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Touching is a very important display of intimacy, but even small gestures such as holding another man’s hand can carry the risk of attracting verbal or physical abuse in the wrong venue.

Small, natural displays of interest on a date – holding hands, hugging, a goodnight kiss – can lead to major problems for a same-sex couple, depending on the location of the date.

For the most part I live in a welcoming and accepting place, where I haven’t had to worry too much about public displays of affection.

That said, I do live in one of the more bohemian neighbourhoods, and even so, on more than one occasion I’ve engaged in shouting matches in response to homophobic insults.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in progressive cities like Toronto, safe spaces like the Village are becoming less essential for dating, as mainstream acceptance of homosexuality continues to grow.

The reason is I’m a gay guy in his mid-thirties who was on the verge of giving up hope of finding love in the age of online dating.

We all seek out very different things in life and over the years I’ve learnt that the key to finding harmony is about connecting with those who are on the same page as us.

Born in 1980 and raised Catholic, I grew up in Sicily, a place where even the slightest sign of “gay life” was nowhere to be seen.

Unsurprisingly, it took my early 20s to figure myself out, when I hopelessly fell in love with someone and could do nothing about it.

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