Moto-cross racers, and flat-track racers often put their feet down, as required for stability and conrol.
You're free to do the same. As skill advances, you may put a foot down less frequently.
justjeff's correct in his comment above. For an equestrian analogy, better to grab onto the saddle horn, or get bucked off (if those are the choices)?
Regardless, I think you've reached a favorable point in your development as a rider: RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE. This is true, no matter what the situation. Doesn't matter what your partners' reaction might be; it's YOUR ride; do what makes YOU feel most comfortable and secure.
If any such thing as "riding etiquette" exists, razzing or poking fun a a new rider is "bad form," and could have dangerous consequences.