Vincent Dolman published a series of photos documenting the unusual yet interestingly act of holding hands among Indian men as they walk the busy streets of India.
The London-based celebrity and fashion photographer was inspired to document this cultural norm after he photographed two men holding hands.
“The minute I saw men holding hands for the first time I was intrigued so much,” the 43-year-old photographer, who has worked with many big name celebrities including Eminem and Rihanna. “Later I took a photograph of a father and son by the gateway to India just chatting while the sun was going down as they held each others hands. It was a beautiful picture.”
“That’s when the whole thing started,” Dolman said. “Wherever I looked, men were holding hands and you just don’t see that in London.”
However, the idea only came to him when he was already back in England.
“I knew that the rainy season was about to kick in so I knew I had to get there ASAP or I would have to wait for months to get back out there and have nice light to shoot in,” Dolman said. “It took me a couple of days to get my first good shots as I wasn’t in rhythm with how it works. I was looking in the wrong places and the wrong time of day.”
“I started going out later in the day as the sun was setting and went mostly down to the beaches, big squares, promenade’s and parks, where the best spots.”
Dolman asked a few men in India why they hold hands, but they were baffled by his question.
“… they looked at me as if I was asking a silly question and simply said: ‘we are best friends,’” the photographer said.
In the West, where homophobia is quite rampant in some areas, this type of physical contact between two people of the same sex has made many men uncomfortable, according to Quartz.
But in India, the gesture is common not only with men but for women as well. It shows affection for their friends.
Dolman explained that the experience and journey have been amazing and that it taught him so much.
“I’ve had so many messages on Instagram from people explaining different aspect to this project. Some people said to me that it was a class thing and other said that it’s still taboo for men to hold hands in India and I wasn’t even aware that India is currently debating the article 377 that criminalizes gay sex,” he explained.
“At first, the project was about the irony of heterosexual men holding hands and the beauty of that. Also the contrast between Indian culture and the UK,” Dolman continued.
“But it has become much more than that and I’m just happy that it is coursing debate. As that can only be a positive thing,” he added.