Although attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples seem to be becoming more positive, many LGBTQ+ people still face a considerable amount of stigma, discrimination and prejudice.
Same-sex couples often face unique additional difficulties which can include coming out, negative reactions from family and friends, fear of public displays of affection and homophobic abuse.
Here, three same-sex couples tell their stories:
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.
While being very happy in their relationship, Kat is not entirely comfortable with her sexuality. She keeps her relationship hidden from other extended family members including her aunt, to whom she introduced Carly as a friend. Kat worries about holding 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 remains very aware of her surroundings and the reactions of others.
Brendan and Josh have been together for three years. They have experienced verbal abuse more than once while holding hands in public. This has mostly happened on weekend nights.
However, on one 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. Brendan shared their experience of this upsetting event on Twitter and received lots of positive support.
Both Brendan and Josh say that homophobic abuse will not stop them from being themselves and holding hands in public.
Lindsay and Dana have been together for two years. Lindsay’s parents reacted very negatively to her coming out. They were verbally abusive, equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and disowning their daughter. This experience was heart-breaking and emotional for the couple, and Lindsay 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 to some extent, but they don’t associate with Dana much, which puts pressure on them both. Lindsay has accepted that her parents don’t like her relationship and believes her parents are missing out by not knowing Dana.
These case studies come from a PhD 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 explores how young same-sex couples experience and sustain their relationships. The research is also connected to the Enduring Love project.