Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Something to Ponder While Out Christmas Shopping

As you trudge through yet another store, looking for that perfect Christmas gift for Great Aunt Gerta, you will undoubtedly see something that is very common. It's not new, it's been going on for a few decades, probably really starting in the 1950s and 1960s, growing more and more brazen as we wander up through the decades. Mostly it's tame, sometimes a bit over the line. Often it can make you smile.

It's the act of public displays of affection (PDA). You see them practically everywhere, in lines at movie theaters, walking through the promenade at the mall, swinging interlocked hands as they walk (too slowly) through the parking lot in front of your car. If you're a people watcher like me, it can be almost like watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Beautiful, perfectly matched twenty-somethings. Awkward, fumbling teens. May-December sugar daddies with their arm candy. Sometimes, you see odd combinations that take a little pondering, like a hottie Victoria's Secret model with a schlub.  Or the reverse, a hot military-lookin' dude with a woman who's let herself go far, far too early. And after pondering all of that, you might spy a couple who have obviously been together for 50 years or more, still sweetly holding hands.

It might be enough to warm your heart a little, and feel a little less beat down by the holiday hassle. But there's a consistent something about all of them. Something you likely never noticed, maybe never even pondered. No matter how old, tall, fat, beautiful, or unremarkable they may be, virtually all of them are heterosexual. Think about it, other then teenage or college girls having a goof by pretending to "go bi" (and really, how often do you see that?), when do you see a gay couple hanging all over each other. Or even barely touching?

I'm not really complaining here, don't get me wrong. Though I've known I was gay for close to 35 years, have been out for nearly 20, with The Other Half for 15 and married to him for 5, PDAs
You don't see this much,
do you?
haven't ever been my thing. How much of that was beaten into my by being closeted in my 20s, or fear of reprisal, I don't really know. I do know that my husband and I edit our behavior when out in public, keeping the "honeys" to a minimum, and other small adjustments. But even in environments where I think we can get away with it (gay pride events, gay nightclubs, etc.), we've never gone beyond a quick smooch, momentary hand-holding. To be honest, I've never gotten my fingers to mesh right for the standard couple hand-hold.

But I've never had the opportunity to practice! And it occurs to me every so often, particularly when you see a series of couples in various degrees of PDA. "I can't do that," I think. Or, "I've never done that in public." If I ponder beyond that, my mind goes to more political places: "If I did 1/10th of what that couple is doing, it would automatically become a political act, and would cause a scene." Mothers would tug their children toward them, maybe shield their eyes. Some would point and laugh, some might have more negative, even confrontational or violent reactions. One thing is virtually certain, it would get a reaction.

I'm typing this prior to a big holiday family gathering with The Other Half. Believe it or not, it's the first such Christmas gathering I've gone to with his family, and it's the first of any type where we're officially "a couple" to everyone in the family. My presence will be--to a degree--a political statement, or at least, very, very noticed. I'm lucky that they're all really good people, and most have been in on the "secret" from the beginning. But I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little nervous.

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