we think homophobia isn't as present as it used to be. The truth is there is still a long ways to go, but the positive is that folks are holding tight in the light of day.
Just last week, the Prime Minister of Ireland (who happens to be a gay guy) accepted and attended a breakfast hosted by Vice President Pence with his partner at his side. Now, it's hopefully not a secret that Vice President Pence has been publicly anti-gay for a majority of his political career so it would have been understandable for the Irish PM and his partner to decide against attending together, but the two men decided to #holdtight and show up. The Irish PM gave a speech and stated:
"I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs." Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
I can't imagine how much courage it took for him to not only bring his partner but also to share those words in front of Mike Pence. I also wish that didn't have to take so much courage. Any coverage I saw of this event focused mainly on the scandal of it all, but the truth is that this shouldn't be controversial at all. It was just two committed male partners showing up to a breakfast. Funny how such a small act can carry so much weight.
I remember talking with my therapist about my coming out process and saying something to the effect of "yeah basically after a certain threshold I just stopped having the conversation. It was just too emotionally exhausting to keep having it over and over again." He related to that notion and shared that he found that his life got easier once he had the chance to establish it. He shared that after that happened he rarely 'came out' very often, but merely would reference what he and his partner did over the weekend, what their child was studying at school, or something else about their lives. He said that his sexuality became relational rather than theoretical at that point in his life.
I make a lot of jokes about the 'gay agenda' not existing and how I'm mad that I never get invited to the conference calls if it does exist. But I do think that if there were to be a gay agenda, something LGBTQ+ folks and supporter could get behind, it would be creating a world in which people's sexuality is relational rather than theoretical. A world where they no longer have to have the terrible, no good, very bad and anxiety inducing conversation that starts with "I'm gay" before just simply introducing their boyfriend or girlfriend.
A common complaint gay folks hear is to "get it out of my face. I don't want to see it." This plays into the shame that gay folks feel even after coming out. Now there is plenty that should be kept private, but I don't think that includes holding your loved ones hand. The truth is that each of those instances of holding tight is actively creating space for a world where being gay can be relational and absolutely ok.
Thank you to those who fight back shame and #holdtight every day, and those who create space to support that love.