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Self-censorship

(Via feministe 2008-05-05.)

From a long post by PortlyDyke at Shakesville on the closet and PDAs (I mean Public Displays of Affection, not Private Defense Associations):

When ABC news did their second social experiment about Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) by having a gay male couple and a lesbian couple kiss and cuddle in public (the first experiment used straight couples), the reactions were varied.

There was the woman who called the cops:

Operator: Birmingham Police operator 9283

Caller: We have a couple of men sitting out on the bench that have been kissing and drooling all over each other for the past hour or so. It’s not against the law, right?

Operator: Not to the best of my knowledge it’s not.

Caller: So there’s no complaint I could make or have?

Operator: I imagine you could complain if you like ma’am. We can always send an officer down there.

And they did . . . . The officer told our couple that the police dispatch received a call because the two of them were making out.

Just don’t do that in public, he told them before leaving the scene.

There was the woman who said:

I would actually want our kids to grow up in a place where they would see various types of people engaging in behaviors that [are] loving.

And then there were the people who took a whole different think of teh childrenz! tack:

I don’t really find it inappropriate, especially during the day when schoolchildren aren’t running around. They might get confused and want an answer for what’s going on, bystander Mary-Kate told us. The majority of the people who spoke about children seemed to echo Mary-Kate’s feelings.

Which means, basically, these folks are fine with Gay PDA — as long as they don’t have to face the uncomfortable, icky business of explaining to their children that not everybody on earth is like mommy and daddy.

. . .

I doubt that most straight, cisgendered people think about, or notice, how frequently they touch their partner in public in ways that are not necessarily sexual (in addition to kissing, cuddling, and the odd bum-squeeze) — ie. holding hands, walking with an arm around the waist, smoothing the other’s hair back out of their eyes — nor do I think that most straight, cisgendered people are probably aware of the fact that when I touch my partner in public, it’s nearly always a considered act.

I don’t obsess about this — as in — it doesn’t eat up my days and nights — and I’m probably about as out as a queer can be in this country — but every single time I take my partner’s hand on the street, or toss my arm over her shoulder or around her waist, hug her goodbye or hello, I do a little, tiny security sweep.

. . .

This friend is the sister I never had. I loved her (and love her still) dearly, and her inability to see how the Measure 8 (which was passed that year) was likely to affect me and my family was incredibly painful to me. I remember weeping in her living room as I tried to explain something that was, to her, completely invisible. I talked to her about how scary it had been to come out publicly after having led a fairly comfortable life as a closeted queer, and she just didn’t seem to get why it should be a big deal at all.

So, I issued her and her husband a challenge (and I’ll issue the same challenge to any straight coupled allies here who want to raise their awareness of LBGTQ issues):

Spend an entire week pretending that you’re not a couple. Don’t write a check from a joint bank account. Hide all the photographs in your home and office which would identify you as a couple. Take off your wedding rings. Touch each other, and talk to each other, in public, in ways that could only be interpreted as you being friends. Refer to yourself only in the singular I, never in the we. When you go to work on Monday, if you spent time together on the weekend, include only information which would indicate that you went somewhere with a friend, rather than your life-mate. If someone comes to stay with you, sleep in separate beds. Go intentionally into the closet as a couple. For a week.

They took my challenge.

They lasted exactly three days.

My friend returned to me in tears on day four and said: I’m sorry. I had no idea what it is like for you.

— PortlyDyke @ Shakesville (2008-04-29): Take My Arm, My Love

Read the whole thing. It’s a simple point, but it’s important, and powerful, and beautiful.

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Anticopyright. This was written in 2008 by Rad Geek. Feel free to reprint if you like it. This machine kills intellectual monopolists.