Contrary to popular belief, New York City may not be as tolerant of LGBTQ people as many like to believe. At least according to blogger Connor Borden.
In a new op-ed titled PDA Is a Straight Privilege, Borden explains why there’s still work to be done when it comes to fully accepting LGBTQ people into society, even in a place as liberal and open-minded as Manhattan.
“Public displays of affection are a privilege,” Borden writes. “Although the mentality and attitudes toward the queer community are rapidly changing in some parts of the world, including the United States, it is still unsafe for gay people to hold hands.”
And before you get to thinking New York doesn’t apply here, Borden suggests otherwise.
“I have friends who have been harassed and verbally abused for sitting side by side with their same-sex significant other,” he writes. “This is simply not a concern for straight folks, though many choose not to engage in public displays of affection due to the threat of light shaming. In queer relationships, however, it’s the threat of violence.”
And he’s right. New York City is no stranger to antigay attacks. In 2013, a long string of hate crimes were committed against members of the LGBTQ community over the course of just a few months. And there have been many more since then.
“Behind every glance, touch and smile directed at a partner lies a looming fear of public retribution,” Borden writes, “and this toxic stress from simply loving someone can be overwhelming.”
He goes on to acknowledge that while not every gay couple has suffered from harassment at the hands of homophobes, “we do not have the privilege of worry-free interaction. … Straight people have every right to play tonsil hockey on the sidewalk, and no one should feel guilty for doing so.”
So what can be done about this?
For starters, Borden says, same-sex PDA must be “normalized.”
“I’m not asking that every straight person in New York stop doing their thing,” he writes. “But the straight NYU students who choose to sit on each other’s laps in dining halls and give hickeys to each other in study lounges could consider their impact and recognize their privilege.”
He concludes by saying, “As a community trying to create a positive and uplifting environment for all students, becoming conscious of the effect of one’s actions is a step in the right direction.”
This article originally appeared on Queerty
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