I Asked for More Gay Kisses. Now We’re Getting Them.

Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
May 14 2014 3:53 PM

I Asked for More Gay Kisses. Now We’re Getting Them.

Screenshot of Michelangelo Signorile's Facebook page.
Michelangelo Signorile's Facebook page.

On Monday, I wrote that the controversy surrounding Michael Sam’s on-air gay kiss really just proves that America needs to see much more gay kissing. Happily, Michelangelo Signorile heeded the call on Wednesday, launching the Great Facebook Kiss-in and kicking it off with a Facebook kiss of his own. The rules are simple: Signorile asks that everyone, gay or not, change their profile picture of a same-sex kiss in an effort to normalize this basic display of affection. You can take a picture of yourself, your friend, your sibling, or even somebody you’ve never met.

A lot of people are going to decry the kiss-in as a confrontational, in-your-face exhibition. They’re correct, of course—and that’s the point. As I noted in my original post, straight Americans need to see more same-sex affection, and LGBTQ Americans are the only people who can provide it. It’s going to be a little awkward at first, but there’s no better way to break the ice than with a splashy Facebook campaign. And the ice truly does need to be broken. As any gay person who’s ever stolen a kiss in public can tell you, the whole situation is immensely fraught: The nervous survey beforehand for a potentially violent onlooker; the necessarily quick peck; the furtive, darting glances afterward for anger or annoyance—it’s rarely worth the trouble, which is why so many gay couples prefer to act like friends instead of partners in public.

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There’s no reason this innocent act of affection should so freighted with tension. But there’s no way to fix the problem if straight people don’t get used to seeing gay kisses tossed off with the same carefree innocence that opposite-sex kisses are. So do America a favor and go share a gay kiss with the world. If Michael Sam could do it on ESPN, you can do it on Facebook.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.