Privilege and PDAs

There has been an unexpected consequence with my husband’s transition. My husband and I have always had different levels of acceptance of public displays of affection. I have always been very touchy feely. I love holding his hand, hugging him in public, holding him, etc. I do have to say I haven’t been about heavy kissing/fondling in public for many years, but the rest of it is something I have always had a high drive. I like to constantly reassure him, hold him, hug him, just touch him.

He has always been the opposite. He never really liked a lot of public displays of affection (except with the insertion of alcohol). He has always tolerated the pdas and sometimes initiates them (but much more rarely). When we were younger this did cause some conflict, but we have worked it out so I am not too pushy, and he was a bit more accepting. Also to reiterate it when I mean pushy, I mean holding hands or hugging him.

It has been like this for over twenty years, at least until the transition. Since the transition Jello hasn’t been very responsive at all to public displays of affection unless in a controlled environment, and it has diminished over the transition. I was confused at first, “why would anything change?” I would think to myself. I noticed that he didn’t want to hold my hand in areas we weren’t familiar, especially with lots of people hanging around. I was so confused, and honestly I was hurt a little bit. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to “admit” he was with me.

My husband was kind about it though and explained to me why it bothered him more. He had a history of being attacked when he was younger for similar displays. He explained the danger he faced before we got together when he (at the time appearing as a woman) would date women and be attacked by homophobic assholes. I listened to him, and I can logically understand his worry.

I guess this is where my privilege stands out is that I am a very tall and broad guy and never felt fear about anyone physically. It never even dawned on me to worry about someone else objecting to being married to another guy. 

I do admit that at first I was unhappy, and a bit resentful. It hurt that Jello didn’t want to hold hands, or hug in public areas. Then I guess I grew up a little over a few days when I realized it wasn’t me, it was about the fact that Jello is a small guy and he had a history of getting attacked when he showed any sort of same sex or alternative lifestyle. Sometimes it is hard to step out of your own point of view and take into account other people’s worries.

I realized after thinking about it, that this is also another example of my up until now the heterosexual privilege, which I hadn’t realized I had lived with until it was gone. I am not used to living an alternative lifestyle (that is obvious in the public). It honestly doesn’t bother me, and it doesn’t help the fact that I like conflict and aggression. I have no problem engaging with someone who has an issue with my lifestyle. However this puts unnecessary pressure on Jello. He hates conflict, and with his medical issues it can prove bad to give him too much anxiety. I just need to let it go. I don’t want to make his life more difficult, and I like him happy so I need to work with it.

I don’t have an answer for this, or really any sort of resolution at the moment. I just thought I would post about it. It helps to talk it out here, although I have started to ramble due to no sleep so I will cut it here. I will revisit this later.

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6 Responses to Privilege and PDAs

  1. janitorqueer says:

    Yeah, this is a complex area! It might be possible to pursue public displays of affection more and more over time… in some contexts, times have changed! I too have been strongly wary about it because of how I’ve felt in the past, and because of reactions I have gotten.

    But it can be sooo empowering when I hold hands with my partner and nothing ends up happening. Makes me feel like trying it again, and being a little more visible, and then upping the ante a little more. Each positive (or at least neutral) experience gives me a little more courage. But it’s definitely going outside of my comfort zone!

    • I can definitely understand your worry. I also know I need to be a little more cautious, last thing I want to do is get caught in something that could have easily been avoided.

  2. jello says:

    You missed one reason I avoid PDA in some areas. It’s because I don’t want to have either of us get into a fight. You’re a giant viking of a man, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to fight your way through every bigot out there. It’s in part because I have been through this before, and I want to protect you from the shit that does happen. My background does include being tree’d by rednecks with bats, and nobody saw that coming, either.

    Also, if a giant fracas did ensue, and let’s face it, you don’t start little tussles. The cops will most likely come, and then there is the non-zero chance the cop will be a bigot, and will fuck with us further. I think we need less “reckless endangerment” and “Walmart psycho lady” incidents in our lives at the moment.

  3. underfrog says:

    Like Jello, before my transition I was in relationships with women and mostly perceived as a woman. My ex-girlfriend and I were only directly harassed/attacked once, in the very, very liberal city where we lived — and it was when some guys driving by thought I was a gay man (I had short hair and was skipping down the sidewalk). They started throwing things out of the car, like pop bottles, and slowed down as if to stop and get out, yelling “hey faggot!”. Then the guy in the passenger seat looked at me, yelled, “Never mind, it’s a dyke!” and they drove off. They didn’t know how right they were the first time – because I did end up transitioning and now identify as a gay man. We called the police, and they were super nice, because of where we lived, and wanted a license plate number (which we didn’t capture), but it was clear that if those guys had had any kind of weapons, sticks, bricks, whatever, the police would not have been able to do anything until after the fact. And even though this was two years before my transition even started, this was my introduction to the dangers of being seen as a gay man in the world. Jello’s right – it is (unfortunately) dangerous, and often, there’s really no way to completely protect yourself completely. But fear – and the shame spawned by it – can also be toxic and dangerous too (in a different way), so I think it’s important to find a way to strike a balance between them.

  4. androguyandcat says:

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