In the early hours of Sunday morning, two young gay men were brutally attacked in the Dutch city of Arnhem. Five teenage boys and one 21 year old have been arrested in connection with the attack which left the two men with multiple injuries. In response to the attack two members of the Dutch Parliament (above, centre image) decided as they arrived at the Hague, to enter holding hands as a show of support for the gay couple and a protest against anti-gay violence.

From there, a Dutch journalist Barbara Barend tweeted out a call for all men in the Netherlands to take up the cause and hold hands in the street as a public show of support and well, it worked. All over the Netherlands the hashtag #allmennenhandinhand was being shared with images of men, straight, gay or whatever holding hands as they walk down the street, on tv or just going about their business. I think it’s brilliant. We as a society are still confused by men showing affecting in a non-sexual way. We may be getting better with gay rights and acceptance but as soon as straight men, or men not romantically involved show affection people are uncomfortable. In Arab, Asian, African and other cultures it’s not unusual for men to hold hands as a sign of friendship. In our Western cultures we look at that with generations of conditioned thought projected onto it and believe it’s “gay”. It’s not.

Thankfully we are changing. Two weeks ago I had lunch with a gay couple and a straight couple. The straight guy insisted on a hug and a kiss on the cheek when we were leaving. Not in that jokey way that some straight guys do but just because he is damn comfortable with it. Exactly as it should be.

So gents, go out there and hold hands!