Can I hold a girl’s hand in public? Shortly after coming out, one of the main things I worried about was whether or not I could have a girlfriend, and whether or not people could know if we were a couple, and whether or not I could show that kind of affection in public. It seems like such a small thing but I wasn’t sure if I could hold another girl’s hand in public. Would people look? Would people comment on it or call us names? Would I draw attention to myself? Would people start looking at me differently?
A little while after coming out, I went on a date with a girl that I’d met online, but we happened to live in the same place; it was our hometown. We had decided to meet up in the centre of the city, which was a place that many acquaintances and friends passed on a daily basis. The cafe where we sat down was one of the most popular ones in the area and I was convinced that I would run into an acquaintance and this worried me.
What if one of my friends or acquaintances saw me here with another girl. I mean, we could have just been friends too, right? Two girls drinking a drink in a cafe, that’s what friends do. But what if this acquaintance or friend knew that this girl was someone I hadn’t met before? And what if they could see that she was gay since her hair was kind of short and she had more of the typical gay stereotype look about her. And what if they, therefore, knew that we were on a date? Did that matter?
Once we sat down in the cafe and talked I started to relax a little bit. At first, my eyes were darting around the area, scanning for people that I might know, but after a while, I simply looked at her and felt engaged in our conversation. She was really nice, although I can’t quite remember our conversation. After a while, we got up and about three meters outside of the cafe she took my hand in hers. It felt as if time stopped for a second. I could see both of our silhouettes from above. They were holding hands, and all the other people that were around turned into battleships, ready to shoot us, the enemy ship.
Then a bicyclist passed. She didn’t look back. She seemed blissfully unaware that she had just bicycled past two girls that were holding hands. Yet, I couldn’t help but want to walk away from here as fast as we could. I’d started sweating and could just about stop the urge to look back every second, to see who was looking at us. I felt incredibly relieved when we reached our next destination and her hand slipped out of mine.
It took me a while to feel confident enough to hold a girls hand in public. One of my friends started holding my hand in public at some point, and all the while we did, a voice in my head said: ‘You might think we are a couple, but we are not. Ha. Jokes on you.’ but then gradually over time it started changing into: ‘I’m holding a girls hand, aren’t you jealous? I’m holding a girl’s hand, I feel great because I’m able to love and I’m holding a girl’s hand!!’
I suppose I worried a lot at first because it somehow felt wrong to hold another girl’s hand or to show affection for the same gender in public. It takes some time to completely accept yourself and to realise and to stand up to what apparently is such a strong opinion put on us by society- that being gay is not okay, and showing it to the world is even worse. But guess what? It is okay, and I am completely normal. Loving someone is completely normal and holding someone’s hand in public is completely normal too. If you are struggling with this as well, don’t worry. Don’t beat yourself up over it and take it slowly. You’ll get there and it will become normal because you’ll learn to love your sexuality and yourself and then eventually it’ll start feeling amazing to hold someone else’s hand in public. (Apart from the sweatiness of the occasion, of course, haha).
This is the second post in a series of ‘Coming Out Struggles’
I will publish a new post in this series every third week on Monday.
6 August – Can I still shower with my football team?
27 August – Can I hold a girl’s hand in public?
17 September – Yet to come
8 October – Yet to come
29 October – Yet to come
Related post: Am I a Lesbian?