The story behind this powerful picture

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Olan Harrington, a student at the University College Cork, opens up about his experiences for the Humans of Homophobia poster campaign, which has gone viral on social media.

The story behind this powerful picture

I held my boyfriend’s hand yesterday. I caught it, as I usually do on UCC campus and held it until we reached the main gates, only this time I didn’t let go. We moved along the Western Road, towards Washington Street, and as we reached the innards of Cork City something strange lingered over me.

I felt very afraid.

I shot darts about, searching for anyone who might do us harm, I felt an unease, as cars slowed down…I wondered whether they would shout “faggot” or “queer” at us, as they had done before in previous relationships of mine and other eras of simple hand holding. I wanted to keep holding, it was cold, and it felt so comforting. But I did not want to put my boyfriend through that hurt and pain that words can cause, I almost let go.

But something else happened, I felt a torrent of anger at the world. I felt so angry at the world for making me feel this way, and not everyone would ever dare to shout obscene words like “queer” or “faggot”, because simply, not everyone is this mean and disgusting – but I still felt it, like it could happen any minute.

Yesterday, I felt so scared that I became angry, and I felt so angry at the homophobia that I had ignored since my teens that yesterday I couldn’t let go. I held his hand all the way to Paul Street. I felt defiant, elated that it felt normal to me, but I still felt afraid, I still felt anxious. I still felt, homophobia.

I’m very proud to be a part of the #HumansofHomophobia campaign by UCC LGBT. A campaign to highlight the very human face of the effects that this heinous behaviour has on people, real people, people like me, who just want to hold hands.

I’ve heard many say that homophobia doesn’t exist anymore really. To those people I say, so long as I feel that tremor of fear, as I take my boyfriends hand in public, then homophobia exists. Yesterday I felt that fear, I felt that fear because I stepped outside of that little box that I was put in by society, to be “normal,” to do what “others,” do, to not show the smallest dram of affection in public.

I am someone who would have always said, “I have never really experienced very bad cases of homophobia growing up,” but this campaign, and spending the weekend at #PinkTraining, has only showed me that not only have I experienced #homophobia, I live it on a daily basis, when I feel that fear as I walk into Paul Street holding hands with my boyfriend.

And that is not something that I am ok with feeling anymore.

You can view the campaign below, and I encourage you to share it as much as you can to show the human face of this horrible behaviour that goes on every single day.

This was originally posted on Olan Harrington’s blog.

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The visual campaign, launched by the UCC LGBT* Society last month, with local photographer Emmet Curtin and make-up artist Kate Moriarty.

Auditor James Upton said: “This campaign is a remarkable project highlighting the very essence of societal injustice.

“It empowers thought and UCC LGBT* Society is proud to be continuing the discussion around homophobia through ‘Humans of Homophobia’.

“Psychological and physical impacts of homophobia on a per- son’s development have created a society where this is partially accepted.

“Put a face on the issue and suddenly it’s important; and it’s important because only when you begin to change the perception of something in a minor way like an empty face or bruised eye is it possible to change the behaviour of a people towards an injustice that threatens the very upholding of our society.

“I encourage everyone to share the campaign, and spread the word that no longer can society stand to see the development of hate.”