Today I was driving home from work, along with the same road I drive nearly every day. My brain was on auto-pilot. I was thinking more about what I have in my fridge for lunch and whether the weather was going to be nice that day, than on the curves of the pavement and lights up ahead.
But my attention was caught, rather suddenly, by a couple walking hand and hand down the path beside the river. One was carrying a shopping bag in one hand and clasping their partner’s in the other. They appeared to be shrieking with laughter, neither one of them able to remove the smile from their faces as they wandered along, being what seemed to be the definition of happy.
For most, this is not an unusual sight. Some may not even notice, others may smile, and few may be reminded of their lack of companionship. But this couple made me beam with joy. The image and the feeling attached will never leave me. For this couple were special. This couple were gay.
Two men, walking hand and hand down the street as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world. Because to them, it was ordinary. To them, it was the most natural thing they could image. They were at peace. And the most poetic thing of all is that anyone who could possibly disagree with them, anyone who would think to call names or voice negative opinion, were safely encased and metal and glass whizzing past them at 30 miles per hour. Here, no one could touch them.
As I sat parked outside my building, it dawned on me a rather sobering truth. This was the first time I’d ever seen this. Sure, in the past I’d seen many LGBT couples. I’d seen them in public and private, on social media and in newspapers. But I’d never seen them quite so confident in themselves. They were always just a little bit reserved, a little too politically correct, trying their hardest to act natural, but with the feelings and comfort of the surrounding public in the back of their mind. Or quite the opposite: aggressively uncomforting to those around them just to prove a point.
This was the first time I saw a gay couple as something other than a gay couple. I saw them as simply two people in love, walking down a street, unable to remove the smile from their faces.