Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Kiss in the Lobby

The first time he did it, I was taken aback. My first reaction was one of fear, was anyone watching, were we gong to be safe, from which direction will the attack come. My second reaction came simultaneously with the realization that we were completely alone, and because of that, we were safe.

I had been dropped off at work and Joe was preparing to head back home. He leaned over and kissed me goodbye. He'd never done that before out in public. It seems strange to speak of a deserted lobby in the dark early morning as public but it is, even when you think yourself unseen, you may not be. 

I have a deep seated fear of open public affection. I have held Joe's hand occasionally when we were buried deep inside a pride parade but even there I found myself tensing up, fearing retribution for the open display of our relationship.

Joe was hit by a rock thrown at him as we marched in an early pride march..

We were in a bus full of LGBT people that was attacked by a homophobic mob, we feared for our lives.

Growing up LGBT people were targeted hate filled language and hate fueled violence. We'd seen faces of people who had been on the other side of a police officers fist. We knew we had no protectors. We had to develop our own strategies. Joe and I, we were cautious, we went to bars, we went to marches, we protested when protests needed to happen, we did what we felt we had to do to show our solidarity with others of our kind. But, we never touched and kissing was out of the question.

But now is a different time. My head tells me that. My heart, though, after years of being told that it was defective, and sinful, and perverted, and lustful, and that it would be better for the world if it stopped beating at all, tells me that times change that oppression lingers always around the freedom of those called 'others'.

I see in the United States poll after poll showing the decline of public acceptance for LGBT rights. I see a married couple, two young men, taken into a safe house in Russia because they declared their marriage valid. I see the stats on the rising tide of anti-gay violence.

Amid all this.

Joe kissed me goodbye in the lobby of my workplace in the early morning.

And I didn't stop him.

Now he kisses me every morning, before he leaves and before I go upstairs to my office.

My fear is still my fear.

My fear is still legitimate.

But you know what's also legitimate.

My need to be kissed before I start my day.

2 comments:

clairesmum said...

lovely.

my spouse and i as teens were severely shamed/told I was a 'slut' for public displays of affection in the throws of first love...
in college it was more ok..once we were adults, the PDA declined...and when we had a child that was the end. My spouse grew up in a household where one of the rules was to never ever draw attention to yourself...and PDAs might do that.

While the reasons are different, that need for a hug/kiss when parting is a human need for connection. I'm glad you and Joe now have that experience of connection, in spite of the presence of appropriate fear of consequences.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

A simple human need - to be hugged and kissed by your loved ones - should't be dangerous in any civilized society.

I'm glad you and Joe share a moment of affection before you both go off to your day's work.