The Influence of Political Jurisdiction, Age, and Sex on Handholding in Public by Same-Sex Couples Academic Article uri icon


  • Three hundred-forty lesbians and 62 gay males, largely from North America and in partnered relationships, completed online surveys that explored what handholding means to same-sex couples. The data suggest that lesbians in the United States are more likely now than ¼ century ago to hold hands in public spaces. Younger lesbians are more likely to hold hands in public than older lesbians, and Canadian lesbians hold hands more often in public than American lesbians. In response to the question, "What does handholding mean to you?," 26% of the female respondents from North America overtly referred to public handholding as either a political act or a risky behavior. The number of comments of that nature was similar, regardless of whether the lesbians resided in the United States or Canada. Data suggest that full acceptance of same-sex couples in public spaces has not yet occurred, even in jurisdictions where same-sex couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. Although the sample size for males was too small to analyze the influence of age or political jurisdiction on public handholding, males, in general, were significantly less likely than females to view handholding as a means of staying "connected" with their partners.

publication date

  • November 2013