Kissing someone goodbye in public should be simple enough. But even in 2018, just a small public display of affection such as holding hands or kissing someone goodbye isn’t an easy choice for someone who isn’t a heterosexual.

“I should be holding a hand, and I’m holding shame instead,” Sean Lionadh says in Time for Love, an audio-visual poem that explores homophobia in modern society (video above).

Lionadh’s spoken word poem, which was posted by BBC Scotland’s The Social, shows how it feels to be a gay man experiencing homophobia in the modern world in 2018. The poem weaves a distressing yet intimate perspective of the “hundred eyes” that “hurry to objectify this hand in hand stance” or the “glare after glare, snowballing stares stretching social disgrace through this forbidden space”.

Twenty-year-old Lionadh was apparently driven to write the poem and make the short film after a passer-by in Glasgow told him, “I’ve got nothing against gays, but do you have to do it in front of my kids?”

The comment put Lionadh in a state of “arresting helplessness”, which he explores in the poem, as well as the meaning of “normal”:

“I’m a walking meal through the mouths of normality
And what does that mean, exactly?
See, normality is a crowd-sourced fantasy
but it turns every single silent person in this park
into an enemy.”