The New York Times is rarely more than a year or two behind trends. Today's Sunday Styles lead on public displays of affection by homosexual couples proves that and something else -- when they get around to discussing a trend, they do a good job.
Greed Notice: In a week, the NYT link will require subscriber access or a fee. Boo.
A major point is that we Americans still have emotional problems seeing gay men or lesbians touching each other, even non-sexually. When it comes to a public kiss, oldsters, even Baby Boomers, are likely to go, "Eeew."
At its extreme, it can be much worse, even in Manhattan. "But people are still verbally harassed and physically attacked daily for engaging in simple displays of affection in public," said Clarence Patton of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. "Everything changes the minute we kiss.”
It is no secret that we as a nation are known widely, particularly in Europe, as prudes about a wide range of sexual and sensual practices. We do have the pale excuse of living where most citizens do not routinely hold hands or kiss cheeks as greetings.
Yet, that doesn't cover the hooha over what fundamentally should be of no concern to anyone. A few repressive nations outlaw public display of affection (PDA), including some that may imprison the habitually lip locked. Nearly all disapprove both by law and by custom of couples of any sexual orientation groping each other or engaging in foreplay openly.
Yet, the I-like-you or I-love-you kiss may have to wait for wider legalization of same-sex marriage and homosexual civil unions for us to get beyond or national priggishness.
Back to the thrilling days of my youth, I recall when I was dating in the 1960s, that the WWII types felt free to literally yell at any of us -- straight couples -- who dared kiss or neck in public. The associated words were indecent, disgusting, and immoral.
While most Americans have gone beyond that, many of the early Boomers who witnessed or suffered that kind of bluenose behavior are among those still appalled by homosexual PDA. The same sweet kiss, thigh touch, or hand holding that brings the "Aw" for a hetero couple can produce that "Eew" for the gay one.
Already polls of the Gen-Y folk show a so-what attitude and the Gen-X is mixed. As with SSM, we may have to wait until my cohort group is out of the way to get beyond this silliness.
Meanwhile, the creeping openness of homosexual couples is coupling with entertainment showing a hug or kiss as normal behavior will help. (Why do we always have to ride in the social conventions caboose?).
As we wait, consider:
- Brazil atwitter and coming to a halt for two guys kissing on TV.
- Two guys kissing on camera at at D.C. hockey game (mostly applause and cheers), but it was news.
- Security at a Mexican luxury hotel roughing up two men and tossing them in the street without their luggage for a peck, without lip contact.
- Flooded ABC message boards protesting a kiss on Desperate Housewives.
- In Indonesia, a comedy film showing a gay couple kissing is a huge hit, although some in the audience come to jeer.
- Of course, the Snickers accidental lip touch.
Yet, this is one of those incremental improvements. As more homosexual couples mirror the PDA behavior of their heterosexual counterparts, the eeew factor fades toward aw. It's about time.
Tags: massmarrier, kiss, public display