survey says

What’s With All The Straight British High School Boys Kissing Other Boys?

Kissing — or snogging, as the British (and Madonna used to) say — in high school isn’t something reserved just for couples in love. It’s also a behavior exhibited by perfectly straight blokes who just happen to enjoy the company of their male friends.

Apparently a sign the anti-gay machismo fad of earlier decades is fading, British researchers quizzing 145 university and high school students found 89 percent have kissed on the lips a straight male friend, while 37 percent took part in “sustained” kissing with another man. All of these dudes, meanwhile, identify as straight and didn’t see their lip smacks as sexual behavior.

The trend toward male same-sex smooches has skyrocketed in recent years, Anderson said. It began on the professional soccer field, where players often share exuberate kisses after goals. That made kissing between men acceptable for college and high-school players, Anderson said. Then the players took the same behaviors to nights out in pubs, spreading the trend to non-athletes. Despite stereotypes of the homophobic jock, athletes were more likely to have kissed another man than non-athletes. Just over 80 percent of non-athletes had kissed a man, compared with 95 percent of athletes.

Of the guys in the study who hadn’t shared a same-sex kiss, all found the practice acceptable. One student who had never kissed another lad joked with the researchers that when he told his friends about the study, they’d probably ensure that his classification changed. That night, Anderson received a text from the student reading, “I’m in the majority now.”

The idea that two straight guys can be affectionate with each other in public isn’t terribly new: In much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, straight male friends hold hands and walk down the street with their arms around one another. Then again, much of that behavior isn’t looked at as “gay” in these cultures because homosexuality is a hidden, unrecognized abnormality for plenty — a concept so foreign that seeing two men kiss couldn’t be considered sexual, because two men are never sexual with each other.

The difference here, of course, is that British high school boys know plenty about The Gay. They’ve just discovered a more fun alternative to high fives. [Live Science]