Brianna Crysler Staff Writer
One morning this past summer, as I pulled up to the sidewalk curb to drop my girlfriend off for work, I was met with the shining sun, chirping birds, and the completely unnecessary stare of an unwelcome onlooker as I kissed her goodbye. The kiss was nothing graphic, hardly more than a peck, and certainly nothing to gawk at were we a straight couple—but we are not. Unfortunately, there are still some who deem it appropriate to stare, glare, and gesture at gay couples who are the least bit affectionate with each other in public. Even an innocent handhold or kiss on the cheek seems to warrant a death glare from the wrong person.
I do not think that anybody necessarily wants to see a couple passionately kissing in public, no matter the gender of the two people, but the small physical nuances of a relationship that are traditionally considered publicly acceptable for straight couples should be considered acceptable for gay couples as well. We deserve to live freely just as anyone else does.
Fortunately, Eastern’s campus seems to be a safe zone for unwanted glaring the majority of the time, as its many departments and staff do a great job of promoting diversity and universal acceptance. Showing any affection off campus can be a difficult choice, however, as those who do not spend four years exposed to diversity programs often do not feel the need to respect the relationships of others. More often than not, I opt to treat my girlfriend like a roommate, friend, or cousin to avoid unwanted attention at a restaurant or the grocery store. You can say times change but they do not change at the same pace in all places, so we have to adapt our behavior appropriately. Just listen to the news, L.G.B.T+ people are being physically and verbally abused everywhere. I would be lying if I said that the thought of getting harassed does not run through my mind whenever I reach for my girlfriend’s hand. I try so hard to live unapologetically visible as a lesbian, but there is no doubt the fear of receiving verbal and physical abuse is constantly there.
Sometimes I end up feeling ashamed and guilty for not having the courage to be myself and do what feels natural and right, even though I know I was just trying to avoid the disapproving glares of strangers. The hand-holding situation has always been a difficult one for us. Even when we are both feeling brave we do not maintain touch for more than a few minutes. I would love to live in a world where I would not have to make that choice someday, and could just carry out my day and relationship without having to constantly confront the opinions of others.
At the end of the day, I do not mind when I catch another L.G.B.T.Q+ couple staring at me with smiles of approval (as I myself have often done), but the angry sneers and glares really need to stop. While we are all entitled to our own opinions of what a relationship should look like, we owe each other enough respect to keep those opinions in our heads and not on our faces.