Hand Holding

On Sunday John and I took his brother Ben to eat sushi for his birthday. As we drove past the corner of Michigan and Mass Ave. I noticed a couple walking down the street holding hands. Probably in their 20s, khaki shorts and t-shirts–sweet, nothing remarkable about them really. It wasn’t until we’d almost passed them that I realized the couple was two guys.

I shouted, “Hey, did you see that? Those two guys were holding hands!!” in a fast, high-pitched squeal like tires screeching to a halt. John and Ben turned to look and then went back to talking about whatever it was they were discussing, apparantely unimpressed that they were watching what I feel sure was a little piece of Indianapolis history in the making.

Their lack of interest didn’t keep me from talking to myself about how proud I was of those guys. Indy doesn’t really have a gayborhood so it was basically like they were walking down Main Street anywhere. For the benefit of my readers who are not gay, that is risky business even in 2007. I read stories all the time about couples who get jumped in cities larger than Indy.

I detest double standards for gay couples, but John and I have frequently lived by them out of fear. Having to ask yourself, “is holding John’s hand worth the stares, stitches and insurance premium” sort of drains the joy from any spontaneous act of affection. Unless you’re drunk. Once I shouted “I love you” at John at a very loud sports bar in West Lafayette popular with Boilermaker fans and players. I couldn’t figure out why his only response was to silently let the color rush from his face. Like any normal slightly buzzed southern boy I took it personally. Having to be on your guard constantly, even when you aren’t conscious of it because it is so second nature, wreaks silent havoc on your psyche. Just ask John. This is why Rosie O’Donnell’s gay family vacations are so poplular–nobody on that boat has to worry about being judged or afraid.

I hope those guys enjoyed their walk. And I hope they, like John and Ben, would be surprised by how surprised I was.

When all couples like the one I saw can be who they are without having to bury their identity beneath a straight facade I suspect we won’t end up with closeted “Family Values” senators soliciting cops in airport bathrooms or park toilets or gunning for anonymous sex via the internet while their wives sit at home. Based on what I saw Sunday, the future may be a little brighter for the younger generation.

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8 Comments on “Hand Holding”


  1. it’s not funny, but i so laughed out loud at your comment “insurance premiums”.
    And how wonderful of you to still appreciate every little step a couple makes: regardles 🙂


  2. i meant it’s not funny in the context you used it and to why you HAVE to think about it….

  3. Susan Says:

    I laughed about the “I LOVE YOU” at the sports bar because if I shouted the same thing to my hubby at the same type place…he’s face would go ghostly white. Not because I love him but because I shouted.
    So it not all a gay thing…feel good about that. =)
    I’m all for hand-holding in public gay or not.

  4. Troy Says:

    Thanks Susan. Yeah, funny how my outside voice becomes my inside voice after a few drinks. John is kind of shy, too. Too bad he hooked up with me! (I shouted that last sentence.)

  5. Kristen Says:

    The West Lafayette story made me smile because, unless I’m mistaken, that is the first weekend we met you. We instantly fell in love. Can’t wait until you and John come and hold hands walking through our neighborhood again. (You won’t be alone 🙂

  6. Troy Says:

    You’re right Kristen. And it was your wedding weekend! Can I blame my behavior on Jason? I will add that while John was all about keeping me hushed up on Friday night, Saturday night HE was the one buzzing and talking me into slow dancing at your very Catholic reception in Delphi.

    We really need to come see you guys. Soon I hope.

  7. Marcie Says:

    I cannot ever remember where you are from, but I think it is mississippi right?? OK…well, my point. I found this Prudie article hilarious and reminded me of something you would say about being gay in Mississippi (if that is indeed where you are from). It’s kind of long for a comment but I don’t have your email.

    Dear Prudie,
    I’m 38 years old and happily married for 13 years. My wife and I are the biggest wage earners in our extended families, and are often looked upon for assistance, which we sometimes give (and frequently don’t). Periodically, my wife and I argue about all these familial entanglements, but it’s mostly a way to let off steam. Recently, my mother left her husband of many years after discovering a series of his bisexual affairs. This is in the middle of Oklahoma! We moved my mother to the large Southern city where we live. We set her up in her own apartment because my wife (rightfully) didn’t want another human in our already crowded house. These additional expenses really put a pinch on our savings plans. Money that should be going into a 401K and IRA are going into her rent and utilities. Not to mention that trip to Europe we always wanted. My wife is upset about the money. I’m not happy about it, either, but this is my mother we’re talking about.

    —Dutiful Son & Husband

    Dear Dutiful,
    Your mother needs a divorce lawyer, pronto. I assume she and her longtime husband accumulated many joint assets, probably including a house. Dividing these up, and finding out what she’s entitled to, should go a long way toward easing your economic burden. It is wonderful you want to help your mother, but you have to do so in a way that doesn’t rob you of your future security or your pleasure in middle age. And by the way, being from Oklahoma is no guarantee of heterosexuality. As Ado Annie says in Oklahoma, “Sometimes there seems like times that men ain’t got no need for women.” (It was THIS line that made me LOL and think of YOU!!)

    —Prudie

    Hope all is well ::HUGS::

  8. Citizen D Says:

    Ummm…wow. I’d never thought about how it must feel to fear publicly displaying an appropriate amount of affection for the person you love. Thanks for the perspective.

    That said, I must say that the sports bar story made me smile as well. I agree with Susan that many guys in that setting aren’t comfortable displaying any affection.


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