He grabbed my hand and held it

From my fieldnotes (Kampala, 2015).

holding-hands_1_1340_c

While we were going to meet someone in town, ███ and I had to walk through some of Kampala’s busiest streets. ███ is tall, wearing a plaid button down, of medium build, and identifies (as far as I know) as a straight Ugandan male.

But at several points on our journey into Kampala City he reached out, grabbed my hand, and held it. The cars and bodas zoomed past us as we walked the streets holding hands.

And no one turned to stare.

I know that it is common for two male friends to hold hands and I have always been fascinated by this social interaction that I see all the time in Kampala.

But it was the first time someone did this with me — and it became clear that it can be a form of both safety and communication. ███ wanted to ensure that I knew when he started walking across the street, so that I too walked with him.

This raises the question: Is holding hands with the same sex queer? In an American context it might be. In the context of Uganda, apparently not.

I found an interesting article exploring the topic: “Is holding hands in public gay?

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