Showing Some Love.

At Colorlines (which has become one of my go-to sources for news, and it should be one of yours), Jamilah King posts about the backlash to this picture of two young men. She quotes Rod 2.0, who writes:

The image was snapped of two young men apparently on Atlanta’s MARTA and the Twitpic is entitled “No Excuse: I Don’t Give a F-ck How Sleepy You Are.” So far, the image has 12,400+ views and has produced three pages of mostly cruel, homophobic and hateful comments. There are dozens more comments across Twitter and the Twitpic has migrated to gay-baiting black gossip blogs. One perennial gay-baiting blogger has slammed the two young men as “homo-thugs”, ranted about HIV/AIDS and complained that “it’s become nearly impossible to distinguish heterosexual men from down low thugs.” Are “down-low” thugs hugged up on public transit? Probably not …

Rod’s (very valid) point aside, my first reaction was that this image is totally sweet. It’s not clear whether this is filial affection or romantic, but either way, two people showing love is always a good look in my book.

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  • On one of the rare occasions I was allowed out with school friends, we encountered an almost identical (!) scene with two brothers and like most stupid junior high schoolers, gay jokes and giggles commenced…and then we realized they actually WERE brothers, when their exhausted Mother came back to them and said to the more alert one, “Thank you for looking out for your brother.” We grew quiet, and those of us who were raised decently blushed furiously, especially when it became clear that the “sleepy” one was disabled. It was a powerful, early reminder not to assume, or judge.

    Two years later, I went to India and saw grown men holding hands or walking with their arms around each other. It’s just part of the culture. If only the simple act of displaying affection outside of a conventionally-attractive, heterosexual pairing were as easily accepted as part of *our* culture. It’s pathetic and tragic that we’re more comfortable with a visual of violence.

  • Paula

    There’s no excuse for the homophobia that exists in many parts of both the developed and the developing world, but it really does seem like the US is unique in its inability to tolerate any of display of affection between men that goes beyond a handshake or a thump on the back. We even have words for it: “bro-hugs”, and the like, in order do distinguish it from what might be deemed unmanly displays.

  • Sweet and, sad to say, brave.

    • Kiana

      “Brave” was my first thought too, and that makes me incredibly sad.

  • “two people showing love is always a good look in my book.”


  • Benjamin

    If they are on the dl, wouldn’t they by definition not be hugging in public?

  • Ulysses Not Yet Home

    Virtually ALL homophobia is simply homosexuality hiding from itself. If you don’t have homosexual friends, family, acquaintances, co workers, etc (uhh, and you do), HOW can you have “issues” with how they conduct their lives. Ostensibly you don’t know, see or encounter gay people. What is your thought process concerning other people in your community that you neither see or encounter? The answer is, you have none. No thought or opinion at all. You don’t pass propositions to restrict the marriage of other groups of people you don’t have any contact with do you? How do you even propose conceptually to regulate the marriage of strangers?

    The homophobes react as they do because permitting LBGT social equality allows it to be seen. And being seen, and being seen as human, on a day to day basis, has the potential to bring THEM one step closer to that moment when they have to confront that undeniable truth about themselves. They don’t realize that the only reason they need to hide, the only reason they fear exposing themselves, TO THEMSELVES, is BECAUSE of the homophobic society which deems it unacceptable. Opposition to gay marriage is the gayest shit ever. The list of gay, anti gay crusaders is too long and too sad to recount here. Look at what misery this nonsensical belief has manifest. It’s okay, find a guy – fall in love…

  • storm

    Homo love or hetero love? I say, what does it matter. I am just pleased to see two black men courageous (Yes, courageous…they would have to be to risk a display of affection in public) putting down their armour to show affection with each other. That is a real and beautiful thing.

  • Huh. I completely missed this (the pic and subsequent homophobic bullshit) so thanks for sharing it. I couldn’t add anything that hasn’t been said very well already–but a few of the comments here made me raise an eyebrow and maybe deserve teasing out.

    I’m uncomfortable with the the generalizations @suitablegirl and @Paula employ re: “our” culture and the “developing world”. There are a lot of ethnic subcultures in the United States and not all of them police displays of affection between men so rigidly. Many of the peoples that originate in the “developing world” (a loaded term by which I assume you mean Africa, Asia, and the Middle East) approve such behavior between men. Of course it is also true that there is dangerous homophobic violence in those parts of the world–just as there is here–but the relationships between “masculinity” and expressions of affection between men aren’t nearly so narrow.

    I have no idea if the two guys in the photo are lovers or blood family–and I don’t much care either way. But the fact that so many people have such an immediate, negative reaction to this innocent image is very alien to me: I’m an Arab, we hug. As a kid I tried to shake my Uncle Amile’s hand and he was incredulous. “You shake hands with a stranger–ME, you hug!”, he said. And he laughed and gave me a huge bearhug. I never forgot the message. So when I say goodbye to most of my best friends, many of whom who are “developing world”-derived Swarthy Bastards like me, we hug each other. And not that bullshit, A-frame, crossed-arm, clenched-fist hip-hop hug either. My friend Chris, who is Sicilian, even kisses me on the cheek. So there ya go. Run and hide America.

    My point is: while the over-reaction of so many to this pic is dumb and sad it isn’t okay to generalize their disdain across “our” entire culture or pull the–ugh–“developing world” into a critique of it.