Thursday, June 16, 2016

"My Fears Are Not Your Fears."

We're friends. And you know me as well as anyone does. We have done it all together. We have laughed, partied, cried, fought, and loved. We are as close as two people can be. Right?

Not quite.

Yes, we're friends. We're as close as any two brothers. But we are not the same. Our worlds are not the same. And my fears are not your fears.

When you and your wife are together in public, you reach for each other without a thought. You take her hand in yours and you stroll together through the mall, or downtown, or walking into a bar or club. Your physical connection is automatic and obvious.

When I walk in public with my husband, though, it's a very different scenario. Yes, I want to reach for him. And yes, to us, it feels just as natural and obvious and comfortable.

But we're a gay couple. And that means that before I can take his hand, I have to scan my environment for potential threats. I have to do a risk assessment to decide if it's safe for two men to walk arm-in-arm.

"Who cares what people think?"

That's a good question, and in a perfect world, I wouldn't care about the opinions of random strangers.

But this isn't a perfect world. This is a world where passers-by on the street accost gay men. This is a world where a gay couple minding their own business walking home can be savagely beaten by otherwise normal looking people.

When you go out, you don't worry that some guy will notice you are heterosexual and decide to attack you for that. You don't have to evaluate your surroundings before reaching over to kiss your loved one. You don't have to fear inciting an attack from someone just because you held your loved one's hand.

You fear being robbed. Or raped. So do I. But I also worry that someone will be enraged just because I exist and have the nerve to acknowledge my husband.

That's why my fears are not your fears. Because you don't live in a world where showing affection to your husband or wife could mean being attacked and beaten.

You are a straight ally and I love and appreciate you for that. You are amazing. But please understand that being an ally does not mean the same fall-out as me being gay.  There is a difference, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could understand that.

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