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A Day in Hand
July 31, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

The latest tool to challenge homophobia: same-sex hand-holding. This past weekend, a same-sex hand-holding relay was held in London, to coincide with Olympic-related events. It's not just for gay and lesbian couples; sympathetic heterosexuals are encouraged to join in and take a stand, or rather a stroll, for tolerance.
posted by acb (71 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did anyone send an invite to the former president?
posted by mullingitover at 9:58 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was in India, same-sex hand-holding and arm-holding was quite common, even though I didn't sense any lack of homophobia. Just not defined as gay there, culturally, I guess.
posted by msalt at 10:03 AM on July 31, 2009


Cute idea. Everyone needs their hand held!
posted by orange swan at 10:07 AM on July 31, 2009


msalt- discussed here previously. It's OSHH that can get you killed in India, apparently.

I hate holding hands. It's uncomfortable and sweaty. But I am happy to see that times have changed to the degree that two straight guys--women have always had the option of holding hands in public without fear--can be physically demonstrative with one another beyond high-fives.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2009


The "sightings" section of the website squirks me out a bit. It's making a huge thing this, when such sightings could be same-gender couples or whatnot.

This has been done for at least a few years at my old university. February 12, 2008 (pdf) was Same Gender Hand-Holding day, and the event happened again in 2009.

I'm all for challenging homophobia, but this is not that new of a tool.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2009


Same-sex hand-holding is most prevalent in countries where teh gay doesn't exist.
posted by gman at 10:15 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think that women have always had the option of holding hands in public without fear, as ethnomethodologist suggests. I know women who have had rocks thrown at them from a moving car when walking down the street holding hands, and women holding hands in public are often subject to street harassment.
posted by jennyjenny at 10:18 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


As weird as this is going to sound, same-sex hand-holding has impacted my view of homosexuality more strongly than any other single act or argument.

I was 20 years old when I first left upstate New York - abandoning deeply evangelical fundamentalist family, friends, and peers to move in with this socialist girl right in the heart of Capital Hill in Seattle. There simply aren't any words that would do justice to how deeply my worldview was shifting at the time, emerging from a lifetime extreme right-wing beliefs (including religiously-inspired homophobia) into a firmly leftist mindset.

I remember walking out onto Broadway for the first time, looking down at street full of people strolling around at noon on lunchbreak, many couples holding hands, and observing that almost a third of the couples were same sex - just as happy as the others and with nobody taking the slightest notice.

And I remember saying to myself, "This. This is how things should be."
posted by Ryvar at 10:18 AM on July 31, 2009 [27 favorites]


Can you spot which of them are angry british conservatives who do it to show their yearning for the pre-wildean times when gentlemen were free to do so without any assumptions?
posted by Free word order! at 10:20 AM on July 31, 2009


Truly exciting!
posted by Postroad at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2009


In Sweden when you see young girls (preteens and teens) holding hands it simply means that they are best-friends-forever, it's very common. (I did it). Women in their mid-twenties, not so much, more likely a couple. Ladies over the age of 70 = best friends forever again (though they usually hook arms, as if to steady each other n their walks).
posted by dabitch at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm pleased to see this. Public displays of affection are really the front lines of this fight, and I'm sadly just too tightly wound to fight this good fight. I was raised in a household where all public affection was looked down on, and I internalized that belief.

So who wants to help the cause, and help me get over my internalized disgust for public affection by holding my hand?
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2009


But when will it be safe for me to go out in public holding my own hand?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:26 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Americans need to stop sexualizing everything. Hand holding need not be viewed as a sex act, for crying out loud.
posted by The World Famous at 10:35 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


women have always had the option of holding hands in public without fear

I would disagree.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:35 AM on July 31, 2009


I've long had an idea for an FPP on heterosexual kissing, especially among the more violent biker gangs (Hell's Angels, etc.) who will kiss (or at least used to) their brothers on the mouth. Unfortunately, online info seems to be too scarce for a post. I bring this up just because it would be great sport to see (for instance) the Phelps family mistakenly calling some Angels gay...
posted by 445supermag at 10:36 AM on July 31, 2009


But when will it be safe for me to go out in public holding my own hand?

or have a woman on each hand?

anyhoo, my first & only trip to Seoul lasted only one day, but seeing all the women there walk in pairs holding hands was a real trip.
posted by @troy at 10:40 AM on July 31, 2009


As a 30-something American male, I'd feel just as weird about holding the hand of a female friend as of a male friend. Probably weirder, actually, since it would carry just a whiff of cheating on my wife.
posted by gurple at 10:42 AM on July 31, 2009


greekphilosophy: So who wants to help the cause, and help me get over my internalized disgust for public affection by holding my hand?

Here you go! Grab on~ :-) We New Englanders need to help each other out.
posted by garnetgirl at 10:45 AM on July 31, 2009


Ooooooh, men holding hands in london... how unusual.

(to quote my ballet teacher: "it is said that 10% of men are gay; in london it's the reverse")
posted by lucia__is__dada at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2009


Americans need to stop sexualizing everything. Hand holding need not be viewed as a sex act, for crying out loud.

Who views it as a sex act? It's an act of love or affection, not sex. Our real problem is that we have people who think that people of the same sex showing affection or love publicly is an offense punishable by beating or worse... and we're not the only ones with this problem.
posted by Huck500 at 10:49 AM on July 31, 2009


I'm as pro-gay rights as any straight male you're likely to find, and I've contributed money, marched and demonstrated for the cause. But I can't do this - the hand-holding thing. It absolutely doesn't bother me when I see others do it, in fact I think it's kind of endearing. But I absolutely cannot do it myself. Does that make me a bigot? Narrow-minded? It's not the supposed sex aspect of it (I don't connect it with sex), but rather the violation of perimeter. You know the guys who stand too close to you at a party? Or simply folks from a different culture, who stand closer than is the norm I'm used to? Yeah, it makes me uncomfortable - and obviously I'm not thinking "danger, sex". Maybe it's a hangup, but it's not one I can overcome for the sake of the cause. So, much as I support everything they propose, I cannot oblige, personally, on this one. I never really thought about it before, but I'm shocked how strong my visceral reaction is. Interesting.
posted by VikingSword at 10:50 AM on July 31, 2009


Who views it as a sex act? It's an act of love or affection, not sex.

It is viewed, in the United States and several other places, as an act of love or affection in the romantic or sexual sense, and not merely of friendship.

Our real problem is that we have people who think that people of the same sex showing affection or love publicly is an offense punishable by beating or worse

Yes, this is a problem. We also have a problem (a much smaller one) where we have people who think that people of the same sex holding hands publicly is a show of romantic love or affection.
posted by The World Famous at 10:54 AM on July 31, 2009


While I'm glad people are protesting homophobia, I'm a little sad that they're using handholding. I miss holding hands with friends on the playground which I used to do when I was little. I remember my friend Samantha had a very squishy hand, and my friend Daniel had very dry hands. I wish handholding didn't have to mean you are having a romantic relationship with someone, as I like the friendly closeness you get from holding hands or linking arms. I guess an optimist would see this as a protest for handholding in general -- that it should be ok for anyone to hold hands no matter the relationship.

I still hold my mother's hand when I'm upset, and she still reaches for my hand when we cross the street together.
posted by bluefly at 10:55 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is always a bubble-popping reality check to be reminded that such innoccuous forms of affection like kissing, embracing, and even hand-holding, are still status-quo disrupting displays in some places when performed by 2 people of the same gender.

On the plus side, any revolution that includes PDAs is OK by me.
posted by Theta States at 10:59 AM on July 31, 2009


waiting for a connecting flight at the airport in nadi, fiji, i watched a big young fijian guy cross the lounge area and get into a very loud and physical argument with a male ticket agent, they were scuffling and cursing but just before punches were thrown, they held hands and stared at the ground for a few moments and that was the end of it. two native guys holding hands in the south pacific means they are good friends.
posted by kitchenrat at 11:02 AM on July 31, 2009


We also have a problem (a much smaller one) where we have people who think that people of the same sex holding hands publicly is a show of romantic love or affection.

What the? Exactly what, pray tell, are the physical acts that are "acceptable" to be viewed of as signs of romantic love or affection? A wink? A kiss? A head on the other person's shoulder?

People WANT non-sleazy signifiers that show the world "Hey, see this person? I LIKE-like this person."

Why is it a problem that holding hands is one of those signifiers for (some) Americans? What harm does it do?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:02 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is it somehow a problem that holding hands is (often) a sign of romantic love and affection? I mean, we're always going to have some kind of cultural signs for that. If we take the romantic aspect out of handholding, it will just shift to something else, and we'll probably not enjoy holding hands with our significant others so much. I guess I just don't quite see how this actually helps anything.
posted by echo target at 11:06 AM on July 31, 2009


Taking a lesson from Iran: so you don't get lost.
posted by acro at 11:08 AM on July 31, 2009


I like the friendly closeness you get from holding hands or linking arms.

As an alternative to my first post, I think same gender hand holding is supporting just that: closeness of friends. Guys get awkward when sitting too close, or at least this is the case in public places like movie theaters, and something like holding hands is exceedingly "teh gay." I get weird looks for skipping, fer chrissake!

Holding hands with friends, or a dude giving another dude a hug: this does not have to be weird or viewed with disdain. Embrace your friends, gay/ bi/ straight/ transgender/ whatnot. Tell your loved ones you love them, even your friends. To love someone does not require you to have romantic or lusty feelings about them. Damned be the English language and social notions about physical limits between friends.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Straight men hold hands in Pakistan all the time. But i grew up in the West, so it's weird to me.
posted by exhilaration at 11:18 AM on July 31, 2009


What the? Exactly what, pray tell, are the physical acts that are "acceptable" to be viewed of as signs of romantic love or affection? A wink? A kiss? A head on the other person's shoulder?

People WANT non-sleazy signifiers that show the world "Hey, see this person? I LIKE-like this person."


In Italy, for example, people hold hands and even kiss on a regular basis in public without any "sign of romantic love or affection." Somehow, Italian society manages to soldier on without having those particular signifiers be exclusive signals of "Hey, see this person? I LIKE-like this person."

I find your whole "what ever shall we do if we cannot signal sexual interest by holding hands?!?" a little weird.
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on July 31, 2009


Yeah, sorry, TWF. I think you're way off base here. How is holding hands (aside from assisting someone in difficulty) not a display of affection? Why else are you holding the other person's hand? For safety? You've lost me.

I think it's great. As VikingSword suggests, men's fear of holding hands with other men is deeply ingrained in many Western societies.

I guess an optimist would see this as a protest for handholding in general -- that it should be ok for anyone to hold hands no matter the relationship.

I think that's the whole point. Affection =! romance. I have vast affection for many of my male friends. I don't want to sex them up, though.

VikingSword, I am curious. Are you also viscerally repulsed by having another person put his arm around your shoulders, as a coach might do to a player? To me, that seems much more invasive than holding hands, yet it does not have the same cultural taboo.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2009


I find your whole "what ever shall we do if we cannot signal sexual interest by holding hands?!?" a little weird.

I don't think it's necessary that we have this particular signifier mean this particular thing, but that's what it means here now, and there doesn't seem to be a good reason to change that. I mean, what's the harm of handholding meaning romance?
posted by echo target at 11:26 AM on July 31, 2009


In Italy, for example, people hold hands and even kiss on a regular basis in public without any "sign of romantic love or affection." Somehow, Italian society manages to soldier on without having those particular signifiers be exclusive signals of "Hey, see this person? I LIKE-like this person."

That's all fine and good, but so totally not my point at all. Are you saying that Italy has NO physical signifiers that express to the outside world that two people are interested in each other? I don't see why their signifiers would be better than handholding.

I find your whole "what ever shall we do if we cannot signal sexual interest by holding hands?!?" a little weird.

Ummmmm, I never said that. I'm not campaigning to change handholding so that it denotes romantic interest. It already means that.

Why is holding hands = romance so awful? That's my only question to you.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you also viscerally repulsed by having another person put his arm around your shoulders, as a coach might do to a player? To me, that seems much more invasive than holding hands, yet it does not have the same cultural taboo.

I'm not crazy about any physical contact, but I guess I'm not repulsed by the arm around shoulders thing - I have a friend who does that, as well as patting on the back thing - as long as it's very brief. And that seems to me key - brief. If anyone (as you say, coach) puts his arm around my shoulders, it's somewhat uncomfortable, yes, but it gets unbearable if he leaves his arm there for longer than a few seconds, and I'd duck away from under that arm. Again - to me there is zero sexual connotation, but more an issue of personal space. Kind of like an animal instinct. I imagine for some animals, it's just not comfortable to have your personal space invaded - no thought of sex at all. The longest I remember having a guy put his arm around my shoulders recently, is when he was very drunk, and slurring and really, I let him hang on, otherwise he'd fall - I marched him across two rooms and deposited him on a couch.
posted by VikingSword at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2009


Yeah, we Americans have a larger personal space than most societies. When I was stationed in Turkey, it took me a while to get accustomed to the cheek-kissing thing, especially with another man...but I eventually got over it enough to fit in, though someone getting that deep into my personal space always made me uneasy. This has nothing to do with sex, homo or hetero, just a privacy and personal space issue for me. It doesn't bother me at all to see other people holding hands or whatever -- hey, it's their lives and their personal spaces and if they don't have a prob with it, there's no reason *I* should.
posted by jamstigator at 11:42 AM on July 31, 2009


Why is holding hands = romance so awful? That's my only question to you.

Because it's nice to be able to show non-sexual affection to people by holding their hand. There is something innately immature and moronic about the Ugly American College Student abroad who sees foreigners holding hands and talking and snickers about it because, you know, "teh ghey." It smacks of the same childishness that makes "gay" a gradeschool playground insult.

Short answer: "Holding hands = Romance" is awful because it is a symptom of American homophobia.
posted by The World Famous at 11:50 AM on July 31, 2009


On the plus side, any revolution that includes PDAs is OK by me.

The Revolution Will Be Blackberryed?
posted by hippybear at 11:57 AM on July 31, 2009



Because it's nice to be able to show non-sexual affection to people by holding their hand. There is something innately immature and moronic about the Ugly American College Student abroad who sees foreigners holding hands and talking and snickers about it because, you know, "teh ghey." It smacks of the same childishness that makes "gay" a gradeschool playground insult.

Short answer: "Holding hands = Romance" is awful because it is a symptom of American homophobia.


Oh, don't be ridiculous. No one's saying Americans should impose their cultural norms regarding hand-holding on other cultures, or that homophobia is good. (That's the shittiest argument ever, by the way. You don't have to be homophobic to see hand-holding as romantic--as this post shows.) It's just that there's a cultural norm like that in America. There isn't anything intrinsically "innocent" or "sexual" about handholding--it's just a gesture that is given meaning by its cultural context. In America, that cultural context is romantic, and that's no better or worse than the Middle Eastern or European context. You're clearly thinking of yourself as some kind of liberated world-traveler type attacking American puritanism, and there's just no good reason to think that here.
posted by nasreddin at 12:00 PM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, don't be ridiculous. No one's saying Americans should impose their cultural norms regarding hand-holding on other cultures, or that homophobia is good.

And I'm not saying that that's what's happening.

That's the shittiest argument ever, by the way. You don't have to be homophobic to see hand-holding as romantic--as this post shows.

I didn't make that argument.

It's just that there's a cultural norm like that in America.

Which I have a problem with.

There isn't anything intrinsically "innocent" or "sexual" about handholding--it's just a gesture that is given meaning by its cultural context.

I agree.

In America, that cultural context is romantic, and that's no better or worse than the Middle Eastern or European context.

In my opinion, the American cultural context is destructive and undesirable and worse than the European one. I cannot speak to the Middle Eastern context, as I am not familiar enough with it.

You're clearly thinking of yourself as some kind of liberated world-traveler type attacking American puritanism, and there's just no good reason to think that here.

Well, I am World Famous, after all.
posted by The World Famous at 12:06 PM on July 31, 2009


Thanks for the insight, VikingSword. That's basically what I figured.

It *is* quite a violation of personal space in the U.S. to have someone take your hand. I suppose that we you always see service professionals guiding people around by placing hands on their backs and pushing them forward (as opposed to grabbing a hand and saying "follow me").
posted by mrgrimm at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2009


On the plus side, any revolution that includes PDAs is OK by me.

The Revolution Will Be Blackberryed?

I'll never forgive the Palm Pilot for popularly co-opting my favourite TLA, Public Displays of Affection.
posted by Theta States at 12:31 PM on July 31, 2009


Who views it as a sex act? It's an act of love or affection, not sex.

Shakespear. Romeo and Juliet. Palm to palm is Holy Palmers Kiss.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, the American cultural context is destructive and undesirable and worse than the European one.

Here's another example: slapping someone on the ass is considered either flirtatious or horribly rude and offensive in most contexts, but in some sports-team contexts it's very different. You could argue that our daily life is less rich and fulfilling because we don't slap asses as a standard greeting, and resolve to slap everyone's ass to show that it can be a completely nonsexual, nondemeaning form of affection, but you'd probably be arrested. Cultural norms aren't inherently good or bad, and until you can show some evidence of harm caused by our lack of nonromantic handholding, there's no reason to think we ought to change it.
posted by echo target at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I'm glad people are protesting homophobia, I'm a little sad that they're using handholding.

It's reclaiming handholding. IMHO, However one sees handholding, it is (at least in Anglo-Saxon societies) seen as sexual/romantic, and two men/women holding hands would be opening themselves to homophobic abuse by the dimmer members of said societies. As such, holding hands with a member of the same sex if one is heterosexual is akin to the King of Denmark wearing a yellow star during the Nazi occupation: a statement saying "if you have a problem with them, you have a problem with me".
posted by acb at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cultural norms aren't inherently good or bad, and until you can show some evidence of harm caused by our lack of nonromantic handholding, there's no reason to think we ought to change it.

I thought my Ugly American College Student In Europe example was a pretty good one. But reasonable people can disagree.
posted by The World Famous at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2009


I thought my Ugly American College Student In Europe example was a pretty good one. But reasonable people can disagree.

I seems weird to me that you would think the problem is with romantic hand-holding rather than with homophobia and Ugly Americanism. I think hand-holding has romantic connotations and am pro-gay. So is my view of hand-holding harmful too?

I had an experience somewhat similar to Ryvar. I don't remember being taught that gay was bad growing up, but I just somehow knew it was. Then I came to New York, saw men holding hands, and had a lightbulb moment. I actually like seeing same-sex hand-holding (which I assume signals a romantic relationship) b/c it means the couple feels comfortable that they are in an accepting place and I am in that place too and it makes me happy.
posted by Mavri at 12:58 PM on July 31, 2009


I seems weird to me that you would think the problem is with romantic hand-holding rather than with homophobia and Ugly Americanism.

Yes, it would be weird if I thought that.

I think hand-holding has romantic connotations and am pro-gay. So is my view of hand-holding harmful too?

In my opinion, yes.

I had an experience somewhat similar to Ryvar. I don't remember being taught that gay was bad growing up, but I just somehow knew it was. Then I came to New York, saw men holding hands, and had a lightbulb moment. I actually like seeing same-sex hand-holding (which I assume signals a romantic relationship) b/c it means the couple feels comfortable that they are in an accepting place and I am in that place too and it makes me happy.

I'm glad it makes you happy, but that paragraph makes no logical sense.
posted by The World Famous at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2009


You may remember me as the only anti-hugger in that hugging thread. (I want to know where you no-contact folks were -- you could have had my back!) I have no problems with PDAs well beyond hand-holding, but prefer that casual contact be minimized.

Also, I can't believe that no one has agreed with gurple yet. I will. But again, that goes to my having no problem with PDAs -- same sex, opposite sex, doesn't matter. But becoming completely casual (and thus nearly socially obligatory), no thanks.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2009


Word Famous, you're pretty long on contradiction and short on explanation. I'm not sure what's you think is wrong with Mavri's paragraph, for starters.
posted by echo target at 1:26 PM on July 31, 2009


Sorry, echo target. Upon reflection, I think the paragraph actually does make sense. Mavri was against homosexuality for no apparent reason, and then that opinion was changed by feeling good. I guess that makes sense.
posted by The World Famous at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2009


Is this not actually The Beatles fault? I mean, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" certainly isn't about a casual friendship...

Still, one happy memory for me was seeing my best friend hold his boyfriend's hand for the first time. I was supportive of him from when he first came out, but that was what solidified in my mind that there was really nothing really different about his relationship than any other. I'm not sure I'd want to take that away. I mean, I LIKE holding-hands being a very mild PDA rather than a PDFriendship.
posted by JMOZ at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2009


In the middle of a flu pandemic? This will piss of both the homophobes and the germaphobes.
posted by rocket88 at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2009


I think hand-holding has romantic connotations and am pro-gay. So is my view of hand-holding harmful too?

In my opinion, yes.


Why?

Short answer: "Holding hands = Romance" is awful because it is a symptom of American homophobia.

The above is the only explanation you've given of why romantic hand-holding is bad, so I have no idea why you think my view of hand-holding is harmful. If you take out the homophobia and the Ugly Americanism, what is the problem?

As for my paragraph, what is hard to understand about what I wrote? Seeing gay people show affection in public caused me to reevaluate the unthinking, knee-jerk homophobia I grew up with. Knowing a gay person (or in my case, being around gay people) is a common trigger for this kind of reevaluation.

And now, it makes me happy when I see gay people who aren't afraid they'll get harassed or beaten up when they express affection for one another in public, because unfortunately, there are a lot of places where that isn't true. On preview, I don't know why you're being so snotty about it. Have I spelled it out sufficiently for you now?
posted by Mavri at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2009


Unless I'm strolling, I don't hold hands with my wife. Just too hard to do the logistics some places. Arm in arm maybe. And most of the guys I know, we're not going to work well holding hands (I run with a beefy crew). But I do kiss my uncles, cousins, etc. On the cheeks or lips or whatever. And it's gotten us into some problems. Usually swiftly remedied though since we don't have anglo names.

"...seen as sexual/romantic, and two men/women holding hands would be opening themselves to homophobic abuse by the dimmer members of said societies."

Seen that myself. On Halsted St. (Chicago) no less. Some goofs laughing at two guys holding hands, called them 'fags' or whatever. My wife and I (and some others) berated the hell out of those idiots. I mean, yeah, just dumb in the first place. But where we were at in the city is colloquially known as 'boystown.' It's like walking around Little Village (La Villita) and telling people to "speak English wetbacks!" You're just asking for a beating being *that* f'ing stupid.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:50 PM on July 31, 2009


Providing another data point, I've spent a measurable amount of time in public holding my sister's hand, and I'm always amazed when we get catcalls. It's one thing if your stereotype/default assumption is: holding hands = romance, but it always amazed me when that preconception was enough to overcome all other signals.

I'm 4 years older than my sister and we look very similar, complete with the "siblings" cue that I'm about 3 inches taller. On a number of occasions, in major east coast cities, I'd get catcalls commenting on our lesbian relationship when we were walking, holding hands, within feet of our parents. You couldn't have described a better caricature of the nuclear family, but hand-holding overwhelmed any other perception.

It was always laughable -- but also a little confusing. Did people understand the real relationship and just take the opportunity for a joke, or is it really that strong of a signifier? (FWIW, we look enough alike that there are one or two pictures of us from this late teens, early twenties time period where I have to look very carefully to figure out if it is her or me.)

Anyway, yeah, I think that more hand-holding is good, both as a direct challenge to homophobia, but also as a larger issue, to encourage a little less worry/judgment about the relationships of the people around us.
posted by mercredi at 1:57 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, what I should have said is that while women holding one another's hands, especially if they're giving off a non-straight-porno-fantasy dyke vibe, can indeed be risky. But being two men holding hands can get you murdered. Easily.

I live in a city not renowned for being gay friendly and I see women holding hands ALL. THE. TIME. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen men doing it. I almost never see it even in Vancouver, for fuck's sake. It's DANGEROUS.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:45 PM on July 31, 2009


Ya'll can just keep yer germy, booger-covered, swine flu-vectors to yerselves, thank you very much.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2009


Short answer: "Holding hands = Romance" is awful because it is a symptom of American homophobia.

That's ridiculously stupid. I don't see any connection there. If I see a man and a woman holding hands in America, I assume they're a couple. Whats the connection with homophobia? I realize that many countries do it differently, but who cares? There's no moral issue here either way. Just like I don't care whether people use handshakes, cheek-kissing, or bowing when meeting people. Different cultures have different rituals and meanings associated with these acts, but there is zero connection to homophobia and hand-holding in America, or we would view it differently when it's a man and a woman. We don't, it's always a romantic thing unless you're talking about children or maybe the elderly (as someone upthread mentioned).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:04 PM on July 31, 2009


That's ridiculously stupid. I don't see any connection there.

I guess I should have left it at the long answer instead of simplifying. But I'm ridiculously stupid, so of course I would make that mistake. Since you don't see a connection, there must not be one.

There's no moral issue here either way.

I'm not sure what you mean by "moral," but I'll agree with you, assuming a commonly-understood meaning of the term.

Different cultures have different rituals and meanings associated with these acts, but there is zero connection to homophobia and hand-holding in America, or we would view it differently when it's a man and a woman.

I respectfully disagree.
posted by The World Famous at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2009


women have always had the option of holding hands in public without fear

Nope. I remember being in high school and walking from a parking lot into a store with my mom. We'd been having a great day shopping and bonding, and I reached out to hold her hand. She pulled away, saying, "People might think something about us." She wasn't joking.

My mother. Not a friend my age, or a romantic partner even. My mom didn't want people in the rural state where I lived to think we were romantically linked - via hand holding.
posted by custardfairy at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, the American cultural context is destructive and undesirable and worse than the European one.

Isn't that somewhat orthogonal, at best, to a discussion of an event taking place in London, England?

Also, apparently gay and heterosexual people are welcome to hold hands, but us bisexuals should be throwing gang signs or something.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:25 PM on July 31, 2009


Also, apparently gay and heterosexual people are welcome to hold hands, but us bisexuals should be throwing gang signs or something.

Based on reading this thread, I'd say even those amongst us who could possibly pass anonymously within the larger culture as having one sexual preference or another, despite having a universal sexual interest in both genders, are as fucked as those whose natural proclivities cause them to choose sexual interest in one gender over another.
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on July 31, 2009


Just make sure not to do it in Mormon-land.
posted by flug at 3:34 PM on July 31, 2009


I'm holding someones hand right now. I don't know whether it's same-sex since it's no longer attached to a person. Can I join in.

What?
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


...which brings to mind this little gem.
posted by hippybear at 6:35 PM on July 31, 2009


I guess I should have left it at the long answer instead of simplifying. But I'm ridiculously stupid, so of course I would make that mistake. Since you don't see a connection, there must not be one.

Well, actually I said the idea/comment was stupid, not you.

But what I still don't see is how you can make an objective determination that the cultural context in America is worse than that elsewhere. Or how you can relate that to homosexuality, given that the handholding = romance thing is utterly pervasive in heterosexual culture in America and has been for a long time.

Your view seems just as biased as that you're complaining about, since there's no objective standard of how we should view handholding.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:49 PM on July 31, 2009


it's pretty common in saudi arabia :P that is all!
posted by kliuless at 6:12 AM on August 1, 2009


I actually think more-repressed cultures tend to have more-open norms of same-sex hand-holding. In places like Saudi Arabia, male friends hold hands without discomfort because the possibility of homosexual couples publicly displaying affection is so remote that there is no plausible suggestion of teh gay. As America has become less conservative about homosexuality, public displays of homosocial affection have become more fraught because they raise the realistic possibility of homosexual love. Thesis: it's only in those societies where homosexuality is relatively in the open that straight men feel they have to defend themselves against accusations of gayness.

Presumably there's a u-shaped curve, and as a society gets even more liberal and accepting, hand-holding is practiced without stigma because homosexuality has lost its stigma.

(apologies if I'm redundant; been skimming)
posted by grobstein at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2009


to quote my ballet teacher: "it is said that 10% of men are gay; in london it's the reverse"

In london 10% of gay are men?
posted by Mike1024 at 10:19 AM on August 2, 2009


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