I need my space / Necesito mi espacio

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

Do you like to hold hands? Is an arm draped over your shoulder reassuring? Is an arm around your waist comforting? I come from a family that never physically demonstrated affection. Once I was an adult, any time I would hug my mother in greeting, she would stand with her arms straight down at her sides. Years with San Geraldo made her appreciate hugs and by the time she was in her 80s, she actually liked it.

For us, public displays of affection have always been a political statement and we risked being attacked by some nut job. When we moved to San Francisco, we made a point of holding hands in public. In the Castro District, opposite-sex couples got funny looks if they walked down the street hand-in-hand. Not in judgment. It was simply not a common sight. I loved publicly expressing our affection, but I honestly hated holding hands. It stopped the free swing of my arm. It made my hand clammy. I had to match my pace to SG’s. My stride became awkward. Torture. And when he wraps that giant hand and big-boned arm around my shoulder, I feel like I’m being crushed. Poor San Geraldo. I do, at least, like hugging. I had a friend a while back who insisted on holding my hand when we walked together. She made me insane.

Anyway, I saw the couple pictured below and my entire body tensed up. I wanted to rescue her. ‘Isn’t that weight on your shoulder oppressive? Doesn’t it hurt?’ ‘How can you even walk like that?’ ‘It’s so hot out! Aren’t you sweating?’ ‘Isn’t he sweating?’ ‘Let her go!!!’

So, tell me, are you a hand-holding, arm-around-the-shoulder type?

¿Te gusta tomarte de la mano? ¿Es tranquilizador tener un brazo sobre el hombro? ¿Es reconfortante tener un brazo alrededor de tu cintura? Vengo de una familia que nunca demostró cariño físicamente. Como adulto, cuando abrazaba a mi madre a modo de saludo, ella se paraba con los brazos hacia abajo a los costados. Los años con San Geraldo le hicieron apreciar los abrazos y cuando cumplió 80 años, realmente le gustaban.

Para nosotros, las muestras públicas de afecto siempre han sido una declaración política y corríamos el riesgo de ser atacados por algún loco. Cuando nos mudamos a San Francisco, nos propusimos tomarnos de la mano en público. En el distrito de Castro, las parejas de sexos opuestos recibían miradas raras si caminaban de la mano por la calle. No en juicio. Simplemente no era algo común. Me encantaba expresar públicamente nuestro afecto, pero honestamente odiaba tomarnos de la mano. Detuvo el movimiento libre de mi brazo. Se me puso la mano húmeda. Tuve que igualar mi ritmo al de SG. Mi paso se volvió incómodo. Tortura. Y cuando me rodea el hombro con esa mano gigante y su brazo de huesos grandes, siento que me están aplastando. Pobre San Geraldo. Al menos a mí me gusta abrazar. Hace un tiempo tuve una amiga que insistía en tomarme de la mano cuando caminábamos juntos. Ella me volvió loco.

De todos modos, vi a la pareja en la foto de abajo y todo mi cuerpo se tensó. Quería rescatarla. ¿No te resulta opresivo ese peso sobre tus hombros? ¿No te duele?’ ‘¿Cómo puedes siquiera caminar así?’ ‘¡Hace tanto calor afuera! ¿No estás sudando?’ ‘¿No está sudando él?’ ‘¡¡¡Déjala ir!!!’

Entonces, dime, ¿eres del tipo que se toma de la mano y pasa el brazo alrededor del hombro?

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

37 thoughts on “I need my space / Necesito mi espacio”

  1. I’d die with that much contact. I am a hugger. We move at different paces, holding hands would result in one of us being dragged along, while the other one left dragged down.

    1. David:
      I’m a hugger, too. I’ve been one since my 30s, I suppose. Before that, cheek-vicinity air kisses worked well.

  2. At this point in my life, I’m not a toucher. I only hug when necessary. Part of it has to do with pain.

    I don’t mind seeing folks holding hands or with an arm around the other, but don’t really like seeing heavier displays. Get a room.

    1. Kelly:
      I sure understand pain limiting physical contact and am fortunate at this point in time that I don’t have the problem anymore. Here’s hoping.. That’s the pits. SG and I get annoyed by public displays of affection, but a part of that is the resentment we feel since we would put our lives at risk if we were to do so. Than again… get a room!

  3. Don’t mind hugs, but not a hand holder and really, really, really don’t like having anyone sling an arm over my shoulder/around waist, especially while walking. I’m short and having people tower over and around me is extremely unpleasant at the best of times. The kind of choke hold being endured by the woman in that photo would send me insane. Pretty sure I’d be putting a sharp elbow jab in the ribs of an offender (even a loved one).

  4. Hugs are fine between people who love each other, but I have never been one for PDAs (public displays of affection) – it is/was, as you say, fine as a form of public protest or defiance when needed, but in general, no. And as for snogging and slurping on public transport or in pubs, no matter the gender or sexuality of the couple concerned, I can’t stand it… Jx

  5. Yes and yes!
    I remember in ’79 walking the streets in Vancouver hand and hand with Ron…..the first time in public! It felt so liberating. Could not have done that in our home town/city at that time.

    1. Jim:
      The first time SG and I grabbed hands in The Castro, it was so empowering. (Even though I found it so physically uncomfortable.)

    2. Yes indeed! Love the journey of finding “comfortable” whether hand on top of underneath! Wow, memories are flooding back!

  6. I like to hold hands occasionally, in P-town or other gay friendly spots, just because we can, but it’s not 100% of the time not is it a forced thing. In P-town, Jeffrey and I sometimes hold hands, the BFJ and I sometimes hold hands, and sometimes all three of us hold hands as a sign of affection and friendship. But I don’t like hand holding with anyone else. I love hugs (and friendly kisses if we develop that level of closeness) between friends and loved ones, but arms around the waste and neck…no thanks. Way too cumbersome and uncomfortable. I don’t mind occasional intertwined lounging on sofas and in beds, either. I am a tactile person, so I like doing random intimate touches, pets, squeezes, hugs, etc…but nothing sustained or it becomes awkward. However, there are occasions when full body embraces are welcome and encouraged…*smirk*

    1. Sassybear:
      I’ve become a hugger. It’s fascinating how so many of us feel the same way about the rest. I had no idea.

  7. Not a hand holder, myself. I am, however, a hug ho’. Balder Half is a faster walker than I am, so I’m left a few steps behind. Some people are always in a hurry to get nowhere! I hate seeing public displays of tonsil hockey. I don’t care who’s playing.

      1. Tundra Bunny:
        I had never heard the term and I love it. Leave it to Deedles. She has such a way with words.

    1. Deedles:
      Yeah, SG and I are both huggers. People say he gives the best hugs. Our local produce vendor insists he saved her life years ago with a hug when she was having a panic attack (her father was dying, she was divorcing her husband after 25 years). She says he brought her back. I believe her. And we both hate tonsil hockey (I love the phrase) and other forms of PDA.

    1. Claudia:
      She seemed to be happy. I would last 2 seconds. Just a plain old hug, however, is wonderful.

  8. I don’t like PDA’s beyond an affectionate touch on an arm. I like hugging or kissing people I love, but that’s usually indoors or at a special occasion. The guy in the picture looks like he’s got his partner in a choke hold: that’s way too possessive, manipulative and coercive for me. And I have never tolerated unwanted touching in the workplace… 33 years ago, a male co-worker came up behind me, reached around and grabbed my breasts. I turned around and punched him in the jaw, dropped him like a sack of potatoes and told him to never touch me again without my permission! And I’m only 5’3″ tall, LOL!

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      It’s funny how many of us react the same way to that “choke hold.” I wish I could have been there to witness that punch in the jaw! You are my idol.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      There was that, too. What did she have in that thing? She must have been carrying all HIS stuff, too.

  9. I’m not, for the same reasons you aren’t, or weren’t in the past. Yet when I look at the picture of that young woman, I can see where she might find it appealing, along as she really trusted the guy, which she apparently does.

  10. I think it goes without saying that I’m not a hand holding arm around my shoulder type girl. But I recently saw a man and woman walking hand in hand, surrounded by their young children and thought it sweet to see they were still in love to the hand holding in public degree. P.S. Whatever was wrong with blogger has fixed itself, as I am no longer commenting as anonymous.

    1. Shirley:
      My heart does warm to sights like you mention. Blogger and WordPress could drive me crazy… and the quirks of all the different browsers.

  11. His arm isn’t around her shoulder–it’s around her neck! That’s too possessive. I grew up the way you did. We didn’t hug or touch each other. That never changed. When we had huggers in the family, such as a brother-in-law or two, it was shocking. X and I held hands or occasionally he put his arm around me but he tended to send mixed messages with touch.


  12. I like hugs but I am too Midwestern to do more in public. If we get too close to each other we develop chest pains. I don’t think I’ve ever held hands with Someone in public.

Please share your thoughts...