This is kind of a charged subject for me. So please excuse the longish post.
Almost two years ago I was having dinner with a boyfriend at a really romantic inn in Massachusetts. I saw a straight couple nearby enjoy a G-rated but obviously heartfelt kiss. I sooooooo wanted to kiss the guy I was with, but I had a sense that it would attract attention or make other people uncomfortable. When dinner was over we had some great kisses in the car and I told my bf what I was thinking in the restaurant. He seemed to agree that not kissing in the restaurant was a good call, but that the whole situation is pretty unfair.
Skip ahead to this summer and a different bf. We had spent a great day at a local beach. On the way home we stopped at a busy ice cream stand. There were tons of straight couples there, plenty exchanging quick kisses, embraces, standing with arms around each other, etc.
I wasn't even aware of what I had done, when this frat boy looking kid charged toward me yelling. It was then that I realized I had slipped my arm around my bf's waist and we had had been like that for at least several minutes. Luckily my brain worked fast enough for me to step away from by bf and toward the jerk. He stopped and more or less screamed, "What the fuck is your problem, you fucking fags?". As stunned and scared as I was, I think I was more angry than anything. I never took my eyes away from his and answered, "I have no problem. But, if you don't step away right now, you're going to have some medical problems".
The guy looked me up and down and at the crowd of people staring at him and he backed off, said a bunch of stuff I didn't catch and walked quickly back to his truck. At the time I was amazed that he backed off, but in hindsight he may have read my vehemence. It occurred to me that he might come back with some friends, a Louisville slugger or a gun so I kept my eyes in the direction he walked until I saw him drive off. Meanwhile a bunch of people in the line had their cell phones out and were offering to call the police, etc. They also were verbally very supportive. All I could do was thank them and tell my bf that I thought we should probably go. I was pretty collected until we got back to his car. Then I kind of lost it from a combination of relief and outrage. I know it was just adrenaline talking but I actually felt like I wanted a fight. It took me hours to settle down.
That incident was a kind of tipping point for me. My bf and I talked it over a lot and he was with me in thinking that when were in places where gay couples just aren't a novelty - i.e. most of New England, New York and California, we would let the spirits move us as they might and deal with any consequences. (For the record, there never were any more.) I just don't accept that it is my responsibility to make homophobes comfortable. That said, I wouldn't be comfortable with more than some hand holding, brief kisses, hugs, etc.
The bf that the ice cream stand thing happened with and I stopped seeing each other (for unrelated reasons) at the end of last year.
So going forward I guess the PDA thing is one of those things to sort out with other guys I date. Since we need to be on similar pages regarding comfort and risk.
I have no interest in being a martyr to my cause, but, on the other hand, I feel as entitled to bond with my lover as any straight person might feel to bond with theirs. And, yes, if I had to, I would fight for it.