March 21, 2014

Why the Video of Strangers Hugging Warms My Heart.

first gay hug intro youtube

Last week the video “First Kiss,” a lovely short film that shows how awkward nervousness can quickly turn to passion (or at least friendship) when two strangers are asked to kiss on film for the first time, stormed the Internet.

I wrote about it and got a little flack when I said that it didn’t really do it for me and that after watching it, I longed for something deeper.

Well, I got it!

It seems that “First Kiss” has spawned a bit of a meme and I absolutely love it. Even Jimmy Fallon got in on it and spoofed the original video using dogs instead of couples. There’s even a parody that involves a toilet, but let’s pretend we didn’t see that.

The latest “First Kiss” spinoff is called “First Gay Hug.” It’s a “Homophobic Experiment” that pairs up anti-gay straight people with gay people and asks them to just give one another a hug. What begins as a spoof then turns into a truly meaningful piece of art.

“First Gay Hug” did for me exactly what “First Kiss” didn’t. Watching the straight people’s initial fear and revulsion transform to humor, kindness and compassion genuinely moved me and I can only hope that the video showed the beginning of acceptance and the start of personal transformation for the anti-gay strangers.

On the other side, it’s easy to revile anti-gay individuals and to call them bigots, but the video showed me that these people were only reflecting what they had been taught and hadn’t questioned. They were genuinely scared in a few cases and the straight men involved appeared to me to be tenuously grasping for some imaginary ideal of masculinity that they were afraid of losing.

I felt tremendous compassion for each of the people in this video, who were all brave enough to expose their vulnerability.

Most of all, it was lovely to see the simple power of human touch and how connecting with others, even when it’s scary or uncomfortable, can bring about real change in the world.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: YouTube

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