Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hold hands with Brian Paddick

No, not literally, but former Lib Dem mayoral candidate and newbie celeb Brian Paddick is using his fame to launch a new campaign aiming to encourage LGBT couples to hold hands in public.

There is a serious point here. I've always been able to walk down the street hand in hand with the person I love with confidence so why shouldn't anybody and everybody else?

I do understand what it is like to come up against irrational and unpleasant prejudice, though. When my daughter was 4 months old, I was nursing her in the tea room in the village we lived in at the time. The waitress, much to my embarrassment, yelled at me, across the room, to stop in case a man came in. This is a place where they had the likes of the Sun and the Mirror in which any man would see much more of a breast than he ever would from me feeding my baby. I felt absolutely mortified, tearful and pretty wretched. I didn't stop, willing her to throw me out, though. A group of elderly tourists, including men, funnily enough, came in and a couple of the women actually made some very positive comments about what I was doing, and asked me about my baby and cooed over her in the way people do, which made me feel a lot better.

The next day, after I'd calmed down, I wrote a letter to the tea room setting out why I felt they were wrong and exactly how they made me feel. I got a letter back from the woman concerned who basically said she was trying to spare my embarrassment. Cheek.

I suppose the point is that you can have all the equalities legislation in the world, but if people don't feel comfortable to be themselves when they're out and about, it doesn't mean anything. It's important to have the protection of the law where it's needed - and that's why it's good that there will be a right to breastfeed enshrined in law in the new Equalities Bill - but that's only half the story.

Brian's campaign aims not just to give LGBT couples the confidence to do what the rest of us take for granted, but also to get the rest of us used to seeing same sex couples together. If you aren't used to seeing something it can come as a shock. I remember the first time I saw someone breastfeed a toddler when I had a tiny baby. While I would never in a million years have been so rude as to pass comment or make the mother feel uncomfortabie, I actually had no idea that you could, for a start. Never did I think I'd be in the same situation, and that mother played a big part in making me realise that it was all fine.

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Meral Hussein Ece said...

Interesting - in Turkey, not a country known for its tolerance, men, straight and gay, go out together holding hands. Its very common to see men arm in arm walking around, and no-one bats an eyelid.

Unknown said...

Thanks for that, Meral. I've noticed that before, in African cultures as well, and even in Europe, that it's quite common for men to kiss each other socially. It's just not something that we Brits are used to - we can be very socially reserved and set in our ways.

Stephen Glenn said...

Yeah Merel it one refreshing thing about Turkish culture.

Also in the Ukraine the men of all sexual persuasions are not averse to greating each other with a kiss. Not a peck but square on the lips. Although to be fair when a full bearded Orthodox monk greats you in this way is could put you way back into the closet for years.

A Day In Hand said...

Good article. Thanks for covering us. Pleas register with our website http://www.adayinhand.com

Brian contributed to the campaign in a photoshoot but he is not heading the campaign. slight press misinformation.

Keep hand holding everybody!

David Watkins
A Day In Hand


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