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Queeries: Too affectionate at the mall?

By | 2010-11-25T09:00:00-05:00 November 25th, 2010|Entertainment|

By Steven Petrow

Q: Do you think there was anything improper about the lesbian couple I read about recently who held hands in a public mall, kissed each other lightly, and then found themselves asked by a security officer to leave the premises?

A: I read about this story too, and no, they weren’t doing anything wrong. I actually had a difficult time believing the entire scenario: Just as they were being sweet with each other, the guard puts a halt to their busses, and orders them to leave. So, too, did her supervisor, even when the couple pointed out that they were being singled out; of course, straight couples cuddle in public all the time without any sort of disruption.
The rules about showing affection publicly are the same for gay men and lesbians as they are for straight people: Handholding, eye gazing and light kissing are perfectly fine in public; groping, tongue kissing and touching below the waist are not. If there are any distinctions to be made, they’re not based on sexual orientation, but according to venue or situation. What you do in a nightclub or bar is different than at a family dinner or – the mall.
But the next chapter is also key: Management at the mall was quick to apologize, if only because of the tremendous Facebook outcry, which was obviously bad for business. In the apology, also on Facebook, the PR team insisted that its mall is a “friendly shopping center that welcomes the entire community,” concluding with this statement: “(We’re) committed to maintaining an open and welcoming environment for everyone.”
All’s well that ends well? Yes, in this case. But if this incident had not occurred in such a progressive city – which has a lot of disposable LGBT money that can be spent elsewhere – it’s easy to imagine a different outcome. Either way, it’s worth remembering that LGBT people exercise their political not only at the ballot box, but also in the dollars and cents we spend every day.

Gay PDA at the holiday office party

Q: Even though I’m completely out at my office, I always turn heads when I dance with a gent at the company bash. Sometimes there’s even some giggling from my coworkers. What tips do you have when it comes to attending a workplace holiday party with a partner or date?

A: First, I’d make sure that your date is cool about being part of your continuing coming out journey. There’s a public dimension to attending a work function as a couple and not everyone is comfortable with the kind of attention a same-sex couple may attract. Assuming the answer’s yes, also keep in mind that it’s one thing for your straight coworkers to know that you’re gay; it’s another to see you slow dance, tete a tete, with your same-sex sweetie.
But honestly, that’s their problem, not yours. As long as you keep your PDA in check –which is a good idea for anyone at a work function, you’re on the right side of the line. And the more times you and other gay colleagues take to the dance floor, the less novel and giggle-producing such moments will be. In fact, if you have other lesbian or gay colleagues lean on them to join you.
One final note: In most states, you can be fired simply for being gay or lesbian. Anyone considering coming out at a workplace holiday bash is wise to make sure that yours is a gay-friendly company and that you’re not putting your livelihood at risk by outing yourself by bringing a same-sex date.

Inviting a son’s boyfriend over for the holidays

Q: How serious should my son and his boyfriend be before we include the newcomer in our holiday celebrations?

A: Do the same as you would with your straight kids and their boyfriends or girlfriends – or follow this rule if you have none: When it seems as though the couple is serious and becoming part of your family, be proactive and extend an invitation for two. On the other hand, the entire responsibility for this important holiday detail shouldn’t rest with you. Your son could make your job easier by calling or sending an e-mail saying something like, “Hey, Mom, I’m really hoping that James can join us in our family celebration this year.” Bingo! Asking to bring home your significant other is a sign that the relationship is getting serious. It doesn’t sound like it happened that way with you, but never mind. If you need to know, go ahead and ask. If you both like the idea of the boyfriend joining in, then you’re on to your next challenge: whether to include the boyfriend on your holiday shopping list. The answer is yes – don’t get him anything too pricey, but do pick up a small gift.

Kiss-ins?

Q: I read recently that when the pope was visiting Spain – denouncing gay marriage – a large contingent of LGBT people staged a kiss-in. What do you think of this behavior? Is it a free-for-all or are there any “rules”?

A: I think it is wrong for the pontiff to condemn same-sex marriage. Is that the behavior you are asking about? As for kiss-ins, they are a well-honed political tactic in the LGBT rights movement that, while intended to disrupt the status quo, are not aimed at curbing free speech or breaking any laws. Kiss-ins rank high, along with other forms of civil disobedience and political protest, as a means of affecting social change – or simply to draw attention to an issue.
But good behavior at a kiss-in also includes these basic rules:
* You’re there for a reason: The reason is not to hook-up; you’re making a political statement.
* Follow the leader: Break only one rule at a time. Don’t go rogue on your comrades (i.e. no name-calling, clashing with police).
* Be clean and kissable: Bring your breath mints; you may be kissing a lot of strangers. Don’t hog the best kissers. If everyone else is moving on to a new partner, it’s time to let go.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.