We often post pictures of ourselves holding hands in public places, walking down streets smiling, with a bunch of people around who could seemingly care less. However, that's not always the case when we're at home.
We live in a small town in Southeast Tennessee and, as one can imagine, it's not the most liberal of places. Truth be told, we don’t regularly hold hands or show much affection when we go out to eat or go grocery shopping, etc. We know if we were to hold hands in public that it would be met with curious looks; maybe looks of disgust or disapproval. It's just not as accepted here. But should that be a reason for us not to show PDA? Are we only contributing to the problem by not trying to normalize same-sex couples showing affection in the south? These are some of the questions we wrestle with.
We've mentioned this before, but PJ isn't very affectionate. PJ's family wasn't very affectionate growing up and it's just how he's always been, so it would be very out of the ordinary for us to all of the sudden start holding hands while out in public. Thomas always jokes that he can feel PJ hold his breath when he hugs him unexpectedly, but it's true. It's just not something he's always comfortable with (though he does show affection in other ways). In a similar vein, Thomas doesn't always feel comfortable holding hands in public places, either. It's something that he sometimes second-guesses when we're out together in a new city, but we're grateful we have each other to help ease the anxiety that comes with doing something out of your comfort zone. It's taken time, and we're still working on it every day, but we're getting to a place where we're both satisfied. Marriage is work, people! Don't believe anyone that tells you differently.
We’ve loved getting to travel a lot this summer to new, unfamiliar places, where two men holding hands in public isn’t frowned upon and where, truthfully, most people don’t really notice or care. It’s been refreshing and exciting and exhilarating and it feels like we’re just starting out dating again when we walk around these new cities holding each other and maybe stealing a kiss or two. It’s one of the perks of living in a bigger, more liberal city that we just don’t get living in a small, southern town. It makes traveling all the more fun when you have little things like that to look forward to. We hope one day it gets to a point where it’s normal and safe for a married, homosexual couple to walk down the streets holding hands without fear of experiencing homophobia or hate. We think it will get there, and we think it’ll be soon.