Monday, July 7, 2014


I despise public displays of affection. They are obnoxious. Too in your face. Evidence of excessive clinginess. Keep your hands in your pockets. Wave or wink if you must. Or how about a good, old-fashioned round of Patty-cake (followed, of course, by sharing some antibacterial gel)? Beyond that, yes, get a room.

And…exhale. It feels good to get that out.

Why no PDAs? Show some self-control, folks. Let all that desire build up to create something combustible once you get behind closed doors. If you can think beyond your own saccharine love bubble, realize that there are many single folks who don’t want reminders of what they’re missing. What’s more, bystanders deserve to be spared that awkwardness from suddenly having to stare at their shoelaces on those rare occasions when things get lewd. Don’t make others feel like involuntary Peeping Toms.

No public displays of affection, please. None! I am firm on this.

Even when in relationships, I’ve never had to put my partner in place. It’s just been understood. We followed the Safety Code for gay men. Stand at least six inches apart, no kissing, hand holding or hugging (unless you do a 360 check and are certain there are no witnesses, thus nixing the “public” from the pending display of affection). Any urge to get a little touchy has always been smothered by a more common sense yearning for self-preservation. Why risk a gay bashing? Refraining from PDA was never mentioned when people talked of safe sex. I assume it was a given.

But I am prepared to make an exception. Because it is convenient. When it comes to Tim, by golly, I will even participate. No apologies.

I am such a hypocrite.

Tim has a clear sense of how reserved I am. Touching—public or otherwise—has always made me uncomfortable. I’d rather be locked it a classroom and subjected to an hour of nails on the chalkboard than submit to a massage. I haven’t seen any purpose in hand holding since my parents determined I was old enough to cross the street on my own. Draping an arm over another’s shoulder just makes the recipient sweaty and gives the one offering a shoulder cramp. Blech. None of this is romantic.


Tim can be as publicly affectionate as he wishes. I welcome it. On our last date, as we walked down Denman Street in Vancouver’s gay-friendly West End, we’d stop and suddenly Tim would hug me. Long embrace. “I’m going to take you out of your comfort zone,” he whispered as I reflexively pulled back. Then I managed to relax and say, “Please do.”

He’d kiss me on the lips and I stayed in the moment. No urgent, paranoid safety checks. No worries about a swarming or a muttered, “Faggots.” Times have changed and, yes, I am changing.

I feel Tim’s strength, his warmth and his affection in these moments. As we stood beside his car at the end of another lovely evening during which the conversation never lagged, we laughed freely and I kept thinking, He gets me. (And he’s still here!). I lost my ability to speak in full sentences. “I just want…I need…I am wondering…” He mercifully interrupted me with a flash of his dazzling smile and said, “Yes. I like you.” Out of a sense of both relief and glee, I dropped to the ground, laughing.

It’s not just me. It’s not just me.

He hugged me. He kissed me. Somehow, I exuded cuteness, mixed with my natural geekiness. He even said, “Sexy.” I should really question his judgment. But I’d rather go for another hug and kiss. Who cares who else is around?!

It’s one exceptional exception.

And I just may let up for others—as long as this lasts.


oskyldig said...

I'm a strong believer in no PDAs as well but I don't have any problems with people hugging or doing a bise à la française because those are legitimate ways of greeting people. Anything more explicit than that and I feel it's inappropriate.

And yet, like you, if someone were to want to "take me out of my comfort zone," I'm not sure how I would react. I would probably turn into a ball of flame and disintegrate but until that happens there is no way to know.

Rural Gay said...

It is so true that all my standards were solidly in place until they were finally tested. Funny how real life makes one's principles suddenly irrelevant.

Gotta say I am thrilled to be taken out of my comfort zone. Tim's confidence and affection only foster the same in me. Loosening up can be a good thing.

Rick Modien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Modien said...

Oh, I was going to write that you'd sing a different tune altogether (bad cliche) if you were the one receiving the affection in public. And so I'm right.

I don't have to tell you that, when you're with someone you like, maybe even love, who cares about everyone else and what they think? And, let's face it, haven't you seen enough PDAs when you were single to entitle you to engage in some yourself, now that you've got someone? I should think so.

Glad to know things went so well on your third date with Tim. And that he's on your mind while you're away. That's a very good thing.

Rural Gay said...

Hi Rick,
I think the prolonged period of being single made me painfully aware of PDAs. Bitterness set in, but it was easier to project my frustration on the contented couples who unknowingly taunted me by being so physically connected. Their affection had nothing to do with me...just like the entire subject of happy dating.

It is so nice to finally be a hypocrite!