Martin, 33 years old, identifies as gay male. Currently single, but recent partner identified as a gay male.  

This is the second time I went to Paris. This time I went with family and I wish I’d been there with a partner, with a lover. Because around there everyone’s expressing love. I went with my brother and his fiancé, and even just being with them was like lovely to see. People are happy around that place. And I think that’s amazing.

When I went there the time before, with my boyfriend at the time, I was happy to be there. We’d walked over and we were kind of staring at the Eiffel Tower and stuff and my ex initiated. I don’t even think we kissed. I can’t remember. I think it was just a hug. But more of a held hug, so you could tell it was more romantic. But there was a group of tourists and they were looking over and laughing and stuff like that. As soon as I turned around I could see them talking and laughing. And it’s not something I imagined, in a sense, it definitely happened because they were glaring and a few of them were pointing. I felt quite angry. I think my first thing is anger and then almost wanting to retaliate and say something. But then that’s just going to make it even worse. It put such a downer on the mood, because you automatically just feel insecure, you feel judged.

I don’t even think that my ex really noticed it until I brought it up and he shrugged it off; he’s probably used to that. But I’m not used to that, because I don’t show public affection. I think my ex-boyfriend can play it off a bit more, because he does a lot of activist work against gay conversion therapy, because he went through gay conversion therapy. So, he’s very much an advocate of gay rights, equality and those things. But I don’t really push myself and stand for that stuff. Obviously, I believe in equality, but at the same time I’m just not that person to be like fighting that battle. It’s not one I want to fight. So, when it happens it’s like, I’d rather just fucking not. In a sense.

So, I’ve got a kind of sour feeling of that time. So, this picture makes me remember how great Paris is, how accepting it can be, how lovely the Eiffel Tower is and that that would be, should be a safe space. I mean, anywhere should be a safe space. But places like that, more than ever, when you’re on a holiday when you’re somewhere romantic, but it’s still not. Because we got laughed at. So, I mean I shrugged it off straight away, in a sense, but it’s still something I remember, and it’s obviously had a lasting effect on me. Luckily, that was a time where someone just laughed. Someone could have shouted at us, could have come over and beat us up, potentially, you know, you do fear that sort of stuff. Because it happens.

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