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Radio host disturbed by male hugging

Sat 23 Apr 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

Disparaging comments from Radio Live host Martin Devlin about men hugging is an example of how homophobia affects all men, not just the gay ones, says the AIDS Foundation. Devlin expressed unease about 29-year-old Riccarton man Hamish Middleton auctioning a non-sexual hug for a male or female through internet auction site TradeMe, saying he worried that the hug might linger “just a bit too long”, and that it was wrong for two men to hug outside of a sporting context. Middleton, a youth support worker who cares for children battling depression and suicidal tendencies, will give all the money raised from the hug auction to the children's ward at Christchurch Hospital. "There are a hell of a lot of families out there who don't even hug their kids any more...and a teacher can't even give a kid a hug," he told the Christchurch Press. The AIDS Foundation says Devlin's unease over the hug is an example of how homophobia extends to not just fear of gays, but fear of being thought of as gay. They've conducted workshops entitled “Who Are You Hurting?” which aim to counter sexuality-based prejudice. Research shows that this fear has led to emotional loneliness for Kiwi men and may be a contributor to their higher incidence of depression, loneliness, self harm behaviours and even suicidality, says spokesman Steve Attwood. “New Zealand men seem to have associated physical and emotional intimacy with being feminine and, unfortunately, often substitute ‘feminine' with ‘gay',” he says. “They have become so afraid of being thought of as gay or queer that they are reluctant to hug or be physically close even between fathers and sons, brothers or best mates. A number of social observers and researchers have commented on this, comparing New Zealand men unfavourably with those in most European, Asian and Latin American countries where male affection is open, healthy and ‘normal'.” Attwood says if we can defeat homophobia, we'll improve the emotional and mental health of all men not just the gay ones.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 23rd April 2005 - 12:00pm

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