Chelsea, 37 years old, identifies as gender fluid and lesbian. In a 16 year partnership (now married) with an individual who identifies as gender fluid lesbian.

This picture was taken approximately 18 months ago. We’d gone to a theatre, and it was just a night out that we’d gone to and they’d given out glowsticks and stuff. It really speaks of unity even though we’re not holding hands, it’s kind of, it’s what we do. We definitely are really tactile, and we do that wherever we are. We’re always holding hands or linked arms. And I was talking to some of my gay friends about this – how much do you do it in public and how much in private in terms of touch and connectedness and stuff? Early on we always did hold hands. But I was very aware in the early days, I was definitely much more aware than my (now) wife that we would sometimes get looks that were judgmental. And I don’t know, I never knew whether it was that my wife was just not concerned or whether I was just paying more attention to detail. I don’t think I was searching people’s faces, but I definitely know that I’ve noticed negativity more than my wife did. I wouldn’t say that we’ve had a lot of that, but we have had some and although really early days, so maybe first 3-5 years it would really concern me when I noticed it. It never stopped us holding hands. It would potentially make me nervous, and potentially fearful both of other people’s negative judgement, and if there was going to be anything other than just looks. And I have to say we… for a number of years probably… we haven’t had anything negative in terms of looks or comments or anything like that but searching myself I don’t know if I’m not noticing it as she didn’t notice it back then or whether it genuinely has stopped, I’m not sure.

My main memories back when we first started going out, was it tended to be younger males. In groups as well. And it would just be like ‘oh fucking lesbian’ or laughing and pointing. Or just the odd sort of, when you catch someone’s eyes and they realise who you are and who you are with and you’re tactile with that person, and they realise that it clearly is a relationship, maybe uncomfortability in the other person’s demeanour or facial expression.  A couple of times, I remember two times specifically, one time in Manchester when there were two, I wanted to call them teenagers, they were like 16-17 maybe, two guys and one just, I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was something about ‘oh disgusting fucking lesbians’ and his friend was laughing. So probably because of things that we did experience, small and big groups of guys, I would never let go of my wife’s hand, but I might tense up, in fear of what could be.

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