I'M FASCINATED by the kerfuffle surrounding the incident of two men who were ejected from the Oak Bar in Cork for kissing.
The two were issued a warning by bouncers after they were seen sharing a kiss on the dance floor. When they kissed again, they were asked to leave.
Understandably, the story went viral almost straight away and it all kicked off. There was outrage, there was condemnation and there was talk of rallying the gay forces to go around to the pub in question and kiss all night.
But it all got sorted. The staff of The Oak Bar met with the two men (possibly afraid that their Saturday night pub was going to become a homo love fest) and, well, they all kissed and made up.
The pub apologised and the couple admitted they could have handled the incident differently.
But it made me think of how I behave when I am out with my gay partner socialising. And the sad truth is that I would be too nervous to kiss her in public.
I would be scared someone might take a dislike to this and hurl abuse at me.
The fact is, I don't even hold my partner's hand when I am walking down the street. There is no way I would bring attention to her, and myself because of the fear of verbal or physical abuse.
It's staggering that in this day and age, I don't have the confidence in Ireland to show affection to my partner of almost nine years.
I have only had two negative reactions from people in the past, for being gay. The first was when I was in a gay bar in London in the 1990s, sitting beside a window, when someone threw a huge rock right into the window and it shattered beside me.
The second was when after Big Brother, I was walking down the street and a group of teenage boys surrounded me and shouted "f***ing lezzer" into my face.
I was able to quickly put both incidents behind me, on one level, but I realise now that it left a long-lasting effect, one that stops me showing any public displays of affection so as not to antagonise or incite abuse.
I admire those two young guys who kissed in the bar. I, in fact, envy them. Even if their kiss may have been a tad on the sloppy side -- which no one wants to see from anyone, essentially what they did was a very normal act, one that got an abnormal reaction.
And I love the response that the gay and straight communities alike had to the pub's reaction. It was unacceptable.
So I might just be a little braver the next time I am out with my girlfriend. Perhaps I'll risk a public peck on the cheek.
One step at a time!