Although it appears attitudes towards LGBT individuals and same-sex couples are becoming more positive, many LGBT people still face a considerable amount of stigma, discrimination and prejudice.
Same-sex couples often face unique additional difficulties to opposite-sex couples which can include coming out, negative reactions from family and friends, fear of public displays of affection and homophobic abuse.
Here are the stories of three same-sex couples depicting these unique experiences:
Kat (21) and Carly (20)
Kat and Carly have been together for a year. Kat is ‘out’ to her immediate family and they are accepting of her sexuality and her relationship with Carly.
Whilst being very happy in their relationship, Kat is not entirely comfortable with her sexuality. This has led to her keeping her relationship hidden from other extended family members including her Aunt where she introduced Carly as a friend.
Kat also fears to hold hands in public. Carly, on the other hand, is completely comfortable with her sexual identity and public displays of affection. Carly is helping Kat face her fears by holding hands in public – but she still remains very aware of her surroundings and the reactions of others.
Brendan (24) and Josh (23)
Brendan and Josh have been together for three years. On more than one occasion, they have experienced verbal abuse while holding hands in public. They noted this mostly happened on weekend nights.
However, on one particular daytime occasion, as Brendan and Josh were walking hand-in-hand, a man in a white van slowed down and shouted homophobic abuse and expletives at them. After this upsetting event, Brendan shared their experience on Twitter and received lots of positive support.
Both of them say that homophobic abuse will not stop them from being themselves and holding hands in public.
Lindsay (30) and Dana (31)
Lindsay and Dana have been together for two years. Lindsay’s parents reacted very negatively to her coming out, immediately disowning her and being verbally abusive including equating homosexuality with pedophilia and criminality. This experience was heart-breaking and emotional for the couple, and Lindsay in particular, who says it was the hardest six months of her life.
Despite this, the couple feel they are stronger because they got through it by communicating, spending time together and seeking support from their close friends. Lindsay has since been able to repair the relationship with her parents but they don’t really associate with Dana much, something that puts pressure on them both. Lindsay has accepted that her parents don’t like her lifestyle but believes her parents are missing out by not knowing Dana.
For more on same-sex relationships read:
These case studies come from a Ph.D. research project by Danni Pearson of the Open University. The research is entitled ‘The Trials, Tribulations and Celebrations of Young Same-Sex Couples in Long-term Relationships’ and is exploring how young same-sex couples experience and sustain their relationships. The research is also connected to the Enduring Love Project, more information can be found at www.enduringlove.co.uk.