Saturday, February 17, 2007

Queer & Loathing

In the New York Times today they have a very interesting article about gay people kissing.

About gay people kissing in public, specifically, and why it's still so scary for so many people to do. Or to show any same-sex affection at all. It might seem like a simplistic and kind of dumb thing to write a whole article about, but I really appreciate the tack they take, which is essentially that for a same-sex couple, especially two men, to hold hands, or especially kiss, in public is still a pretty politically charged thing to do. It takes a conscious decision and is never done casually or thoughtlessly. I don't care how comfortable you are with yourself internally, or what city you live in, if you're two men (or women), and you decide (and yes, it's a decision) to hold hands (or God forbid, kiss!) in public, you know it's a "statement" and you know people will be watching and you feel like you're on display.

It's hard for straight people to understand, even the most empathetic among them, why it's so scary. And why it does feel like something "political." It's something that I think most straight people just take for granted (like getting married) and it's difficult to explain how this affects your behavior and your relationships. One woman they interviewed I think gives a fairly succinct description

After considering herself exclusively lesbian for decades, Sarah Van Arsdale, a novelist, not long ago found, to her surprise, that she had fallen in love with a man. At first, as she wrote last week in an e-mail message from a writer’s colony in Oaxaca, Mexico, “ Whenever we would hold hands in public, I felt a frisson of fear, waiting for the customary dirty looks or at least for the customary looking-away.”

In place of revulsion, Ms. Van Arsdale was startled to discover that, having adjusted her sexual identity, she was now greeted by strangers with approving smiles. “I felt suddenly acceptable and accepted and cute, as opposed to queer,” she said.

It's not an incredibly in-depth article, but worth reading. And bravo to the NYT for running it (and for framing it in political terms; I think that was gutsy for some reason). It's something more people should think about.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

People who love and like each other should kiss in public. People will get used to it, or they won't. Me? I'll applaud either in my mind or if I feel the urge, I'll clap for real.