Ten Kisses That Changed The World

As the song goes, “a kiss is just a kiss.” But we beg to differ. Sometimes a kiss can be so much more — romantic, sure — but also symbolic, defiant, even game-changing.

Those are the kinds of smooches we want to look back on — the ones that shocked and inspired. Some were groundbreaking while others struck a cultural chord, changing the world as we knew it.

In honor of Cupid’s holiday today, we offer up some game changing same-same smooches.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.44.03 AM

Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean in Making Love (1982)

This movie was groundbreaking at the time as the first mainstream Hollywood drama to deal with being gay, being closeted and coming out. Ontkean is married to Charlie’s Angel, Kate Jackson, till Harry Hamlin comes along and turns him on like a Fawcett (*rimshot*), awakening long-suppressed feelings.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.42.30 AM

Michael Sam and Vito Commisano (2014)

Michael Sam became the first openly gay athlete to be drafted by a professional sports team when the St. Louis Rams selected him number 249 in the 7th round of the National Football League draft. So what if Sam didn’t eventually suit up with a pro NFL team? This kiss was broadcast directly into countless beer-chugging straight sports fans living rooms.


Madonna and Britney (2003)

This pure pop moment was all bubblegum and no bite, but there’s a reason people still remember it. Pop music plays (or played) a funny game of simultaneously marketing itself to the masses while being devotedly embraced by gay fans. This kiss acknowledged the gay connection a good five years before Lady Gaga would hit the scene and embrace it head on.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.56.43 AM

Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell (2011)

After a repeal of the U.S. Navy’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell were the first same sex couple to be able to publicly reprise the famed V-J kiss.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.27.37 AM

Roseanne and Mariel Hemingway on Roseanne (1994)

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” generated enormous controversy before it aired because it included a same-sex kiss between Roseanne and Sharon, played by guest star Mariel Hemingway. ABC initially planned not to air the episode. The network eventually relented and the episode was viewed by an audience of some 30 million people.


Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2005)

If you want to get your heart ripped out for two-and-a-half hours, sit down with a box of Kleenex to Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar’s (Ledger) tale of cowboy love is  one of cinema’s most poetically beautiful and the violent, passionate kiss they share after finally being reunited is just about perfect.


Time Magazine Cover (2013)

Accompanying an article lauding the public support for gay marriage leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the magazine argued the cover image “symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.12.23 AM

San Francisco City Hall (2012)

On Feb. 7, 2012 a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the voter-approved Proposition 8 measure violates the civil rights of gay men and lesbians. Emotions were high, and lips were triumphantly locked.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.14.07 AM

Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann in As The World Turns (2007)

The first gay kiss on daytime television was shared between characters Luke and Noah on As The World Turns, paving the way for for more trashy gay TV kisses we love to hate to love.


Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, DOMA struck down (2013)

Katami asked Zarrillo to marry him before members of the media, outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC after the US Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a federal law that prohibits the US government from recognizing gay marriage and providing benefits to same-sex couples.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #entertainment#politics #britneyspears stories and more


  • polarisfashion

    I’m reading ” Two Boys Kissing” by David Leviathan for my book club this month.

  • demented

    “Unrequited.” I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  • Ladbrook

    If true, kinda sad that daytime TV didn’t show a same-sex kiss until 2007.

  • unreligious

    @demented: I thought the same thing.

  • AJAnders

    @ Ladbrook : I think All My Children had a few lesbian kisses a couple years earlier but As The World Turns was the first to do the male kiss. And then it became clear that conservative viewers must have complained because Luke and Noah didn’t kiss again for nearly 8 months. Several straight months of “clever” timed interruptions (someone entering the room, a knock on the door, the phone ringing) always happened whenever the two would try to go in for a kiss.

    Surprisingly, fans anger over the homophobia made national news. Although GLAAD was useless, they made no effort to get involved because it was a soap opera and not high profile enough for them.

    After 8 months, the show let them kiss again and they were allowed to kiss for the next 3 years whenever they wanted with no issue. But it was clear the show was still paranoid about the sex issue. Only twice did they even attempt to have sex, both times they were interrupted before anything could happen naturally. Then, nearly three years after that first kiss, they finally had sex in a very watered down scene that was blink and you’ll miss it. A fan of the show actually won the original script from the sex episode at a CBS auction and the original scene was so much longer and had more skin. Plus, they hop back into bed and do it again. All that was cut and what aired was them exiting the bathroom wearing jeans and talking about how great it was.

    I didn’t think between 2007 and 2010 this would be such an issue but ATWT’s paranoia like handling of their popular gay couple helped pave the way for other soaps to actually let their gay couples have a sex life. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late seeing as soap operas are a dying breed.

  • jwtraveler

    @demented: Proficiency in the English language is clearly not a requirement for writing for Queerty as history as shown.

  • jwtraveler

    @dvlaries: Thanks. I like that one, especially because the soldier’s feet are off the ground.

  • MarionPaige

    what about the most significant KISS of all, The Gay Movement’s Kiss of Corporate America’s Ass.

    Even the allegedly outrageous Folsom Fair has “corporate sponsors”.

    Wanna know why there is no Gay Civil Rights Act of 1964? Answer: Because Corporate America doesn’t want a Gay Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • TampaBayTed

    @demented: The men in Brokeback Mountain had a full passionate love affair…nothing unrequited about it. Frustrating, sad, filled with separation and longing, but definitely not unrequited. Also don’t forget the kiss in Merchant-Ivory’s movie, Maurice. Great scene were Maurice kisses his man Scudder who is the grounds keeper where he is staying.

  • KingKong

    The last thing on Madonna’s and (especially) Britney’s minds during that kiss was “acknowledg[ing] the gay connection” in pop music. It was 100% attention-seeking and appealing to the straight male gaze. Jake and Heath kissing on the other hand was hot as f*ckk

  • crowebobby

    Apropos of nothing but the word unrequited: I found this bit from “Queer as Folk” heart wrenching: “Unrequited love. It’s fantastic, ’cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!” Vince

  • tallguy804

    Can’t believe you didn’t include Dalan and Brandon’s welcome home kiss. That is just disappointing. No kiss between two fictional characters will ever have the same power that their kiss had. They are both true heroes to the LGBT community.

  • DavidTheLeo

    Thanks to @dvlaries . . . that one got MY vote!

  • jwtraveler

    @MarionPaige: In a capitalist society everything eventually gets co-opted.

Comments are closed.