The Most Conservative Part of California
Blog post written and submitted by Stories For Love Volunteer, Ken Casparis.
Holding my boyfriend's hand is empowering to me.
I have been dating him for over a year now, and he is the first man that I’ve openly held hands with in public. Doing something that so many people still look down on, and feeling comfortable with it, is powerful. Most of the time I don’t notice the negative looks we get because Bryan is all I care to pay attention to. I want to help other LGBT+ people feel empowered by being themselves and doing what makes them happy, in spite of what others might think or say.
We both live in California’s Central Valley, which is quite possibly the most conservative part of California.
Even though we don’t get many looks while holing hands in our hometown, and never really hear comments about it, we kind of expect it. We’re always cautious when we hold hands or show affection at home. Because of the conservative nature of Central California, we like to get out of town as often as we can. We spend some time in LA, and we’ve traveled to St. Louis, Chicago, and New York. I don’t really expect to get any attention when I’m outside of the Central Valley, but it doesn’t seem to matter where we go, we always get disapproving looks and hear unnecessary comments.
We’re pretty fortunate that we’ve only been confronted with negative stares and comments rather than physical violence.
One day we were walking down a Santa Monica street a street performer who failed to draw a crowd started heckling us. “Why are you with a guy? You are supposed to be with women. Women are better.”
I find it ridiculous that we draw so much attention just because we’re a same sex couple holding hands. I don’t understand how people can’t see how inappropriate their looks and comments are. That’s a part of the reason I volunteer for Stories for Love.
Seeing other LGBT people be open and comfortable with themselves is a huge part of what made me comfortable with myself.
I want to teach people that there is no difference between a same sex/gender couple and any other, and that will be accomplished by living my life in the open and not hiding because I’m scared. If I’m afraid to be myself – If I’m afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand – that tells people that I think there is something wrong with me. I’m done being scared of opinions.