If you’ve been out of the closet for decades and you live in a state that has marriage equality and, better yet, your city and neighborhood reflect the diversity that’s a hallmark of urban life at its most rewarding, it is easy, most of the time, to feel as respected and at ease in society as any straight person does.
Then your partner slips his hand in yours as you walk down the street and your stomach clenches just a bit. Your heart rate goes up a nervous notch or two. It’s not shame that does this. It’s not embarrassment. It’s the awareness that even in Manhattan and even in 2013, you might easily encounter someone who will cast a disgusted look your way. Or say something nasty. Or, worse, throw a punch.