Some of you will relate while others will be surprised to know that each and every time I reach for my partner’s hand in public, or he reaches for mine, a feeling of doubt, of fear, of apprehension creeps up inside me. Sometimes the fear is stronger than other times. Sometimes I feel brave, other times I don’t and I feel ashamed of my fear. That such a simple gesture of caring has – in the wiring of my brain – been paired with feelings of fear is difficult. It is perpetually confusing and always will be.
But we find ways to adapt and become stronger, and when we need a break from standing strong we find safe spaces to rest. I recently spent a month in Puerto Vallarta (a very gay-friendly travel destination) with my partner, which is my third visit to the city in the past two years. It might seem unimaginative that I keep vacationing in the same place, but part of the reason I enjoy it so much is because I can walk the streets holding his hand without any fear inside me or sideways looks from others.
This is a very special experience.
I’m thankful to live in Toronto where I’ve only once or twice experienced homophobia personally in over ten years. I am fortunate in that regard as I know from others’ experiences that hate still happens. While I live freely here now, old fears, the ones I learned growing up in small-town Ontario – where being gay was the most shameful possible thing – hold strong. They are persistent.
This video really resonated with me because it reminds me that I’m not alone when it comes to feeling afraid. It highlights the importance of how simply holding hands in public can be a gesture of strength and solidarity with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Credit: ANZ Australia