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

I’d just finished work, and I was downstairs at a tube station, and I met my boyfriend at the time. And he came down the escalators and tried to like give me some affection. And I kind of pushed him off. And I just remember doing that and I was just like “oh no”.

And I see a lot of public displays of affection on the tubes. I’m quite a people watcher. I see a lot of lesbian girls with public displays of affection on the tube and I love it because I’m like “Yeah, they’re kind of strong enough, in a sense, to do that”. But then I find myself staring. And then it looks weird because I’m feeding into that, potentially, making them uncomfortable. But then it’s such a hard one to play. But I remember my ex also, he kind of used to try and hug me on the tube and stuff as well. And I’m like, “no – definitely not on the tube”. I wouldn’t say public transport is a safe space for a lot of stuff. There has been attacks. Them lesbian girls on the bus upstairs got basically all beaten up until blood was pouring out of their faces. I’ve done martial arts for years. If I had to fight, I’d fight. I don’t really care about that. It’s just, I like a peaceful life. Or that’s what I work towards. I just want a peaceful life. And I feel like public displays of affection on the tube, for me, it’s just an absolute no-go.

I’m not going to be doing that, because I can see everyone not accepting that. I mean maybe if I was in a bar or somewhere where I felt safe, but I don’t feel like in public it’s a safe space.

I have seen a lot of people looking. I mean at gay relationships. No one bats an eye if you’re straight. Yeah. It’s almost like someone’s looking at someone who’s got like a birthmark on their face, like a defect. You get a lot of people second looking and you can just notice it. I’ve seen people shout ‘poof’, ‘gay’ like just shout those things and they are mainly done it because someone’s showing affection, being too camp or something.

With that time in the tube, I remember those things quite vividly because they were uncomfortable for me. It is easier to remember those times than the time that I was relaxed and gave a kiss on the cheek or we did hold hands. I can’t really remember those times, but there definitely was. These are more engrained in my memories.

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