Put simply, I love and am in love. When one’s heart is full. When one’s day is preoccupied with another. When I am in touch with the truth that I can’t live without him; and, I go through my day missing him, I can’t help but hold my partner’s hand. It is an empowering truth for me, for us!
I also know that there are still those people among us who don’t want to see two men holding hands, or two women arm in arm. There are still those among us who rue the Supreme Court decision to legalize marriage for all people–even between same-sex persons.
I know that there are still those among us who don’t believe my love for Cesar is natural or of God.
And, I know there are still some courageous battle-scarred same sex couples that are weary or afraid to hold one another’s hand after years of fighting for this more inclusive place in today’s society? And, for all those reasons, too, I hold my partner’s hand. But, we also hold hands because we are a family, it evokes security, and it bespeaks dignity.
Cesar and I are in our mid-50s. We esteem families–of all varieties. We value children and their parents–in all ways. But, after three years of being together, and having lived into a new maturity, we will not have children, nor define our family by children.
Nonetheless, we are a family; two men deeply in love and who celebrate, with joy, the extended families we come from and share life with. Thus, I hold my partner’s hand because it signifies, for us, the love we see in our larger family as well as it symbolizes the enduring love we have as a family.
Our family, too, is blessed because we share a unique identity with the LGBT community–a beautiful reflection of the family in all of its diversity and discovery.
When Cesar and I share dinner or do a movie with members of our LGBT family there is a joyful acknowledgment and ease that comes with how we understand our identity as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and those who are questioning their sexuality.
We hold one another’s hand, and normally across the table because our affection is instinctive–as well as instructive. No, we don’t want to teach another person (it is not our place), but we do want to inspire or inform others about how these two gay men express their love; and at times, publicly.
For us right now, it is important to model something bigger than ourselves. Of course, we celebrate the law of the land in support of Marriage Equality. And, there is no question we are grateful for the countless people who both accept or respect love between same-sex persons.
But, as most of us know, there is still progress to be made as humankind comes to appreciate that, although we are all created in God’s image and likeness, it doesn’t mean we have to be the same and believe in the same, or express love as the same. How can I not help but hold my partner’s hand? It is a form of love that invites a reconsideration of how people might have typically experienced or known love.
I also hold my partner’s hand because it elicits security.
This family needs each other. Cesar and I hold on to one another figuratively and literally. For us, there is a swagger, if you will, that comes from holding one another’s hand. I promise it is not arrogance. It is not an “in your face” demonstration of any kind. It is a warm, secure feeling and proof of love that enables both of us to walk with confidence and to be secure in the company of one another.
Let me be clear, Cesar is not a security blanket for me; he is a source of strength for me, and for us, as we simply do what comes naturally for us. And, that is to show affection and to reach for one another’s hand as we run our errands, walk through the mall, or watch our favorite TV show. We are safe; we are secure enough in ourselves to be true to ourselves. Which is also why I hold my partner’s hand; it reflects our dignity.
One’s dignity is important to name and to celebrate.
Our unique DNA and personality–as well as history and possibility–reflects a personhood that is powerfully and wonderfully ours. I am a gay man. I am in love with another man. We share our lives with a variety of friends–from many walks of life—and we are so very grateful for all of them.
But, as gay men, we tend to hang out with other gay men whether they are single, dating, partnered, or married. Our dignity as gay men, in part, is highly tied to other men who are like us and, of course, the larger LGBT family for which we are privileged to belong.
Yes, I hold Cesar’s hand because our love reflects our innate dignity.
I’d like to believe it is a sign that enables everyone—each with their own dignity and beauty—to see that both affection and love have a place in our larger society as well as when we watch a football game among friends or enjoy a family graduation with a brother’s daughter.
Love always wins. And, I love even those who don’t support or understand or respect my love for another man; my partner, Cesar, in whose hand I come to know family, security, and dignity.
Photo via flickr user Dan Masa