‘Hello hello! Come look see. Buy something nice for your father, yes?’
‘Dad and son exploring our beautiful city?’
‘…He’s your father, no?’’
The first time this happened in Cuba it was a bit of a shock; we panicked and just scuttled off as fast as we could. Over time comments like this have become the norm.
Most of all we find it amusing. It’d be unfair to be annoyed or irritated. Based on a cursory glance, it makes sense to assume age gap couples are father and son!! 99.9% of the time two men that are 30+ years apart (or fewer, that’s just us) and traveling alone together they would indeed be dad and son.
There are a few consequences from this assumption. Firstly that there is (or at least we feel) a degree of additional safety in countries where homosexuality is more taboo. Where people believed to be gay elicit negative or different treatment, this natural camouflage can be said to be beneficial. Granted, neither of us are particularly camp (though we definitely have our moments), which may take down the rainbow red flags others may raise, we attract less attention than many gay couples. The second, connected benefit, is that we are therefore sometimes able to hold hands where others may not. When open homosexuality is uncommon in some cultures anyway, many simply can’t comprehend a relationship like ours. People see what they choose to see – odd foreigners holding hands as opposed to gay men.
This isn’t a ‘benefit’ we particularly like or enjoy. We’d rather correct people as to our relationship. However unfortunately it’s often not safe to do so or can be argued to not be worth the time. Even in countries where homosexuality is legal but locally ‘frowned upon’, often interactions are so fleeting – like walking past a stall holder – it would take far too much time to engage all that interacted with us.
Whilst we laugh, this isn’t a ‘benefit’ we particularly like or enjoy. We’d rather correct people as to our relationship. Being in alien environments however it’s not always safe to do so. Take Poland for instance, they have liberal laws compared to many, but their LGBT+ Free Zone movement incites violence too. To any LGBTQ+ person we would always suggest both understanding the laws, and also reading the situation you’re in before assuming you are safe to behave in a certain way.
So most of the time as we pass street vendors, book experiences or speak to hotel staff we just smile and agree, or say we’re just ‘friends’ and then carry on. We hope that in the future we’ll be able to confidently correct people wherever we go. Things are definitely progressing, however we’re not there yet.
For now we’ll just have to enjoy our camouflage as the peculiar father and son that hold hands.
Guest blog from @TheAgeGapGuys. Follow them on Instagram and checkout their site agegapguys.com, as they seek to promote age gap relationships.