I feel like I regularly come upon men offering free hugs, especially at queer events such as pride. Often these men identify themselves with clothing and signs offering further qualification such as “Free hugs from an accepting father,” etc. I approach these situations from a queer liberation perspective. I choose not to seek to use these people for the fulfillment of my own needs and desires, but instead to use my actions and choices to deconstruct toxic masculinity and reinforce queer liberation where I see it.
The point from a Foucauldian discourse analysis perspective is to take the power away from the panopticon by deliberately acting in a way which contradicts established norms and expectations, ie. “Queering.” Social change happens faster if we model it. Therefore when we see people whose intent/goal is to contradict established toxic masculinity discourses, we have a duty to engage them and model a more queer discourse by hugging so that passersby can observe the interaction and become socialized to the queering discourse. This may cause them to enter the cycle of liberation. These people may then go on to challenge and question other harmful discourses in their daily lives, becoming more liberated. Give a hug; liberate a passerby.
It is perhaps ironic to say that my response is certainly a product of my socialization into Sociology, Social Justice, and Foucauldian Queer Theory. I think the film shows that even in our toxically masculine culture, we always have an opportunity to exit the cycle of socialization and help lead people to liberation through the application of queer discourses such as the free hugs movement.