More than 600 people flocked to a Sainsbury’s in Brighton in response to a kissing lesbian couple being asked to leave the store due to their “disgusting” behaviour.
Annabelle Paige, an English Literature student at Sussex University, was asked by a Sainsbury’s security guard to stop displaying affection towards her girlfriend after a customer had complained she was concerned for her child’s safety.
The reaction to this incident was huge, and the story soon went viral.
After speaking to the student in question, Michael Segalov, communications officer at Sussex University Students’ Union, decided to make a “positive event” and “divert the attention away from one small issue into the bigger issue of homophobia in our society”.
Talking to Artefact, Michael explained he felt both “upset and frustrated” after hearing about the incident. Segalov created the ‘Big Kiss In’ soon after, which “escalated really quickly, and the support was definitely there. It just shows the need for us to combat homophobia, which affects a lot of people’s lives.”
Popular local drag performer Lydia L’Scabies hosted the ‘Big Kiss In’ and showed her support for the battle against homophobia with some inspirational spoken words.
Lydia opened up to Artefact: “As someone who has experienced many levels of homophobia, be them through coming out as a teenager or day to day, I felt really strongly about this cause. It goes deeper than just the LGBTQ community though I’d say; it’s about having that freedom to be with someone comfortably – and tastefully – in the street.”
As hundreds stood outside Sainsbury’s on a rainy afternoon there were feelings of union and community among us all. The ‘Big Kiss In’ brought hundreds of people together, male and female, gay and straight, to stand up for a person’s right to love who they want to love and not be called “disgusting” for it.
Sainsbury’s have apologised for their handling of the situation and have since met with Segalov to explain that their response to Annabelle and her girlfriend’s display of affection was a “mistake”.
Michael has asked them to make a bigger donation to charity following their £100 offer.
Photography by Carys Bulmer