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Keep It Clean

By Mink Stole | Posted 12/7/2005

Iím a lesbian, Iím 22 years old, and my girlfriend and I have been living together for three years. Both our families are loving and supportive, which is wonderful, but my mom and I have a running disagreement on how my girlfriend and I should behave in public. Mom thinks we should never be seen holding hands, kissing, or putting our arms around each other because people will think weíre making some sort of aggressive sociopolitical, anti-homophobic, pro-gay statement. I think sheís overreacting. I think if straight couples can hold hands in public, we should be able to, too. Weíre not trying to defy anyone or teach anybody anything, weíre just affectionate. Momís also afraid that if the wrong person were to see us touching it might put us in actual physical danger. I told her we had sense enough not to grope each at a fundamentalist Christian Sunday service, but she didnít think I was funny. How do you feel about this?

Loving Lesbian

While there are some who frown upon all PDAs, LL, whether gay or straight, for most of us itís a matter of degree. We think seeing a couple holding hands, or exchanging a brief, affectionate peck on the lips is sweet in the same way puppies and babies are sweet: We approve because it makes us feel good. However, should that affectionate public peck intensify to the kind of open-mouthed, slobbery tongue dancing that seems destined to result in actual sex, we get squeamish and offended. An arm around the shoulder is fine, but if the hand at the end of that arm is fondling a breast, that is not fine. A quick pat on the butt is probably fine, but groping is definitely a no-no. We want to know you like each other, but we donít want the details.

You mom may be overreacting a little, but gay and lesbian couples do have to be more circumspect in their behavior, in the same way that interracial couples still do, because, even though tolerance is increasing, there will always be those who are incapable of tolerating anything that doesnít conform to their rigid standards of normal and natural. While most of these people are not violent, some are, so itís a good idea to keep your hands to yourself whenever youíre in unfamiliar territory. On safe turf, though, as long as you keep your public displays firmly in the realm of affection, without crossing the line into foreplay, the only people who should get upset are those miserable souls who just canít stand to see anyone else be happy.

 

They say thereís no fool like an old fool, and Iím sure theyíre right. The problem is Iím just not sure which kind of fool I am. Iím a single woman in my late 40s, but Iím in good shape and can pass for younger. A couple of years ago a much younger (heís 35) man came to work at my firm. I was instantly attracted to him, but I was determined to keep my attitude professional. I kept this up for more than a year, until one day he arrived early for a meeting and found me crying because the son of a dear friend had been killed in a car accident. Without realizing what I was doing I let him put his arms around me to comfort me. It was perfectly chaste, but after that he began dropping by my office every day to say hello, which led to our having lunch together at least a couple times a week. People at the office started teasing us about being a couple, but we never saw each other after hours. I wanted to but never had the nerve to suggest it. Then a few weeks ago he got back together with his ex-girlfriend. Heís still friendly, but we havenít had lunch together for two weeks. So, was I a fool to let the opportunity to get closer to him pass me by, or was I a fool to think the opportunity ever existed?

Fool for Love

Thereís nothing foolish about finding a man attractive and enjoying every minute you spend with him. And thereís nothing foolish about the sadness you feel when you realize that the friendship youíve got with him, which you wished and hoped might develop into something more, starts going in the opposite direction.

There may or may not have been an opportunity to get closer, but it wasnít just up to you; there were two of you at that lunch table. Obviously he liked you. A guy doesnít spend that much time with a woman he doesnít like no matter how sympathetic he is, but if he had wanted to see you after office hours, he had as many chances as you did to make that happen. He probably feels enough attraction to you that now that heís back with his girlfriend heís less comfortable spending time with you, but that could also be because heís more aware than you think of how you feel about him. If you want to ask him why heís more distant now, thatís OK; you have a right to talk about it. But keep it light and friendly. Right now you only feel like a fool, and you donít actually want to make one of yourself.

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Think Mink archives

More from Mink Stole

Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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