Crowds of people came together today (13 August) to stage a mass kiss-in at a Sainsbury’s store in London after a gay couple were asked to leave the store for holding hands.
The event, organised after Thomas Rees and his partner Josh were told by a security guard they were ‘acting inappropriately’ for holding hands in the Hackney store, saw scores of people kissing and partying in the name of LGBTI equality.
Before the kiss-in began, Rees read out a speech to the crowd, saying: We never set out to demonise a supermarket or security team. Our intentions were simple: to highlight that unfortunately in 2016 homophobia still exists.
‘I urge you all not to be put off by what happened to myself and Josh on Monday, but instead I ask you to go out, hold hands and hug with pride because love is love.’
After a short countdown, the store turned into a sea of kissing couples, before turning the music up and holding an all-out party.
Staff at the Sainsbury’s seemed welcoming of the group, providing cookies and bottles of water to the kissers.
The event lasted just under 15 minutes, but revellers continued to party outside the store afterwards, receiving beeps of support from passing motorists.
Rees told GSN: ’I was fully prepared to see no-one here, and when I turned the corner and saw a street full of people, and to have people beeping and taking pictures….words fail me.
‘I’ve never had any kind of support like this… to put your word out there, and argue your corner and to turn around and see an army behind you…it’s phenomenal.’
Rees also revealed that Sainsbury’s will be making a donation of £100 to Stonewall on behalf of the couple.
The event was organised by Michael Segalov, who made contact with the couple after hearing of the incident through the news. Segalov had helped organise a similar event at a Brighton Sainsbury’s in 2014, when a lesbian couple were asked to leave for kissing in the frozen aisle.
He told GSN: ‘Hundreds of people came down. It’s a Saturday night, people have shit to do and it was quite late notice, but there was hundreds of people here and that’s really important… it shows how much incidents like this resonate with people.
‘I think what’s quite frustrating is that this happened before; they knew it was an issue and what could’ve been a a really positive opportunity a few years ago to go out and make a stand doesn’t seem to have happened.
‘I really hope that the outcome of this is they do go back and look at the training, and the processes they go through and make sure something like this can’t happen again at their stores.’
The kiss-in was hosted by drag artist Rodent DeCay, who told GSN: ‘It has been phenomenal. The fact that we had so many people here actively, and outrageously, and defiantly demanding to be seen is beautiful.
‘For a community that is often so internally divided, to be able to rally behind parts of our community that are marginalised and discriminated against, proves that we are still a family and will stand behind its members that get mistreated.’
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told GSN: ‘It’s been a really great event and an important opportunity for the community to show their support. We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome in our stores but occasionally we make mistakes. We are working hard to make sure lessons are learnt.’
The post Crowds gather at Sainsbury’s gay kiss-in to support LGBTI equality appeared first on Gay Star News.