I was shocked to read earlier this month that the LGBTQ community were planning a ‘kiss-in’ at a north-west London branch of Sainsbury’s, but not for the reason many people may assume. I was not upset or angered that the ‘kiss-in’ was being led by the LGBTQ community but rather the reason for the protest that had me incensed. It seemed preposterous to me that two men were asked to stop holding hands by a security guard due to complaints by a fellow shopper. In my view, Sainsbury’s attempt at apologising for their offence, in the form of £10 voucher of compensation, only added insult to injury.
I wondered what this act of bigotry says about the society we live in. It’s no surprise to me that there is stigma around the issue of sexual orientation but my shock at one woman’s reaction to hand holding made me question my naivete. Was she really offended by hand holding? What motivated her to make a complaint that two young men were acting inappropriately? Hand holding is hardly an offensive action. If I were to consider what is the most neutral, the most innocent form of PDA then hand holding would come out trumps. It’s not as if same sex couples were making out and groping each other in the aisles. Just to be clear here, I would take issue with this happening between any partners, straight or no. But would I complain about it? Probably not. I don’t particularly want to see it wherever I go but if on occasion I catch sight of an inappropriate touch, so what? If I don’t like it, I can lump it – or at least look in the other direction.
At the end of the day I’d rather people were holding hands then flipping a finger. Whispering sweet nothings to your significant other even when others may overhear is preferable to yelling abuse. We should be making love not war which is why I was thrilled to read that the LGBTQ community had used a peaceful form of protest in the form of a kiss-in. To my mind they used romance to combat stigma rather than letting this issue escalate into something more harmful. They brought people together rather than tearing them apart. To end this admittedly not very long post I’d like to remind us all of one of my favourite sayings. As Debbie Novotny said in QAF (Queer as Folk) “It’s not who you love, it’s how you love”. This is what I’d like our society to remember, this is what I want our children to believe growing up. Love should be free regardless of what genitalia you posses, whether the same or different to your partner.