LGBT activists stage a #BigKayKissIn at UK grocery store Sainsbury's - and not for the first time.Photo: Michael Segalov Facebook
If you're gonna promote homophobia and bigotry, you're gonna have to face the consequences - as a grocery store in East London found out this weekend.
About 200 gay and lesbian couples - armed with rainbow flags and speakers blasting, amazingly, Holly Valance's 'Kiss Kiss' - turned up at Sainsbury's in Hackney over the weekend to stage a mass same sex kiss-in, after a security guard asked a gay couple who were shopping there to stop holding hands.
Thomas Rees and his partner Joshua Bradwell were pulled aside by the guard as they were paying for their shopping, and asked to leave because another customer had complained about them "touching inappropriately".
To the bigot who complained about my bf & I holdin hands & the security guard at @sainsburys who felt the need to 'talk' to us outside🖕🏻— Thomas Rees (@doganddinosaur) August 8, 2016
After learning about the incident through social media, Sainsbury's higher-ups apologised to Rees and offered the couple a £10 voucher to spend in store - an insulting gesture that angered activists, who urged the LGBT community to gather at the store for a #BigGayKissIn.
"I feel amazing, elated, overjoyed and I can't stop smiling. It's undone everything," Bradwell told The Independent. "It realigns our faith in our community. We felt let down, but to see this turnout is incredible."
"We were right to be holding hands, because when someone questions your behaviour in such a direct manner you can't help but analyse how you are perceived by society," Rees added in an interview with the Associated Press.
The 'Big Gay Kiss In' at Sainsbury's 💋 So many people turned up! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/maKzLjNWou— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) August 13, 2016
According to reports, staff at the store lent their support to the protestors, offering them biscuits and water, while a spokesperson for Sainsbury's said management were making sure "lessons were learnt".
"We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome in our stores, but occasionally we make mistakes."
"Occasionally" is probably the correct word. This week's 'Kiss In' was organised by journalist Michael Segalov, who had led a similar protest at another Sainsbury's store almost two years ago, after a lesbian couple were called "disgusting" and kicked out for kissing in the vegetable aisle.
"In a year that's seen attacks all too often on the LGBT community, it's high time that Sainsbury's - with profits over £500 million this year - put their money where their mouths are and use their resources to ensure that homophobia becomes a thing of the past. A £10 voucher just doesn't cut it," Segalov wrote on Facebook.
Excellent demo. Security guard who ejected gay couple for holding hands should have been sacked. https://t.co/EROk0PC5nR— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) August 14, 2016
Joshua Bradwell and Thomas Rees at the Saino's kiss-in on Hackney Road. Easily the friendliest protest I've been to pic.twitter.com/us1gWXZNDv— Ryan Hooper (@RyanJHooper) August 13, 2016
"People are only shocked because they have never seen two men together before. That's how shock happens, it comes from fear," Rees said, following the event.
"The more we hold hands, kiss, and show affection in public, the more healthy we will be as a society."