The Queer Case of The Queer Kiss

Snickers really couldn’t have paid for better publicity. Okay, yes they paid for those abhorred ads – one of which features the two “straight” men accidentally kiss and then go on to prove their hetero bona fides with some wholly bone-headed moves, i.e. ripping out huge swaths of chest hair – and later pulled them, but corporate daddy Masterfoods got exactly what they wanted: endless attention.

The seemingly ubiquitous deliberation, The New York Times‘ Guy Trebay asserts that the current deliberation only proves the enduring scandal of the gay kiss.

Not counting the ultra-right, who loathe every little thing the gays do, there’s still a considerable amount of people who frown on gay sex. Sure, they may know and maybe even love gay people, but the thought of gay sex brings a grimace.

Considering the ever-brewing culture wars, it’s no surprise that people get bent out of shape over gay affection, thus forcing gays to choose their steps wisely. Speaking with Trebay, NYC Anti-Violence Project executive director Clarence Patton comments:

There’s really a kind of Potemkin village quality to the tolerance and acceptance. The idea of it is O.K., but the reality falls short. [Gays must] play a very tightly scripted and choreographed role in society, putting your wedding together or what have you, we’re not threatening. But people are still verbally harassed and physically attacked daily for engaging in simple displays of affection in public. Everything changes the minute we kiss.

But what’s in a kiss? The 2 L’s: lust and love, of course, but then there’s more. Sure, there’s all the mawkish sentimentality and/or tawdry eroticism, but underneath all that you find something else: something less sexual, more simple and therefore terrifyingly recognizable: humanity.

Whether people admit it or not, the human kiss adds a certain subjectivity to emotions. A gay kiss isn’t merely part of the “a perverted gay sex machine”, but an (hopefully) honest display of adoration for one’s partner. Short-lived or long-lasting (both the smooch and the relationship), the kiss levels the sexual playing field. Or, at least, first base.

A homophobe would never think of sticking his dick in his buddy’s butt, nor would he think of kissing him. He does, one hopes, kiss his wife or girlfriend. And, possibly, they get down with a little ass play, but it’s certainly not as abominable as a man getting up in another man.

The kiss, however, remains universal: nearly all couples kiss. It’s that commonality that riles those who sneer at public displays of faggotry. It strikes a little too close to home. And when you hit someone in their home, they may just fight back.

Violence may hover over the homo lover lip lock, but that doesn’t mean time aren’t a changin’. Columbia University Professor Katherine M. Franke of Columbia tells Trebay:

What I’ve found in the last five years is that my girlfriend and I get smiles from straight couples, especially younger people. Now there’s almost this aggressive sense of ‘Let me tell you how terrific we think that is.’

While we’re not down for getting beat up, we don’t really want someone all up in our business when we’re trying to get up in our lover’s business. Although, we try to avoid excessive PDA. It’s pretty gross. Seriously, no one needs to see that shit – gay or straight.

Trebay’s piece leave out the people that don’t care about two gays kissing – an underrepresented yet sizable population. These are the people you should really worry about, precisely because of their blase reactions. It seems to us that it’s best not to worry about what other people think (this does not, we’ll say, include getting super sexual – again, that’s gross). Consider MAO PR co-owner Roger Padilha’s end quote.

What if my boyfriend got hit by a car tomorrow? When I had the chance to kiss him, why didn’t I?

Fear of violent retribution or exaggerated acceptance ain’t nothing compared to the fear of the unknown.