On Saturday June 11th, as I took our dog out of our shop in San Mateo to get her comfy in her kennel, the friends we’d been awaiting to have dinner with arrived and ran into me on the street. I love these guys like crazy, and we’ve been friends for nearly 30 years, but… they’re kissers, usually right on the lips. And here on our little street in San Mateo there were families with little kids heading this way and that and my mind screamed “they’re going to kiss me right here in front of everyone…. what if………….?!?!?!?” I should point out, unless it isn’t already obvious, that these two friends and my husband and I are all of the same gender, male. They did, of course, go right in for a kiss, this time on the cheek though, right there on 25th Avenue, and the world didn’t stop.

Or did it?

We had a lovely dinner with our friends, catching up on their lives and ours, talking a bit about this and that and, of course, politics. These two guys have been OUT OUT for a very long time, pushing companies like Apple and HP to be leaders in LGBTQ inclusion. And they’ve always kissed, each other as they share special moments together in restaurants, at plays, strolling… and always kissing their friends hello and goodbye.

After dinner we headed back to our shop to do final lockup and there were two kids standing outside, looking in the window at our giant K’Nex contraption that we use to catch people’s attention. “Are you going to open? Can I come in?” One boy asked as we unlocked the door. “What does that thing do?” The other boy asked. I said it was OK to come in and asked my husband Derrick to go ahead and turn on the K’Nex contraption. One kid scooted towards the back of the store to play with some of our puzzles and the other stood at the window and marveled at the contraption.

We chatted with our friends for a few more minutes, gave them one of our special fair-trade chocolate bars, and then they were ready to leave and of course, a quick hug and kiss (on the cheek) and off they went. Had the two youngsters noticed, I wondered.

And what if they had?

Our morning routine is pretty fixed. Sunday was no different. Wake up, take a shower, get the dog up and fed, heat up some coffee, check e-mail and………….. Orlando.

Shock, disbelief, horror, sadness, anger…… Knowing that in Florida and around the country and world people, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, best friends, partners, lovers, husbands and wives, would suddenly be staring at a spot in their homes, in their cars, in their workplaces, and realizing that the person who had sat in that spot would never be there again. Heartbreaking, frightening, infuriating.

And then, realizing that the person who committed this horrible crime, killing 50 people and wounding 50 some-odd more, had a name that sounded Muslim, I began to worry about the backlash that might arise against my Muslim friends.

And then, this morning, Monday, I awoke to learn that the man who had killed and maimed so many people had recently reportedly become upset by seeing two men kissing.

Damn it.

Some might say that’s exactly why two men should not kiss in public. Some might say that it was right for me to feel uncomfortable being kissed by these two friends.

They’d be wrong. And I’ve been wrong.

Simple signs of affection, holding hands, a brief kiss, hugging, should not shock, scare, or anger anyone. They can be teachable moments, when a child sees two people of the same gender showing affection and asks “Mommy, why are those two men holding hands?” The simple answer is “Because they love each other…. just like Mommy loves Daddy.” Most kids will simply say “Oh.” and move on with their lives. Others will ask more questions, which is a great thing.

Despite being quite out of the closet myself, ready to TELL anyone that I am gay, married to the man I’ve loved for 26 years, until today I’ve always been squeamish about SHOWING that side of myself, with signs of affection like holding hands and kissing. Now, I think, that needs to change. Seeing two men, two women, or two people whose genders you can’t easily guess share a brief hug, kiss, or hold hands should be as common as seeing two people who are clearly of opposite genders doing the same. No one should be shocked, surprised, afraid, repulsed, or thrown into a murderous rage over that.

Harvey Milk told the LGBTQ community that the only way we’d find equal treatment was to come out, be out, everywhere and with everyone. After the tragedy in Orlando, I’ll add something from that call to my own life. Come out and give the people you love a kiss, remembering those who won’t be able to kiss the people they love ever again after one horrible night in Orlando. Instead of revenge, violence begetting violence, let our response be to love each other and all those around us more fiercely than ever before. Martin Luther King had it right. Darkness can not overcome darkness and hate can not overcome hate. Only love can do that.


Bookmark and Share