The RadCam was surrounded by a ring of hand holding students last Saturday to make a stand against homophobic objections to same sex hand-holding.
LGBT officer for OUSU Katie Colliver said: “Same-sex hand-holding is a quiet resistance, a small act of defiance that speaks volumes.”
The event, Same Sex Hand-holding (SSHH) was organised by RAG and OUSU as part of Queer History Month in support of equal rights. The Month is an annual event that aims to recognise the lives and achievements of the LGBT community, and celebrates the diversity of the LGBT community and that of the society as a whole.
Colliver said that people started gathering outside the RadCam from mid afternoon, “At first the crowd looked small and some of us were worried that the dull weather might have put people off”. However, during the course of the afternoon enough people gathered to form an entire circle around the Camera.
Radhika Goyal, one of the main organisers of the event from RAG, said: “It was a success, and we hope to have it next year too to spread a positive message about feeling comfortable with expressing one’s sexuality in public.”
The event was also in aid of Helen & Douglas House, a children’s hospice charity. Vice President of RAG Charlotte Flowers said: “It was great to support such a good cause again, especially during Queer History month, and coupled with our Raid for Helen and Douglas House, we had a very successful day!”
“A lot of passers by stopped to ask questions and see what we were doing, and with lots of tourists milling around I think we created some really good awareness about the taboo surrounding homosexuality, and our stand against it.”
The circle stood intact for around twenty minutes. During that time several Mexican waves were sent round and whispers of “sshh” as well as hand squeezes being transmitted along the circumference.
Colliver said that she was “really proud” of the event’s success, but was keen to emphasise the serious underlying impetus for the event: “Same-sex hand-holding might seem like just a bit of fun, but the reason for doing it is far more serious. In law, homophobia is not permitted in the U.K. and many of us like to tell ourselves that it is no longer a problem… Unfortunately, our society is not as tolerant as we might think.”
Colliver highlighted the importance of raising awareness for students, stating: “in the past year, students in Oxford have been subject to homophobic abuse and even attack.” She continued: “This makes people live in fear of expressing who they are, and making those small demonstrations of affection that straight couples often get to take for granted.”
She went to emphasise the message of the event: “We will not be cowed by bigoted behaviour, we reclaim the right for everyone to live in peace and love with pride.”