As a young queer, the feeling of my partner’s hand slipping out of mine and shrinking away just as the door to a restaurant opened, or just as we rounded a corner and stepped onto a busy high street, was more familiar to me than the feeling of holding hands. There was an awkwardness to our hand holding. At the time I believed it was because I had longer legs and she had a longer torso – our hands just didn’t match up. But with time I came to understand that the awkwardness ran deeper than simple mechanics.
As this video campaign for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras illustrates so poignantly, most queers are familiar with that same awkwardness.
“When you feel like letting go,” the caption reads, “#HoldTight.”
Keeping your partner’s hand in yours when every single person you walk past in the mall shoots you a glare that says, “Do you really need to be doing that here?” is an act of defiance. In the worst case, it’s an act that could land you in danger, but often, the danger is something we’ve internalized. How dangerous is a glare, after all? Especially when, sometimes, what the glare is really saying is, “I can’t stop staring, because I’ve never seen that before.” How will we ever create a climate of acceptance if we never expose the general public to our presence?
Beyond playing a part in normalizing our love, there is a more intimate reason to #HoldTight. The shrinking hand of a partner is a tiny wound. It’s a micro rejection. It says, “You and I are somehow wrong.” It says, “I love you, but I’m also ashamed.” Years of tiny wounds can end up leaving big scars.
Being safe and being brave are sometimes at odds, but for the sake of your heart and for the sake of our cause, I hope you’ll navigate your way between the two and come out on the other side, strong and proud.
By Jo Jackson
Photo: Jenna Jacobs