In a survey undertaken by free gay dating website ManCentral.com, 61 per cent of gay and bisexual men say they felt uncomfortable displaying affection with another man in public.
Of the 3,200 men surveyed, 23 per cent stated that they were uncomfortable openly displaying affection anywhere in public, while 38 per cent said they would only feel brave enough to do so in a specifically gay-friendly environment. In an identical survey on a heterosexual dating site, the result was the almost the polar opposite: just six per cent said they were uncomfortable with kissing or holding hands.
Curiously, the age group who felt the most uncomfortable with public displays of affection – 28 per cent – were those aged 18-24, while men aged 61 and over who felt the same came in at only 19 per cent. A spokesman for ManCentral.com said: “It is worth noting than men now aged over 60 would have been in their late teens and early twenties when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, yet the statistics indicate they feel less repressed than those aged 18-24 in today’s society.
“There remains a sense that homosexual displays of affection are at worst, unacceptable, or at best, somewhat taboo.”
These statistics call into question why such feelings prevail in what is considered to be a highly tolerant and supposedly enlightened era. Of the London-based men surveyed, it seems a quarter avoid public displays of affection all together, with just 16 per cent answering the same for Brighton and 22 per cent for Manchester.