Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Feeling Baffled

So I have this friend. He is straight (or at least claims to be - I'm still not so sure, but that is beside the point). On the night of July 4th, he and his roommate (whose sexuality I am unaware of (but again, it's beside the point)) were walking together in Liberty Park in the Salt Lake area holding hands. They were not holding hands to make a statement (at least, my friend claims it was not for that reason) nor are they romantically involved in any way nor do I think they were doing it as a joke. They were just holding hands.

Anyway, they walked by a woman who scolded them with a "Follow the prophet!" Next a man chided them, saying, "Hey, you dropped your purse!" and teasing them about wearing high heels (which they weren't).

My friend was confused about why these people felt the need to chastise him and his roommate or to belittle and tease them. They were simply enjoying the July 4th festivities and their hand-holding wasn't causing any harm to anyone around them.

My friend said, "First of all, since I'm not gay, these people made assumptions about me that aren't true, and secondly, even if they were true, why did they feel the need to belittle us? If we had been a guy and a girl, no one would have thought twice about it or made any rude remarks."

My friend went on to say that in many cultures it is perfectly normal for two men to hold hands or show affection for one another in ways that might be deemed as odd or inappropriate in other cultures.

As I heard my friend tell this story, I wondered, "Why is it so hard for some people to 'live and let live?'" Look, even if one thinks it's wrong for two guys to be holding hands and enjoying time together, do these people really think that making rude, stereotypical remarks about those guys' sexuality or telling them to "follow [a] prophet" they might not even believe in or have any connection to is helpful or needful?

Whether my friend is gay or straight, was his holding the hand of another man causing any harm or injury to the people around him? Isn't holding a hand an act of affection or love? Is that such a negative, terrible thing?

And what impression did those people leave my friend? The first was self-righteous and probably made my friend (who grew up in the LDS Church, but is no longer active) feel even less connected to that religion. The second was an ignorant bigot and treated my friend and his roommate in a contemptible and mocking way? Do these people think such actions are endearing?

Why are people so offended by two people of the same sex doing nothing more than holding hands? I'm even quite sure that if my friend and his roommate had been two girls, they would not have been treated that way. What is so threatening about two guys holding hands?

I find some people baffling. Things like this truly confuse me. I think it's sad.

Even if one thinks homosexual behavior is wrong (and I would argue that two men holding hands does not necessarily imply that they are gay), what is there about two men holding hands that is so offensive?

I do not understand people sometimes.


Beck said...

My experience: When in France or Italy, men walking with arms interlocked as friends is so common it just seems natural. It's a beautiful thing and everyone thinks so. When in Southern India, men holding hands as friends is also so natural. It's a beautiful thing and everyone thinks so. When in Liberty Park in SLC, the same expression among friends is a sin, and "everyone" thinks so...

I was with a European friend last week walking through SLC arm-in-arm. I didn't care what anyone thought because, it was a beautiful thing!

J G-W said...


Skyler said...

In my mind I find it hard to believe someone would say "follow the prophet" but at the same time I have met some very distasteful people from all walks of life and cultures.

Hello, I am active LDS I support Gay rights along with The Chruch and many others. I am glad that you have done so well at documenting your experience and I hope you continue to do so. Although there are occasional people who make the LDS church look bad and that they hate gays, but you and I know that is not true, that is not what we believe. Love, its what Jesus taught.
He has given specific commandments for specific purposes and those are to be encouraged, through love, not hate or judgement.

I just wanted to say Thank You,