Gosh..

I never though my has-been status would create so much interest. I have considered revealing my secret – but Clark Kent didn’t just come out and admit he was Superman to everyone now did he? It’s all part of my allure – not telling you when I was a fat c-status celebrity who advised women on how to decorate their homes and bake cakes with sweetener…

Seriously…

You wouldn’t remember it anyway.

It was a lot of fun, but being recognised in the middle of the grocery store wasn’t my idea of fun, so I’m not sure how real celebrities (with talent) handle it.

So let’s change the subject shall we… and move onto more interesting things than my has-been status.

The 17th of May is National Hand Holding Day – or something like that. It’s part of a campaign to promote equal rights for gays and lesbians (GLBT) and they’ve asked that all gay couples hold hands in public so as to highlight the awareness of our plight for equal rights.

I cringe…

I’m not anti-public affection. I’m very aware of it though. In all of my relationships I have never encouraged public affection and never walked through the mall holding hands with my boyfriend. FJ and I hold hands a lot. He’s what you might call a “digit clasper” – he holds my hand whenever he can. We’ll hold hands in a cinema, but never stroll through the foyer clasping each others paws though.

You see, holding hands in public – if you’re gay – is more than a statement of being together. It becomes a political statement, and generally gets a response. Some people point at you, talk behind your back and some friends I know have even been insulted by people as they walk past. Two men holding hands (out of a cultural context i.e. some cultures allow men holding hands as a symbol of friendship) is seen as disgusting to some, and an offence to them.

Two women seem to get away with it. The assumption is that it could be a friendship gesture and the natural response of the viewer isn’t to associate it with a homosexual relationship.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyywwaaayyy…

My point, and I have one, is that I’m not ready to hold hands in public. I don’t want to make political statements. I don’t want to rub another person’s nose into the fact that I’m gay. I don’t think holding hands should ever become a political statement and why I won’t be a part of it.

Gay liberation has moved on since “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” – a popular gay pride slogan chanted for years. They know we’re here. They had to sit through eight seasons of Will & Grace. People don’t need to see us as hand holding couples walking through malls to understand that we deserve a chance to be seen as viable couples.

I agree with Harvey Milk’s stance – I think gay men and women should come out and live responsible, mature and productive lives – actively adding to the lives of others and the communities in which they live – that generates acceptance.

I remember sitting with a friend, who I met though this blog (and hope she won’t mind me using this as an illustration). We were having a very pleasant lunch and had spoken before about her struggle with homosexuality in a church and biblical context. She sat looking at FJ and I and commented that she really felt the Bible wasn’t speaking about what FJ and I had. Because, well, we were pretty normal (my thinking – not hers). We are a regular couple who integrate well with others as a couple. We just happen to be two men.

But seeing our humanity, and not us as “type”, changes the idea of what a gay person is in many people’s minds. Two men walking in a street through a mall represent “type”. A gay man or woman adding to your life is humanity. That’s gay pride for me.

Gay men and women need to stop demanding for it all now by trying to make radical statements to force people, especially more conservative folk, who have a strong belief in the perceived biblical view of homosexuality to accept them (us). We need to ease people into accepting us. As couples, as friends, as people. By showing them that we’re just like them.

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19 comments

  1. Hmmm… I have no problems holding hands in public, though never in a way to flaunt my ‘gayness’ as a “type” as you put it. Though it manifests itself as a regular hand touching if we are in a ‘conservative neighborhood’ such as Pretora North as happened recently :)I just feel comfortable enough to do it most of the time. But I guess everyone to his own comfort level.Thanks for the entertaining posts and have a cool weekend 🙂 Perhaps I will see u in a mall and demand an autograph 🙂

  2. Sethy- I would never dissuade men from holding hands, so glad you’re comfortable with it. I just don’t think that holding hands is the way to get people to accept us. It’s also making an intimate gesture a political one. And you’d get an autograph. Hehe

  3. Complete 180 from yesterdays post!Hmmm. Now i feel sad listening to all these people who have the ‘option’ to hold hands. I admit I probably wouldnt – but I think if you didnt have that person in your life – the one you want to share your life with – the only thing that would consume your thoughts is wanting to show your affection to that person (not neccessarily display it to everyone else but it may manifest itself as a public show of affection and endearment)…..Oi yoy yoy – I dont know – my fondest memory was when he tied my shoelace in public. How sad!

  4. I fully agree! This whole practice of forced acceptance isn’t the way forward. People are often threatened by us because they don’t understand nor can relate to the concept of being gay. So by enforcing acceptance, the way we have been, we simply alienate and “theaten” them and their beliefs more. Gay pride is supposed to be positive and progressive, not aggressive. Otherwise we come accross as the “spoilt brat” of the minority groups, by throwing tantrums and sitting in the corner with puffy cheeks because we don’t get our way. Has anybody ever tried politely “asking” (so to speak) for equal rights instead of demanding it?…

  5. cm from dl – tying shoelaces is lovely. I’m not against public affection. If you’re comfortable with it, go for it… Andy – good to hear from you mister! Yeah, I think they asked but were outright rejected, so they rioted, threw high heels, campaigned for parliament, came out and started introducing themselves to people and gained acceptance. They they showed straight men how to dress and now they’re all the ragehehehe

  6. Yeah,if you wanna hold hands do it. But, for petes sake, do it for the right reasons and not to make a blerry statement. I am not a public affection person anyway. And I am straight. Straight is a weird way of myself actually. Does that mean that gays are bent? I guess some would say so.Lets just say I am heterosexual. Altho I am told my man in metrosexual. Grief.

  7. Mel – I’m starting to see into your mind a bit and understanding why your shirt was backwards… lots of voices going on at once, hey?:P

  8. Hear hear! Why don’t most queers get this? Forcing anyone to accept anything will have an alltogether different effect… Sometimes I wish people can be less militant and save that kind of behaviour for when it’s really necessary…

  9. Oh yeah, I´ll tell you somethingI think you’ll understandWhen I say that somethingI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handOh, please, say to meYou’ll let me be your manand please, say to meYou’ll let me hold your handNow let me hold your handI wanna hold your handAnd when I touch you i feel happy, insideIt’s such a feelingThat my loveI can’t hideI can’t hideI can’t hideYeah you, got that somethingI think you’ll understandWhen I say that somethingI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handAnd when I touch you I feel happy, insideIt’s such a feelingThat my loveI can’t hideI can’t hide I can’t hideYeah you, got that somethingI think you’ll understandWhen I say that somethingI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your handI wanna hold your ha-a-a-a-a-a-and

  10. An interesting point Rambler and subsequent commentators. I respect the view of being subtly affectionate (as you well know), but don’t entirely agree. And to “cm from dl”, the Beatles song never sounded so profound before! It’s 40 years since Stonewall. Those millitant Drag Queens, Milk and others are in a large part responsible for pushing the gay rights agenda forward. Because of the abuse suffered at the hands me the upright citizenry, they stood up and fought. Those bold steps gave voice to our need for general acceptance as people.It’s difficult to reconcile. What’s too much for some is perfectly OK for others… on all sides of the fence. But moving to the point of near total acceptance of our homophilia is the ‘goal’. As the digit clasper in a relationship, I would prefer to be able to hold a hand whenever. And on the 17th, a special day by all accounts, I probably will… Not as a political statement, but for a statement of love. Ciao4now

  11. T – I agree with you. I think appropriate militance is justified. Some call my blog militant at times. I think the IDAHO protest where they ask gay couples to submit videos of themseleves is great (and I've posted a protest video on my blog before)- that's a form of protest that displays humanity. Stonewall was an appropriate protest, as was were the protests during Milk's time which halted police brutality to gays. I think at times the gay community IS too passive. i don't think holding hands in public is forward protest though. and what I was trying to say that it's so important to come out and be mature, responsible gay people – because that's the ultimate gay pride.CM from DL – that's why I don't want holding hands to become protest – it's intimate… and an expression of love.Mel – hehehehe… you go girl!FJ – I'd also prefer to hold hands whenever – and am part of the fight to get us there… I've been thinking about it and I think it probably is an appropriate protest in the States – where their relationships have been attacked and denied. I don't think it's appropriate in SA where we can be in a civil union… I think we need smarter forms of gaining acceptance.And holding hands out of love is ALWAYS appropriate – who gives a f&%k what anyone thinks… 🙂

  12. Allie & OL – yep, it's sad – but also makes life interesting I suppose. Differing opinions, different things we can take for granted…

  13. my my my…we are so lucky being born white and privileged. not so long i covered a story about a lesbian who was stoned to death in a township just outside cape town for…well…being a lesbian. i suppose a rally holding hands in one of the major townships just outside joburg or cape town might go a long way…just saying…x

  14. Shoo, Jeanine, I’ve never claimed to be privileged because of my race and I have never said there wasn’t a need to stand up against homophobia. The IDAHO request was to walk around your local mall holding hands – there was no rally… two isolated people walking around holding hands is not going to change people’s views on gays… a rally – well organised with good press releases and a clear statement – will do well! And I’ve made that point in a later blog if you read a bit further up…I don’t like pride marches as such because they seem to have lost focus…But I’m all for well organised and thought through militance…like we did when Jon Qwelane got out of line… I’m very aware of your article on the lesbian murders… I read it again the other day in fact…So, no need to bring my race into it, or assume that it entitles me to a privileged life. Homophobia is homophobia, no matter where or to who it happens… and should be responded to…x

  15. you misunderstand me. my point is that as long as there is ANY for of prejudice, from murders to verbal slurs, then protest is neccessary.and let’s face it, race, ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds do play a part in discrimination.Gays in economically deprived areas (especially in South Africa) do suffer more from violent homophobia than lets say those in sandton. there is no escaping that sad fact.

  16. furthermore, the sad reality for gay people is that holding hands in public is still a political statement. if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. every time i hold my girlfriends hand in public, i am aware of the fact that people don’t approve, and that i am potentially opening myself up to abuse. that’s a problem, and that is political.also, i know you never claimed to be born privileged and white. i said that those who were, are lucky. most gay hate crimes take place in the townships outside the major cities, not in privileged areas. so yes, i’m afraid race still does play a part in this argument, and i don’t think we have to shy away from it.

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