It was summer, it was hot, and I was walking with a really cute boy. We’d been on a few dates, but we weren’t really ‘official.’ My heart pounded in my chest as a tingling sensation poured over my hands. For short of a better explanation, the night was electric. I came out of the closet two years earlier, but before that night, I had never really been on a proper date. A proper date involves coffee, or dinner, or a romantic walk. A proper date is where you chat for hours, but you don’t really care that time is passing. That night a proper date unfolded around me.
I had seen representations of love in the movies. Romantic comedies are filled with grand gestures, In films sweethearts heroically arrive at an airport, they sing a song, do a dance, and prove their undying and truthful affections. Sadly, those movies are fake, real life isn’t like that. My night wasn’t like the movies. It was simpler, it was honest, and yet somehow more exciting. A very small act changed my life. That cute boy reached out and held my hand.
His touch was small, and coy. His pinky finger curled around two of my fingers. He was timid, and checking to see if I was interested. I moved my hand firmly onto his, lacing our fingers together, like a very gay shoelace. My actions were clear, they said “I like you, you’re cute, and we should probably date.” Immediately I felt bliss, but for only a moment. A car came bustling by, blaring it’s cacophonous horn. When the horn subside a shout followed, “GAAAAAAY!” The driver yelled at us. I looked at my date, looked at the man, and called back “Duh! …that’s the point” gesturing to our beautifully bonded hands. The driver stared back quizzically, I don’t think he was really expecting a response. His only reply was the screech of his tires as his car faded across the horizon.
That was the only time I have ever faced street harassment. No stranger has felt the need to yell at me since that night. The heckler left me drinking a cocktail of confusion, fear, and resilience. My emotions were really complicated and conflicting. I thought to myself “I guess this is what it feels like to grow up.”