[CN: Homophobia, Slurs, Violence]
This morning in his Washington Post column, Steven Petrow writes about a same-sex couple who was recently kicked out of a bar for kissing. According to reports, after Andrew Deras gave his partner Dustin Baker a “very minor” kiss on the lips in a bar, the bar owner approached the couple and told them they were “making people feel uncomfortable.” This incident, Petrow writes, reminds us of our society’s double standards on PDA:
You might not realize it, but in-your-face displays of heterosexuality are everywhere — the family photo on a desk, the man and woman holding hands on the beach, or an opposite-sex couple kissing in a bar. No one accuses these couples of “flaunting” their sexuality, but make it two men or two women in the photo holding hands or smooching, then we’ve crossed the line. That’s the double standard.
I live in a rural area in Maryland, and while I love the area, it’s not the safest place to be openly queer. When it comes to LGBTQ acceptance, the general vibe is “I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have to see it.” Some may see it as a nice compromise, but I think it’s only a kinder, gentler version of homophobia.
First, it says that the love between people of the same gender isn’t as valid as the love between people of different genders. When I first came out as bisexual and started dating my first boyfriend, I looked at all the love stories portrayed in the media. Nearly every couple in every movie, TV show, book, and commercial was straight. I thought, “Where are all the couples that look like my boyfriend and I? Are they trying to say the love we have for each other isn’t real?” Our relationship, although it only lasted nine months, felt more real than any relationship I had with a woman, so why couldn’t I be open about it? Why couldn’t I hold my boyfriend’s hand in public? Why couldn’t we kiss without worrying about who was watching?
It’s because we were afraid. We were afraid that someone would either yell out “Faggots!” or worse, hurt us. In fact, one time we were kissing in my car in a parking lot, and I saw a man in a truck a few parking spaces over look in our direction. I didn’t let my boyfriend know he was looking, but I kept looking towards him to make sure he wasn’t about to get out of his truck. He eventually drove off when another person got into his truck, but that was one of the scariest moments of my life. Despite having supportive friends and family, I remembered that I was “the other.”
This is why I get so mad when straight people say, “I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have to see it.” They think they’re being polite, but what they are really doing is further invalidating me. I’m not saying they need to see me make love in order to accept me (trust me, nobody wants to see that!), but being seen as “the other” not only hurts my feelings—it makes me feel unsafe.
Despite marriage equality in all fifty states, some places in America are still not safe for queer people. This is why marriage equality is not enough; society needs to change its attitudes, and one such attitude is the “I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have to see it” attitude. Not only does it say my love for another man isn’t real love; it says there’s something wrong with me. Fuck that!