The New York Times had an article by Stephanie Rosenbloom called “A Show of Hands” on 10/5/06 (it can no longer be read online without subscribing).
Some of what she said is that “Nowadays hand-holding has attracted the interest of scientists who are studying its effects on the body and mind. And sexual health educators say it is a much-discussed topic among gay students who now publicly hold hands more than ever before but still must consider whether they want to declare their sexuality.”
In many cultures, same sex hand holding and even arms around bodies as you walk together is not considered sexual at all. In our culture, for a parent and child to hold hands is a normal occurrence – at what age does this begin to be seen as a sexual couple, rather than a couple of another type?
When my niece was 11 or 12, she and I were out for the evening at a holiday festival gathering. We were enjoying our time together and holding hands as we left the event. A woman entering the event saw us walk out together (neither of us had ever seen this woman before), holding hands (my niece did look older than 12), and this woman took a deep breath and said “Oh, wow, you are lesbians, aren’t you?” My niece dropped my hand, I laughed and said “No, sorry, just loving relatives.” and we walked away. My niece has never held my hand again. That was a loss to me and I think probably to her also.
It is now more than 10 years later and my niece is a lesbian. She has a wonderful partner and is living a good life. I wonder how that incident impacted her thinking, if at all. We don’t talk about things like that, so I won’t ask her. But, I can ask you. Who do you hold hands with? Who sees you? Is it always sexual?