Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Free Hugs

Apparently there’s a movement going on and I know nothing about it. Oh God I feel old. You can tell when you are getting old and the whole world seems to drift by you and you don’t even have the ability to be a spectator let alone be a part of it.

I was in Rittenhouse Sq. the other weekend at the Spring Festival in Philadelphia. Spring Festival is a euphemism for saying we celebrate May Day but we aren’t Socialists. Anyway I took a picture of this man, well actually there were a bunch more people in the photograph but I cropped them out, they weren’t the ones that I was interested in. He, like the others, was carrying a sign that said “Free Hugs” and I wanted to get my hug. There are some days when you are in need of little love and affection and you will get it anyway you can. But this day wasn’t going to be one of those days for me.

From a distance he seemed like he would be taller than me and I hate to be dominated physically by anyone so that would defeat the purpose of getting hugged. Plus even though my first instinct was that straight black men don’t hug other men. I had seen him hug other men but with that bearhug type mentality thing where he would wrap his arms around someone, lift them off the ground while squeezing their chest against his and whispering….I’m starting to digress. I think I need a moment here.

So, I think what I was trying to say was that whatever motives I had for getting a hug were probably not the motives that this young man and the group had for giving a hug.

I posted a black and white version of this picture on Facebook and a friend of mine had said that he had seen a group of people doing the exact same thing in Union Sq. in New York but he had thought that it was some sort of joke. That made me do a little research on the net and sure enough there is a website dedicated to free hugs that explains how the idea came about and was created by Juan Mann and that’s it’s really nothing other than being able to share empathy with another human being.

Could there be a movement traveling the entire world that I was blithely unaware of?


Is Juan Mann a real name?


  1. In this day and age so many things take place to the point it is almost impossible to be aware of such events. Being unaware of these events has absolutely nothing to do with getting older or out of touch.

    Free Hugs has probably been around for a minute, I don't recall hearing or seeing anyone here in Madison offering free hugs, and this one town that partakes in most causes, especially with all the Hippies that reside here. (Yes Hippies are still around).

    I agree with you, there are times when a hug or a little affection is needed and appreciated.

  2. I've seen the Free Hugs thing around Kansas City before, but I never really knew what it was about.

  3. Chet - Apparently Free Hugs has been around, for a while and there was a time I time when I would have in on the ground floor where I could have said, "Yay" or just ignore it. To be unknowingly on the outside is just a foreign concept to me and if that isn't age then I don't know what is.

    Oday - Whether you mean Kansas or Oklahoma, Kansas City can't be considered as a large metropolis. That means this thing must be going on all over the place and now you know why.

  4. I've seen them in Paris too. But it's not that you're old, nobody can keep up with everything going on in the world... and why should we?

  5. Eduardo - I'm not so sure. There are so many things that happen in the world today that affect you one way or another that it's best to be aware of everything that you can be aware of.

  6. I think I remember seeing something about this on Oprah. I thought it was really sweet and a little creepy at the same time.

  7. Before I read it...I saw the pic...and I was like...I'mma make me a Free Hugs sign and stand in Bryant Park. Just because men in suits usually go after work to have drinks at the outdoor pavillion....AND because ppl need hugs!

    I can FULLY relate. I don't have a man, my kids live 3000 miles away, and I have no family here in NYC...I go weeks if not months without having any human contact...and it sucks...'cause there are days I NEED one.
    AND...shooooot, I'm a good hugger, I'm all soft and shit, ya know.

  8. KST - "...Really sweet and a little creepy at the same time." That must be that WASP upbringing you must have grown up with speaking. Unfortunately, I know exactly what you mean because I feel the same way.

    Blah Blah Blah - But deep down inside, do you really want some stranger with perhaps dodgy personal hygiene issues offering momentary comfort to you? I don't think so. Best to save those hugs for someone you really care about and can be sincere with I say.


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