Driving home yesterday evening, I was stopped at a light when two attractive young women crossed the street in front of me. They were probably in their early 20’s, and they were holding hands.
When they reached the other side of the street, the blonde leaned into her girlfriend and kissed her. It wasn’t a peck. It was amour, baby.
It took me a moment to remember the last time I held a guy’s hand in public, gay bars excluded. My Torontonian friend Jasper locked arms with me one morning while walking down Young Street. That doesn’t count. It was in Toronto, and who was going to mess with a 6-foot-seven-inch black man wearing a full-length lynx coat?
Years earlier, I was walking through Provincetown with David, my partner at the time. We had our arms around each other, and as we walked toward a restaurant, I began to make out the faces of my aunt, uncle, and three little cousins gawking at us from the window.
I suddenly stopped walking as if I had reached the edge of a cliff.
It will be a year ago this week that New York passed its landmark legislation making it legal for same-sex couples to marry. At the time, that seemed like a different kind of cliff.
None of the horrors predicted by opponents of gay marriage have come true. Opposite-sex couples continue to marry, and there have been no changes to their family bonds.
But gay couples are still growing accustomed to our new freedom. We still don’t benefit from many privileges that are available only to married opposite-sex couples.
And the new law didn’t automatically liberate gay couples. Some of us have been fortunate enough to never experience inhibitions about public intimacy; have no fears about witnesses to our expressions of affection.
But for some of us, the thought of kissing even our husbands and wives on Main Street remains unimaginable. We can have legally binding wills drawn up that convey our end-of-life desires, but the freedom to convey our desires in this life still comes in small increments.