Robert, 32 years old, who identifies as a gay cis-male, is in a partnership with a bisexual cis-male.

…the lyrics really stood out to me and [the sketch] is one I drew at the time. It captured this emotion or sensation of being in a new relationship, the first kind of what I considered to be on the path to a real relationship with a same sex partner. It just captures the tension of wanting and expecting casual displays of affection, especially hand holding, but also a strong sense of hesitation and for me that was both internal and …  I didn’t feel comfortable necessarily holding his hand or couldn’t do it without kind of thinking I shouldn’t or, or feeling confused about it, and then also worrying about what other people would think.

When I signed up to participate in this research project, I remembered that I had made the sketch because it just so perfectly captured where I was in my mind at that point. It wasn’t a question of pride or protest, but it was very much around shame, and this idea that…I did this when I was in a non-same sex relationship many, many, many years ago (i.e. held hands in public). These were things I didn’t think about, then. It was just kind of a given that you would do this and there wasn’t any real sense of self-consciousness around it.  But when you’re really excited coz you’ve started a new relationship and you’ve got this urge to hold hands, I couldn’t do it without feeling self-conscious. And then it almost lost its… it doesn’t feel as…it didn’t feel as good as I thought it might if it didn’t have all these other things on top of it. So, it felt complicated, when it feels like it should have been simple…

I think it was the impossibility of all of the imagery that the lyrics bring out. You know, this idea that the dust is settled in the desert or that no tree is shivering. They feel like things that won’t happen; in the song this is what spoke to me. The sense of, will you ever be able to hold, will you ever be able to hold his hand without hesitating? It was a really open question at the time and might still be. But it resonated very, very strongly and especially at the time.

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