ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

28. Speaking of Manliness

illustration with two men holding hands

In India, it is not rare to see two men hugging or holding hands on the street. On the contrary, it’s really uncommon to witness signals of affection between a man and a woman. They are not supposed to kiss in public.

 

In India, it is not rare to see two men hugging or holding hands. On the contrary, it’s really uncommon to witness signals of affection between a man and a woman. They are not supposed to kiss in the streets.

Indian streets are full of men holding hands... and prejudice against homosexuals. Until 2009 homosexuality was a punishable offence! So: what’s up with India? Is it another of her many contradictions? No.
Exchanging signs of affection between people of the same gender does not mean you are homosexual. Only we, from western countries, think this way.
If you are a man, don’t get scared if your new Indian friend wants to hold your hand, or puts his on your knee. It is most certainly an innocent way to show affection. He is probably telling you that he cares. In any case, do not haste to the conclusion: he might be not gay.
If you are a woman… Give up to the fact that your boyfriend in India looks “more boyfriend” to his friend than to you!


Each culture has its way to see the world. We, Italians, hot-tempered and hot-blooded, are usually inclined to eye and body contact. They are, for us, perfect means of expression. Indians have that “nearness” inclination as well, since they are forced to share their space with millions of people, every single day. At the same time there are several social rules that forbid body contact between a man and a woman. Since they are very young, boys and girls are held separated and the gap gets bigger with the passage of time.
Body contact between a man and a woman is allowed after the arrangement of a marriage, and only at home and far from people’s sight.

The natural need of body contact finds its way out between friends of the same gender. So, a man with big moustache might be holding hand with his friend and there’s no harm or social offence at all in that behavior. The same goes for women: maybe between men it is more evident because you will find more men than women on the street. Or maybe because even there, in Europe, two young girls can hold their hands without prejudice.


If you are used to the Indian rural life, you might feel a bit sanctimonious when you visit Mumbai or Bangalore; in fact, it is not uncommon to see a man and a woman hugging there. In the big cities the social rules are less dominant, and boys and girls can form groups. But even there the freedom of love expression between people of the same gender endures the trial of time and maybe, who knows, it will eventually get better.

 

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