Same sex hand-holding is the gentle yet powerful initiative that Manchester’s LGBT community is hosting later this week to stand in solidarity with people in Russia.
Shocking footage obtained by human rights organisations in the run up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics reveal that widespread violence has been targeted at people because of their sexuality.
In light of this, and legislation restricting gay rights, Manchester’s Canal Street will host its own alternative opening ceremony this Friday that will set the tone for a month-long series of events organised by Pride House Manchester throughout February.
Being stylised online as #SSHHI, Friday’s event will see a circle formed of people holding hands around the village in the hope of sending a clear message of support and unity Russia’s LGBT community.
Channel 4’s Dispatches will be showing documentary Hunted tonight which reveals the terror gay people are experiencing in Russia.
Iain Scott manager of Canal Street’s Taurus Bar, is part of the team behind Pride House Manchester, said that the city is lucky to have such a thriving and inclusive community.
He said: “A lot of countries including Russia haven’t got what we’ve got here in Manchester and in that sense it’s unique.
“The kind of LGBT groups we have here just do not exist in other cities.
“I think it’s important to remind the people who use the gay village every week, actually just what they’ve got – particularly younger people who enjoy it as a complete rite of passage and the fact is that it’s unique in many respects.”
For those who want to take part, but can’t make it to the event, are being invited to upload a picture of themselves to Facebook, Twitter or Intsgram holding hands with their partner, a same sex friend, work mate or stranger using the #SSHHI and #pridehousemcr hashtags.
ONLINE SUPPORT: Musician Sam Dickinson and partner
Iain added: “It’s going to be a very visual experience and there has to be a visual element to it because you can’t really just describe same-sex hand-holding, you’ve got to see it en-masse to get the whole point of it.
“We’re just saying we’re here, we have all of these freedoms and we’re thinking about you. So it’s a message of support.”
People have already been getting involved with the Twitter campaign for a few months after originally being set up by Pride House International back in August 2013.
Newcastle singer-songwriter Sam Dickinson posted his support yesterday with a photo, telling Mancunian Matters: “We decided to take part in #SSHHI because while we may live in an accepting society in the UK, there are countless people around the globe who do not have the freedom to do this without fearing for their lives.
“Campaigns such as this really do remind the general public that everything is not yet equal and until it is I hope to see more positive campaigns such as this.”
You can find out more about the alternative opening ceremony this Friday by visiting pridehousemcr.com
Featured image courtesy of Lynn Friedman via Flickr, with thanks