A kiss is still a kiss: a guide to PDAs

There’s a teeny tiny part of me that feels sorry for
Eric Revie
, assistant pastor at Glad Tidings Community Church in Blenheim, Ontario. He’s being widely mocked for panicking at the sight of two young lesbians making out in a Tim Horton’s coffee shop and, later today, there’ll be a “kiss-in” protest (my favourite kind).

Sure, I’m appalled that Tim Horton’s backed Revie up in his frankly insane story that the two women were “straddling one another, tongues locked” in front of their own family members but hey, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not just another small-town bigot. Hell, I’ll even play along when Revie claims he thought one of the women (who identifies as genderqueer) was a guy. He’s not a homophobe; he just hates the PDA, right?

The Public Display of Affection, be it homo or hetero, seems to irritate a lot of people but me, I’m a fan. I like seeing it, I like doing it and not, as I was once accused, for gay-activist-politicky reasons. Kissing on the street is just nice. What’s wrong with nice?

I think the aversion to the PDA is based on three factors, any one of which can turn even a lovable Ontario pastor into a frazzled whiny fascist. Consider these before your next outdoor tongue swap:

1. Proximity
Seeing people kiss on the patio across the street is charming; feeling them kiss on the subway seat beside you is harrowing.

2. Longevity
A long kiss goodbye at the subway station is romantic; starting to undo belt buckles after five minutes of it is guaranteed to disturb.

3. Attractiveness
That one just does without saying. Would the pastor and Timmy’s been as upset if it were Elisabeth Hasselbeck making out with Jesus?

So yes, it’s best for all that PDAs be as discreet, brief and stylish as romance will allow, even as I remain convinced that one’s discomfort with other people’s make-out sessions reflects one’s feelings about their own sexuality. No one who insists on having sex at home with all the lights turned off is going to cheer on anyone tongue-kissing at the mall.

But it happens nevertheless. I feel a bit sorry for the pastor here because he’s seems unprepared for, well, life itself. There are lesbians. They like to kiss. Sometimes over Timbits. Get over it!

But, but, “They were basically having sex,” Revie whines and it makes me worry for him. Does he not know what sex looks like? What is “basically?” When he sees two women sitting astride other and thinks it “pornographic,” it appears some serious sex-ed is in order.

Well, I’m here to help. I’m going to assume all this gay panic is simply due to not seeing a whole lot of same-sex kissing up in Blenheim. Maybe not even a lot of hetero PDAs either. Revie can’t tell the difference, after all. So with the help of some lovely montage-makers on YouTube, I have developed a handy three-step PDA education course, a combination of positive association building and aversion therapy. Let’s begin…

LESSON ONE: Hooray for (heterosexual) Hollywood!

It’s weird to discover there are people opposed to seeing their peers kissing in the streets but who then pay 13 bucks to watch actors do it onscreen. For the last century, movies have been the most popular way to watch lovely ladies and handsome men make out. Pastor Revie might be squeamish at first but hey, Blenheim loves Aerosmith, right?

See? Kissing isn’t just for Valentine’s Day–it can happen anywhere, even in spaceships! But if you handled watching that video without calling 911, let’s move on to more challenging material…

LESSON TWO: Lipstick ladies!

Now pay attention, Pastor Eric, because here’s why your complaints confuse me: most straight men I’ve met love watching women make out. Also, straight women don’t seem to panic at the sight and even gay men will admit that Bound is a really hot movie. I’m quite sure Tim Horton’s business would skyrocket if the java came with this:

“I don’t want my kids to see pornographic images that will burn an impression into them,” Revie insists. Leaving aside the vast difference between kissing and porn (that’ll be in Lesson Four),  this is another sad example of the belief that gay imagery will turn kids gay, an idea disturbingly common yet proven false. If this were at all possible, Glee would’ve done it by now.

This leads us into our next and apparently toughest lesson…

LESSON THREE: It’s raining men!

Obviously, I’ve been picking on Revie here (Oh no! I’m a gay bully!) but in truth, the image of two men kissing often makes even fully-grown liberal-minded adults crack Brokeback Mountain jokes and say things like, “Well, I just don’t need to see that.” Umm, yes. Yes you do. But don’t worry, I’ve found the gentlest possible video…

Did you watch the whole thing? Well now you’re gay. That’s how it works.

No, I’m hoping that even Pat Robertson would just shrug by this point and realize that people kissing, regardless of their gender, is a lovely sight. Oh sure, maybe some of them might get a bit carried away and need to have the hose turned on them but isn’t that a small price to pay for a world with more love in it? Don’t look at me like I’m a hippie–have you seen the shit going down at the Occupy protests? The world needs more kissing.

So if you’re anywhere near 79 Talbot Street West in Blenheim today at 4pm, grab yourself a double-double coffee and slip someone a little tongue. Hell, do it in whatever town you’re in. It’ll feel good and make the world a slightly happier place. Maybe even this happy…

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About Scott Dagostino

An arts & culture journalist who's the bastard love child of Van Morrison and Jessica Mitford
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2 Responses to A kiss is still a kiss: a guide to PDAs

  1. Here’s a very important question. It seems from watching the “Gay kiss montage” video – and now I’m gay, thanks for that – that gay men often grab their partner behind the head or neck while kissing. This seems weird to me. When I’m kissing a guy I might run my fingers through his hair a little, but I’m really more interested in fondling shoulders, back… maybe even a little butt-grabbing. Does anyone care to comment on the veracity of these cinematic gay kisses?

    • Good question — I too instinctively go for the back-of-head grab, though I also like all those spots you mention 😉

      I think my favourite example is the straight-guy-kiss-under-duress in AMERICAN PIE 2 between Jim and Stifler. Neither wants it yet Jim reaches for the back of Stifler’s head and his hand gets slapped away.

      Some sociologist will have to look into this ;D

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