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Holding hands makes LGBTQIA+ people feel happy, accepted and visible, study finds

In partnership with Pride Wide and Barefoot Wine

By Dale Fox

Composite image: Two men hold hands while holding rainbow coloured umbrellas with a small dog standing at their feet; The same two men sit on a bench in a park holding hands with a bottle of wine between them
Married couple Adam Johnson (left) and Dan Mackey (Image: Provided)

Hand-holding is a simple gesture most couples take for granted. Now, a new study has shown how important it is for LGBTQIA+ people to hold hands and that it’s not always easy for them to do so.

New research by campaigning organisation Pride Wide and drinks brand Barefoot Wine reveals the majority of LGBTQIA+ people in the UK feel happier and more visible when they hold hands with their partners in public. However, two-thirds admitted avoiding hand-holding for fear of harassment or attack.

The survey of more than 1,000 LGBTQIA+ people found hand-holding makes 84% happier, with similar numbers saying it boosts feelings of love and connection. Nearly half reported increased pride and visibility. But a third felt self-conscious, and nearly a quarter said they felt unsafe holding hands in public.

“A worrying number of LGBTQIA+ people sometimes have to question whether they should hold someone’s hand” – Pride Wide

Scott Nunn, co-founder and creative director of Pride Wide, the global non-profit behind the research, said: “Hand-holding is as old as humanity itself and is something many people don’t think twice about. But a worrying number of LGBTQIA+ people sometimes have to question whether they should hold someone’s hand.”

Calling for a Britain where all can hold hands without fear, Scott added: “Our survey gives new insights into why holding hands is so important and we will use the results to promote acceptance.”

Silva Neves, a psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist, explains hand-holding reduces stress hormones while increasing bonding chemicals like oxytocin. This mood boost combats isolation.

But he cautioned that for marginalised groups like LGBTQIA+ people, hand-holding “can have the reverse effect if not in a safe space.”

“Holding hands makes me feel loved and proud” – Michael Chakravarty

Pride Wide and Barefoot Wine have joined forces to promote hand-holding among LGBTQIA+ people in the UK.

Talking about the campaign on Instagram, Great British Bake Off star Michael Chakravarty said: “Holding hands makes me feel loved and proud. There’s nothing I love more than seeing other LGBTQIA+ people holding hands out and about. It’s the little things that add up to the bigger picture of everyone feeling seen, safe, and happy.”

“Holding hands a great form of non-verbal communications” – Aidy Smith

Supporting the campaign on Instagram, TV presenter Aidy Smith also highlighted the psychological benefits of hand-holding: “Sometimes we want to spend time with someone but just not talk – holding hands a great form of non-verbal communications. It promotes an emotional bond between individuals and gives us a sense of togetherness.”

Meanwhile, The Great Pottery Throw Down star Adam Johnson and his husband Dan Mackey shared their views.

“As a gay couple it’s not always as simple as showing affection when you feel like it, so this little act can sometimes feel like a big deal,” the pair wrote on Instagram. “We believe that the more we hold hands in public the more normalised it can be.”

“No one should be afraid of holding hands” – Barefoot Wine

As a long-term supporter of LGBTQIA+ equality, Barefoot Wine partnered with Pride Wide to commission the research. A spokesperson for the brand said: “No one should be afraid of holding hands. We hope to promote positivity and acceptance in the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.”

Two smiling men sit on a bench holding hands outdoors with a bottle of Barefoot Wine on the bench
“We believe that the more we hold hands in public the more normalised it can be” (Image: Provided)

Detailed findings from the survey of LGBTQIA+ people living in Britain include:

● 85% want greater visibility of same-sex hand-holding, with 87% saying it makes them happy to witness it

● As well as happiness, connection and pride, 51% reported feeling loved and 48% validated when holding hands

● But 33% also experienced self-consciousness, 30% anxiety and 23% lack of safety

● Two-thirds had avoided hand-holding over the previous 12 months fearing harassment

● 78% smile on seeing other LGBTQIA+ couples holding hands, a gesture 43% found validating

Pride Wide plans to utilise these survey insights in its campaigns for complete freedom, equality, visibility, inclusion, health and happiness among LGBTQIA+ communities globally.

And Barefoot wine is committed to spreading inclusivity, diversity, and love in the world of wine and beyond.