Being an ally requires action. After a gay couple in the Netherlands was allegedly attacked over the weekend while walking home hand in hand, straight men are holding hands to combat homophobia and to stand in solidarity with the men who were allegedly attacked.
As reported by the NLTimes, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and his husband Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes claimed they were on their way home from a party holding hands when a group of young men allegedly began verbally assaulting them, yelling homophobic slurs. The group then allegedly beat the couple, resulting in injuries that include bruised ribs and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes losing multiple teeth after being struck with a bolt cutter. Four of the alleged attackers are now in custody.
The couple tells NOS, “We don’t usually do that, holding hands in public, for the very reason that we don’t want to provoke people. But we’d had a nice evening, it was late and we thought we were alone.” It’s horrifying to see something so hateful in response to a gesture as simple and far from “provoking” as holding hands. Men across the Netherlands agree and are taking matters into their own hands by simply holding them.
It began with Alexander Pechtold and Wouter Koolmees, two Dutch politicians who walked hand in hand on their way to a government meeting on Monday. Pechtold tweeted a picture of himself and Koolmes holding hands with the caption, "Stop violence against gays.” The tweet included the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand, which translates to "all men, hand in hand."
Pechtold told Dutch News, “We think it is quite normal in the Netherlands to express who you are.” This inspired men across the country to show similar gestures of solidarity. From politicians to athletes, men are standing up, holding hands, and saying “enough is enough.”
The Netherlands isn't the only place taking a stance. Men across the world are showing solidarity, sharing pictures of themselves walking and holding hands.
In New York, male colleagues of the Netherlands at UN took part in the movement, walking across New York hand in hand.
Players in the N.E.C, a Dutch soccer club, tweeted the photo below with a caption that roughly translates to "N.E.C. turns their backs to anti-gay violence."
LGBTQ hate crimes are disturbingly common. From last year’s shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub to the at least eight trans women who have been killed so far in 2017, the number of hate crimes that target people who are LGBTQ is shocking. Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are happening at 8.3 times the rate one would expect based on the size of the LGBTQ population. According to FiveThirtyEight, roughly half of those hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people are specifically against gay men.
Societal perception still needs to shift for LGBTQ people to feel and be safe. That’s why men holding hands in the Netherlands and across the world matters; it shows solidarity while combatting toxic masculinity. The gesture is simple but important, and a step toward a better future, one we should all take hand in hand.