Sunday, July 31, 2016

What If They'd Been Holding Hands?

I saw a very inspirational video posted of a Muslim boy and a Jewish boy walking together as a social experiment. First they are shown walking in a Jewish neighborhood, then a Muslim neighborhood, and then a diverse neighborhood. Reactions were mainly positive, but slightly mixed. A few people took photos, hopefully to share out as a positive message.

When I first began to watch it, the boys were so close that I thought they were being portrayed as a couple; I thought they were holding hands. But it turns out they're just walking together. I love this video and videos like it, but I can't help but wonder, what if they'd been holding hands?

It's interesting the dimensions of potential hate and prejudice that can be layered onto any situation. Just the change in venue is sufficient to make a person wonder "Oh, yes, what will happen in this group?" I know that while I watched, I was anxiously waiting for negative reactions, but relieved and inspired to see the positive ones. My feelings when the person in the diverse neighborhood called out the Muslim boy were angry.

It's hard to say how many reactions might have been edited out. It's hard to say how many positive people might have reacted differently if they'd been surrounded by a more bigoted crowd. For example, if I'm in the company of a prejudiced family, will I speak out or give them a thumbs up, or be more reserve due to the people around me?

In the end, with both religions having often negative views of homosexuality, I would anticipate a more negative reaction in the religious neighborhoods, but then, I might find myself again happily surprised to see more support than I expected--which would be awesome.

I do know that if I were one of they young men in the experiment, I'd feel more apprehensive about doing this experiment as a gay couple in those neighborhoods, but I wonder if it would be justified or demonstrated to be unjustified once the feedback was in?

-MK

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