Men holding hands is not gay in India

Don’t be surprised to see two men holding hands in India. In most European nations and in the USA, this public display of affection can be mistaken for being gay or lesbian but not in India. Here we don’t see it that way. Just because two men (or women) are holding hands or they have hands on other’s shoulders does not mean anything. They just happen to be friends and there is nothing sexual about the whole thing.

So, if you see men or women holding hands with each or showing similar forms of physical intimacy, it does not mean that they romantically involved in any way. It just happens that in some cultures such as India’s, its normal to show their affection by holding hands which might seem inappropriate to those belonging to other cultures.

In fact, in some countries particularly Arab, Africa and some parts of Asia, holding hands is a sign of friendship and/or a sign of respect.

This behaviour of social intimacy exists in all strata of Indian society from the poor and the uneducated in the villages, to the educated urban middle and even some upper classes. However, men in India from the villages are far more comfortable of showing affection to their male friends than their urban counterparts.

If you are a visiting India, do not be alarmed to see some men holding hands; don’t just assume they are gay. Funny thing is that in some parts of the country, it’s still sort of borderline taboo for members of the opposite sex to show signs of affection.

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Shalu Sharma

Shalu Sharma is a blogger and a writer from Bihar, India. She is the founder of YouBihar, the Bihar social networking site and writer on tourism in India. Apart from blogging, she is also a mother who does cooking and washing. She also watches movies and read other blogs. You can follow her on .

73 thoughts on “Men holding hands is not gay in India

  • July 15, 2013 at 9:25 am
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    I guess this might sound strange to the west world to see guys walking holding hands. It equally surprised me at first when I learned that if two girls are walking holding hands in west, they are thought to be lesbians. Cultural differences may extract completely different meanings.

    You made an interesting post out of this fact.
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    • July 15, 2013 at 9:48 am
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      In the west, holding hands can be seen as if you are “going out” but in India its just showing affection. Thanks for your comment and hope to see you again.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 9:38 am
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    Hi Shalu,

    Absolutely! I’m glad in our country men holding hands has nothing to do with sexuality nor does it indicate they are gay – but just friends – in most of the cases I’d add further. I think if they are gay, they all the more hide from showing their affection publicly in our country, unlike in the USA or other nations.

    For that matter, very few men or women show their affection in public, whether they are married, gay, or lesbians, again unlike in other countries where they are very open about all such things.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)
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    • July 15, 2013 at 9:55 am
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      You are so right on this and thanks for adding the extra fact that if they were gay, they would try to hide it. In fact being gay or lesbian is something that is frowned upon in India. India has a long way to go as far as accepting these things are concerned. Thanks for your comment and shares.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 11:27 am
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    Interesting, I was wondering if it would allow or encourage gay men to be more openly affectionate by holding hands, but apparently not!
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    • July 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm
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      I think if they were really gay then they would try to hide it rather than walk around hand in hand. Thanks for taking the time to comment Sharell.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 11:49 am
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    I am from UP and till I know something about west and how they identify gay, I surprised that in my state every friend put hand on shoulder each other… and hold hands while walking.. off course they all were not gay 😀
    Thanks for intimating visitors to India .. :)
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    • July 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm
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      This is exactly what I mean Vipin. We see men walking around hand in hand and we Indians know that they are not gay but to the foreigner they might appear as if they are.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 11:59 am
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    It used to be normal to see a man holding a fellow man’s hand but not anymore in Ghana.
    With the West pressuring us to accept gayism, such act is now considered ‘abnormal’ hahaa
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  • July 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm
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    Dearest Salu Sharma
    Super post. We have already discussed this matter many time. Because many of our foreign guests asked us by seeing men as well as women publicly walking hand in hand. I remember an occasion when one fellow named Shaon from US expressed his exclamation by saying Kerala is full of gays. Actually his remark about our youngsters who are walking in our public roads holding their hands made us conscious to think about their (foreign guest’s ) view points. Because in their culture, it seems different with particular meaning. But here in India we are free to behave with our friends without any inhibitions.

    Any way super post. Salu Sharma Jee, Keep it up, Superb. A blogger wins to more peaks when he/ she speaks topics which not yet published in blogs… Good
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    • July 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm
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      Brahmadas
      I know exactly what you mean when you say that foreigners sometimes questions that these men are gay. But we know that they are not and its just their way of showing affection to their friend.

      Holding hands or putting ares on your friends shoulders is not considered gay in India.

      Thank you for your comment and hope to see you again.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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    Saying a person a Gay is an important factor for every individual as it is something related to his sexuality but I don’t thing being a gay is taboo (as they say in India). I completely agree with the author that in India you can not consider two men holding hands as Gay.
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    • July 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm
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      Being gay in India is not as acceptable as in the west. Thanks for your comment.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 1:19 pm
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    It is funny, Salu. Every country has different culture. If it is happened on my country, peoples will expect that they are gay.

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    • July 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm
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      I agree, cultures vary and so does peoples perception. Thanks for your comment.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm
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    Hello Shalu,
    I thought i was going to see a perfect explanation for that :) .
    Yes! Before, africa do hold hands and that shows sign of friendships but sometime back, it has become a taboo. The reason it has become a sin in my country, is because of the pressure the americans are putting on the west africans :)

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    • July 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm
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      Why do you feel that Americans are putting pressure and preventing men from holding hands?
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  • July 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm
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    Just one word for your great thought.

    “I SALUTE YOU”.

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  • July 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm
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    Hello Shalu,

    Yes.. there is far far difference between Asia & Europe & USA culture. In our culture, its common touch each other as friends but in USA it seems to be gay or like that. So I think we are still maintaining good culture.
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    • July 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm
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      Ahsan,
      Its just that it looks awkward to those coming to India from the west. Thanks for your comment.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    I am not agreed who said holding hands of same sex refers lesbians or gays. This is non-sense thinking. For me its sign of love which we feel for each other. Brothers, Sisters Parents, Friends etc…
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  • July 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm
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    Our society is sure very different and though I have seen many times guys holding hands it never occurred to me that some people may take a meaning out of it.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm
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    Hahaha…!!! No way two friends can hold each others hand. At least I am not thinking like that. But i think Shalu you are great i never think this can be a topic of discussion. :)
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    • July 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm
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      Its all about thinking out of the box. The reason why it came to my mind is because I saw some men holding hands and that gave me the idea to write about it. Thanks for your comment.
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  • July 15, 2013 at 9:29 pm
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    It looks unnatural for me, here in our country if people see 2 guys holding by hands is pretty awkward.

    Best regards from I. C. Daniel
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    • July 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm
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      How about 2 women holding hands, will that be unnatural as well in your country. Thanks..
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      • July 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm
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        Depends age of the women, if they are same age is most people thinks is awkward too.

        However 2 girls holding hands is acceptable in my opinion. See you next time Shalu!

        Best regards from I. C. Daniel
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  • July 16, 2013 at 6:43 am
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    I agree with Daniel, it is really looks unnatural. Men holding hands with each, OMG, if I see 2 guys holding by hands is pretty awkward.

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  • July 16, 2013 at 7:12 am
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    Well explained Shalu !
    Foreigners might have misconceptions on seeing man holding other man’s hand…they should try to find out the reason behind why they both are holding each others hand before making any misconceptions .

    Regards,
    Pramod
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  • July 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm
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    Asia and Africa has a lot in common when it comes to values and morals, unlike the western civilization that has reduced every human gesture to sexuality. Thanks for sharing and enlightening me because i would’ve ordinarily thought otherwise.
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  • July 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm
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    hi shalu. welcome to the group. this is an interesting article since it offers us some glimpse of Indian culture. yes holding hands in other cultures specifically in western countries are viewed that way and this article informs us that it is a way of showing respect in your culture

    Regards :)

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  • July 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm
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    Hi,

    I’m living in Mumbai and I see many of those everyday. Yeah, it not that they are guy “always”; it’s because they happen to be good friends of each others. However, there are bunch are really guy! 😉

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    • July 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm
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      That is true, they hold hands because they are friends and nothing more. But those who come to India see it differently. Thanks for your comment.
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  • July 17, 2013 at 11:43 am
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    Yes, we are lucky here in India that we can hold hands for no reason and not necessary only when we feel attracted to the other person. Few things about the west are so bad and formal. Anyways.
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  • July 18, 2013 at 5:22 am
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    I guess this might sound strange to the west world to see guys walking holding hands.

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  • July 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm
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    Hi,
    I never heard about men holding hands is gay. In India, men holding hands that shows their love between them. Interesting article thanks for sharing.

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  • July 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm
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    I noticed that one too Shalu, men from India does that even when they’re in Singapore. At first I was a bit surprised being someone who isn’t familiar to that custom. I eventually got used to seeing it. Indian guys are a bit touchy it seems. :)

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    • July 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm
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      So you see Indian men in Singapore doing it too. When you say ‘touchy’ do you mean emotional or like to touch?
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  • July 19, 2013 at 8:21 am
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    From this post, I can easily guess that you have studies different nations and cultures of the world. I agree that in Asian countries holding hands of the same sex is sign of friendship and it is not meant gay.

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  • July 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm
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    yes this is true .. so thanks for explain this for us because i believe that at the first time when i read this article so …thanks so much for providing us with those new ideas to me ….. i like to know more about this culture because it is very rich………….

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  • July 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm
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    Hohohoho, you answer my question because a lot man of India in my country to do that..

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  • July 20, 2013 at 4:58 am
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    by seeing a two men/women together we should not setup a mind that they might be a gay/lesbian a thing is like that they are closed friends soo guys stop thinking like a illiterate person now we are in 20th century so thoughtful and thinkfull

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  • July 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm
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    I never knew that foreigners actually perceived us holding hands as Gay sexuality until now.

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  • July 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    I never now that holding hands is considered gay by foreigners until now.

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  • July 22, 2013 at 3:41 am
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    At first, I was surprised to see many men holding hands in India. No straight guys would do that here in the Philippines hehe Then an Indian man told me that a lot of men in India are bisexual. How true is that, Shalu?
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  • July 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm
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    I wish the U.S. could accept something as beautiful as this. I know that it will never happen but it would be amazing if it did. We need to learn to love and show love in different ways. Thanks for sharing this post. Great work :)

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  • July 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm
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    I think its Indian society image. I and my childhood friend always hold hands and go for walk. Its about human thinking. thanks for sharing a grt article.
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  • July 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm
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    So True, helpful for those foreigners who comes from different culture and can misunderstood such gestures.

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  • July 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm
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    This was a good one, short and simple explaining how culture deference can cause misunderstanding in foreigners who visits India

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  • July 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm
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    I have to admit even here in our place, both men holding each other’s hands is unusual. I guess it is just a matter of how the society your are in is treating that one. Nice trivia about India though.

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  • July 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm
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    I have to admit even here in our place, both men holding each other’s hands is unusual. I guess it is just a matter of how the society your are in is treating that one. Nice trivia about India though.

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  • July 28, 2013 at 9:30 am
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    20 or 30 there was nothing wrong if a guy hugs a guy but now these days gay this gay that, if a guy talking to a guy doesn’t mean that he is gay.

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  • August 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm
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    😀 I wasn’t able to stop laughing after reading this post. Really, a wonderful thought that yes, two guys holding hands in India are not gay.
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  • August 5, 2013 at 5:43 am
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    You have given provided this blog I liked that .You give me more formation according to me So it is very beautiful article and interesting .It is very nice …
    Thanks

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  • August 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm
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    hahahaaha… I understand whats going on this is indian dostana.

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  • September 19, 2013 at 7:50 am
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    hi shalu,
    i truely agree with you that Men holding hands is not gay in India and i think all people should not think that way…
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  • June 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm
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    Well, It is an unsual activity but in my country indonesia I usually find a gay. it really funny

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  • July 14, 2014 at 11:02 am
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    This is what Separates India from other countries.You can men holding hands , and over their shoulder they can be friends.

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  • November 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm
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    I live in the U.S. as a gay man, however I never assume male to male affection is something homosexual. Through my extensive travels I’m well aware that men in other cultures show public displays of affection without it meaning anything homosexual. For example, last time I went to Italy, it was common to see men giving each other a warm, snug embrace. Here in the U.S., people would mark them as gay, but in Europe, the act is perfectly normal. It’s interesting how our cultural perspectives can label certain behavior based on a limited understanding of social practices and customs.

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  • February 10, 2015 at 2:32 pm
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    That’s very interesting. In other countries and culture, that type of affection it’s a sign that they are guy.
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  • March 18, 2015 at 5:14 am
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    same as in indonesia, holding hand beetwen 2 men isnt mean there 2 guys is guy

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