Public Displays of Affection

Public displays of affection (in moderation) could possibly, albeit slowly positively affect the perception of LGBT people throughout the world. I mean, the only reason people are so judgemental is because it doesn’t fit their societal idea of normal. Imagine growing up where seeing two girls or two guys kiss each other is just as common place as having the straight romantic concept thrust in your face every day?

You don’t even have to go as far as to say kissing. It could be as simple as not feeling ashamed on sharing that long lingering look, a gentle squeeze of the hand, holding hands, one of those hugs that are slightly longer and warmer than when it’s shared with someone you love. Why should it matter where you are, why should you have to wait until your behind closed doors to show your love and affection for someone. There’s nothing inappropriate or pornographic about that kind of affection.

When I had just come out, I came stomping out of the closet with gusto yet I still had firm ideas about when it was and wasn’t acceptable to be open about my sexuality. I used to think it was important that I keep it to myself unless I was out with people who I deemed as ‘old enough’ to have grasped the concept of homosexuality. Now, I actually think that it can’t hurt to have younger children growing up more aware that love isn’t exclusively about a man and a woman. But like I say, moderation… vulgarity isn’t my thing at all.

Plus I’m sure anyone can tell you how amazing it feels to be loved. It’s not a feeling you switch on and off. I guess I’m quite a tactile person, I like to express how I feel with the subtle act of sharing these moments with someone I love. Whether we’re at home snuggled up on the sofa or walking down the street in the cold autumn breeze huddled up together. I like to be the cheeky one that will steal a kiss when the moment takes me and I certainly would never feel embarrassed for looking at you like a blind man seeing the sun for the first time.

With Megan I had finally found someone on the same page as me. I was astonished. It was so far from anything I had experienced before. Like I said before, when I first came out I was a lot more reserved, so with Katy I was hesitant. By the time I had decided to be all ‘out and proud’ it was too late. With Lara it was never really like that, we were outwardly ‘just good friends’ the kind of couple that people in the know would spot a mile off but otherwise would be mistaken for just good friends, or worse sisters.

Life was rosy, for a hopeless romantic (which I have long come to realise I will always be) I couldn’t have imagined life got any better. My girlfriend Megan, was without a doubt the most romantic soul, I mean she managed to surprise me with a late night picnic under the stars… It upped the ante somewhat and our dates just got better and better.

I cooked, for anyone that knows me, that’s a big deal. It was a moderate success, I’m sure it was the thought that counted. I think if I remember rightly, it was my second attempt at cooking as the first ended up in the bin. There was candlelight and music. We were still enjoying dating months into our honeymoon period and after our seaside retreat on the August bank holiday.

We spent a day out in early September at Longleat Safari Park, it’s somewhere that we had both been countless times before as it was so close to our home in Somerset. We’d go again and again as we both enjoyed taking photos of the animals since they weren’t behind bars. Particularly enjoying the part where you can get out and feed the giraffes. Getting randomly photo-bombed by a zebra, chasing each other through a gigantic maze and laughing at me try not to freak out in the butterfly enclosure even when I had one stuck on my jeans. Butterflies might be beautiful creatures but I still don’t like them flying at me.

We both treasured the moments we got to spend together. We bought keepsakes or pocketed little scraps of things to build a trove of memories. Before long I found that I had managed to keep silly things like the movie ticket stubs from the first time we went to the cinema together, the receipt from our first dinner-date, a souvenir key-chain from our trip to Longleat, all the little love notes that had been tied to the picnic lights.

Because I managed to keep these little tokens those times became easiest to remember. However what really astonished me was how much Megan loved to express her affection towards me. Whenever we walked anywhere together we’d either be holding hands or arm in arm. Megan didn’t bat an eyelid about long lingering embraces, stealing a kiss or two. There was even one time she left me completely speechless by planting one hell of a kiss on me in the middle of Hammersmith tube station.

Christ, if I wasn’t in love before I was a goner by that point. Finally finding someone as expressive as me, as open and attentive, and puke-inducingly soppy was a revelation. I never wanted it to end. Perhaps surprisingly we never got any crap for it either. I never once heard anyone give us stick about being gay, I don’t even remember anyone looking at us funny. We were just a young couple happy and in love.

Perhaps one time that illustrated just how positive everyone around us seemed to be was our night on the London Eye when a woman spotted us attempting to take a selfie as we shared a kiss who offered to take the picture for us. Even among our friends I was still astonished by her. There was no denying we were a couple very much smitten, I heard from a friend or two that they had never seen me like that with anyone before, so ridiculously happy.

Happiness was a theme of my life in those days. I had just secured a new position at work and would be starting a new role within the month that came with a bit of a pay rise. My career in general was on the up ever since moving to London. I had made some amazing friends, had the most awesome housemates that I could stay up half the night chatting and drinking with. I had Megan, and although I only got to see her at the weekends it was one of those times when you just couldn’t fault life.

For Megan, things were a little more turbulent. There were days when her health wasn’t great, there were days when she hated her work, she missed the independence of living by herself after moving back home with her parents. I was often told that when I was home with her, or when she was here in London with me that she was happy. That doesn’t mean that without me it was like never-ending darkness, just that it was harder for her to focus on the positives in her life.

So eventually over time Megan started to find the separation harder and harder. Do you know what I found hard? Hearing the woman I loved in tears on the phone because she hated being away from me. I’m not ashamed to say that I was worried for us, I didn’t know how long Megan would put up with a long distance relationship when her life was so turbulent. After a while we started to talk about ways and means of finding a way to be together more permanently.

It was all this and more that started us thinking about each other as the one, the real deal, something for keeps. Any time we had a first anything, we’d talk excitedly with each other about it being our last first ‘whatever’ and it was a great feeling. I never wanted it to end.

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