A few months ago, I needed a date. My favorite movie (Dario Argento’s Suspiria) had been “re-imagined” by Oscar-nominated director Luca Guadagnino into what critics were calling a “grim and glorious work of madness,” centering around a coven of witches who channel and direct their magic in plain sight under the guise of a world-renowned dance company. With Tilda Swinton as the antagonist in a movie built around sexy-scary witch dancing, I knew I had to be there opening night. I also knew I needed a hand to hold.
I began looking for a date in July. Presumably this would be enough time to find a compatible hand (and person attached to it) for the November release, but as the weeks went on, I began to have my doubts. I met nice, interesting guys who shared a love for Tilda, but not horror. Some guys disqualified themselves by immediately asking if I’d be interested in holding something else. Suddenly it was October and I realized I was a mid-thirties gay man with thoroughly Victorian relationship goals that were perhaps unobtainable in 2018. In my quest I had been offered nearly everything except the one thing I was looking for: a hand to hold during the scary bits of my most-anticipated movie of the year.
Don’t worry, it all worked out. I met a nice, sweet guy and, when I thought there was potential, I showed him the trailer. He was as fascinated as I was and we immediately began speculating about the movie and what the witches would do with the big, silver hook that was the focal point of the trailer (spoiler alert – nothing good). I asked if he’d like to go with me (and yes, hold my hand). He said yes, and we shared a lovely evening of hand-holding and, during a particularly brutal and beautiful scene, shoulder-grabbing while our mouths gaped in horror.
It was exactly what I wanted, and not just because I like to squeeze some fingers when I’m scared. What I really wanted was someone to share the experience with, someone who understood why I was so excited about this movie and shared in my excitement. Someone who wanted to talk about it during the drive home and trade theories of what the movie really meant. I wanted to connect, and I’m glad he shared the experience (and his hand) with me.
No, we’re not in a relationship, but we did become friends. I was reminded of our date, and my four-month quest to find a hand to hold, because Valentine’s Day is approaching. Looking back, it would have been a lot easier to find a “casual” date (you know what I mean), but that’s not what I wanted. The experience is all the more significant for me because it took nearly 20 years of dating to find the Victorian-style connection I was looking for. And I only found it because I was completely honest and said exactly what I wanted.
Many of us have learned to compromise, to hide parts of ourselves. We grew up during less accepting times when our institutions told us that we were less than, not equal. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the transgender military ban to go into effect is doing the same thing right now, telling us that members of our community aren’t enough to serve their country. When we hear it enough, we start to believe it. And when we believe it, we lose sight of who we are, and we take what we can get instead of what we want. We compromise; we settle.
This Valentine’s Day know that you are deserving of love. Love can be scary (like Suspiria) because it means being vulnerable, being honest, and saying what you want. But, if you do those things, and your patient, you might just find a hand worth holding.
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.