(10) I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
We went, last month, to a truly great 60th birthday party.
We went, last month, to a truly great 60th birthday party. Great, because the birthday girl and her wife are two of our favourite people to be with (and that thought was echoed around the tables of their family and friends); great because it was all about the dancing (The invitation stated Dance Me Into My Next Decade); and great because we felt free to show, without thinking of anybody noticing, that we are a couple.
When I was in a heterosexual relationship, I held hands.
Sorry Is. I would like to hold hands with you but I also have difficulty doing that. You ask how I can share a picture of us kissing on facebook, but not hold your hand in public. I am working on it.
It is easy to do a lot of things on social media. If you make a mistake and people don't like it, you can move on without fully feeling it. (Unless you are Stephen Fry. I feel for Stephen Fry, who I also love a little. He goes through his tweets, his fanmail, and it doesn't matter how many love letters there are to him, it is the criticisms he feels, and they seem to build into an unsurmountable mass, making him forget about the mountains of adoration and praise.) On social media, I can say a comment, reword it, edit it and fix it until it is ready, until it is saying what I want it to say. With real words, in real time, they don't always come out right. And you feel that they are out there, in an order you can't rearrange. Real words can do real damage.
You can say things on social media and you can also portray things on social media far more easily than out and about on the High Street. It is easy for the reader to stop reading if they don't like it, to not click if they don't want to. It is easy for people to scan over a picture, ignore it, forget about it, without really taking it in. In real life, in real time, they can see you coming, they take it in, they are momentarily part of it in some way, part of your reality of walking together, laughing together, holding hands. They have to think about it in some way.
I am sorry, Is, that I feel comfortable holding your hand only in woods, in water, behind trees, beneath the surface. I have this feeling that I don't want people to disapprove and yet I am happy to have them disapprove about other things. I am a happy rebel when it comes to walking through INTERDIT signs on the Beziers Canal Locks. I am a happy rebel when I wear my docs under my ball gown. I write lighthearted 'anti' songs - anti-guns, anti-Trump, anti-horrible statements. My hair rebels all by itself. But this imagined disapproval from others of our hand holding - I am not sure where that stems from, or when I will get over it.
When we walk along the canal, I look behind me first and you know I am going to kiss you. I am sorry that I have to look first. And also perplexed. I am not embarrassed of you, not ashamed that you are my girlfriend, and yet this is how it would seem. I am proud to walk beside you in our lives together. I love you and it should not feel difficult to show outside our home, our family and our friends. (I do wonder sometimes is it because it is Linlithgow? Linlithgow seems entirely heterosexual. It also seems quite judgemental. I am basing that purely on the church hall badminton group that I went to eight times.)
What the fuck am I afraid of?
I wanna hold your hand, said The Beatles and then Petula and Al Green and at least a hundred others. Hold my hand, my hand, my hand, says The Fray. Hold my hand and we're half way there, say Tony and Maria in Westside Story and then later Tom Waits (I LOVE Tom Waits). Take my hand, we're living on a prayer, Jon Bon Jovi. Darlin' hold my hand, Jess Glynne. Uh-uh-uh-uh-ah. Uh-uh-uh-uh-ah. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Everybody is doing it.
On two occasions OUT in the last two years, I have felt ok to hold hands with Is in front of strangers . Both left me feeling free, exuberant, and a little euphoric. One was in Edinburgh, let's say under the influence of my brother. We marched up from Waverley Station, along Market Street, up the 124 steps (News Steps) to St Giles' Street, along the Royal Mile to Camera Obscura, almost defiantly, delightedly so, in fancy frock and docs and velvet suit with Mike and Elsa. We may even have skipped on the way home. The second time was at Chrissie's 60th birthday party. (It was here that I also found out a bit more about different categories of lesbians). We went to the pre-dance taster lesson (Chrissie and Elaine are very involved in the Blues Dance Scene, going to weekend workshops whenever they can. This taster was a modern jive basic moves session, apparently a mix of Salsa and Swing). We danced the English ceilidh dances together - I NEVER KNEW THERE WERE CEILIDH DANCES THAT WERE NOT SCOTTISH. We danced to the mixed music and then we danced to the blues fusion at the end. All quite clearly, as a couple. When I say we danced our socks off, let me point out that we were advised that if you don't own dance shoes you can cut off part of a sock and wear it over your shoe for ease of sliding.
If you have not seen Blues dancing and been among this crowd, let me try to describe. That line from The Killers, are we human, or are we dancer? When they dance, they are not male, not female, not gay, not straight, just dancer. It is all fluid - females dance with females, females dance with males, males dance with males. They make it look effortless, flowing. One leads. One follows. And that is also fluid. Within a song, one can be both leader and follower, with not so much of a nod or wink, just a shift somehow between them and they both know. It is graceful, it is sensuous, somewhat bewitching. Some of them have been doing it for years and I could watch them all night (if I weren't also keen to be on my feet).
Because we were one same-sex couple of many, it mattered not a jot that anybody noticed. We stepped back and forth together, trying out our basic swing moves (Isabelle having to concentrate more on hearing the beat), we laughed, we smiled (Isabelle REALLY knows how to smile) and we held hands. Maybe that is part of my problem - maybe I am scared to be in a tiny minority, but when it appears to be absolutely acceptable and the minority isn't so minor, that makes it ok for me.
I feel saddened that there are LGBT people all over the world who cannot legally have a relationship - 74 countries don't allow it, many of them punish same-sex couples, with threats of imprisonment. Homosexuality is still punishable by death in 12 countries. I am disappointed with myself. Here I am in Scotland, where two homosexual people can have a relationship, love each other, marry, and yet I am scared to make it obvious that I am with Isabelle. Must try harder - can do better.
I LOVE dancing in a kind of Billy Elliott way, in my head, anyway. I think, at least, I understand what he says about disappearing. Having done a fair amount of Highland and Ballet, for fun and competitively until I was 16, and then enjoyed jumping about at ceilidhs and discos forever after, I love to dance - free dancing on my own, to almost anything, wild ceilidh dancing (where you know it was a good one if you have bruising around the elbows) and I cannot hear bagpipes without my leg muscles involuntarily contracting into a Seann Triubhas.
I really would like to learn some Blues dancing moves. I will work on the hand holding, Is, if you promise to practise counting.