Part of the reason I started Holding Space was to help normalize platonic touch in our culture. This summer, I’m doing this by handing out hugs at various public venues. Find me at the Fishers Summer Concerts on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday lunchtimes, or at the Carmel Summer Family Concert Series at the Gazebo on Wednesday nights. I’ll also be showing up at some other local festivals (like the Strawberry Festival on the circle yesterday, or Monumental Yoga next week).
Two public hug sessions in, I’m not over my nervousness about handing out public hugs, but I am more convinced than ever that it’s an important part of what I’m trying to accomplish with Holding Space. Professional cuddling doesn’t work in a culture that doesn’t have a comfortable relationship with platonic touch – and our culture is a little shaky on that ideal.
Friends have warned me to “stay safe” when I go out to give hugs, and that’s not entirely unreasonable. It’s not entirely reasonable, either, though. The venues I’ve chosen are in very safe parts of town (each of the concert venues I’m going to is no farther than across the parking lot from the local police station, and the festivals on Monument Circle also have a pretty strong police presence.)
Some of the people that encounter me are gonna laugh at me. That’s already happened. I’m not gonna say that’s my favorite part, but it doesn’t make me feel unsafe. Someone yesterday asked me if I offered more than hugs, which was creepy and unpleasant, but mostly made me sad for the guy who asked. I believe I’ll have the same reaction if someone gooses me – It hasn’t happened yet, but if it does it’ll be creepy and gross and will also give me an opportunity to ask what makes him think that’s a reasonable part of hugging a stranger. I promise to report back how I actually react when it happens – but I know it’ll be a growth opportunity for me and not something that damages me.
I’m actively looking for other opportunities to encounter people in public and offer them hugs. If you have ideas, comment here. Thanks for following along on my interesting journey!