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Kissing boys in public

06/06/2010

All the many years I thought myself straight, I had a fair number of gay friends. At certain times and places – AIDS charity events where gays outnumbered straights, for example – lots of the guys would do the kiss-the-air-beside-the-cheek routine. Some went with a discrete peck on the lips.

I found this strange and fascinating. Not sure why really, since straight people do the same thing with such utterly ridiculous abandon. (Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry was ostracized because he refused to do the cheek-kiss thing with casual acquaintances?) Just an example of my life before the blinkers came off.

Now that I’m out there workin’ it, I enjoy this ritual. It’s affirming, to use a sort of gaggy term. It’s something I can do to identify myself as gay. Sort of like wearing a tutu, but without arousing as much comment. (Not to say that you shouldn’t wear a tutu if that’s what you want to do. I’m down with whatever floats your boat.)

But, enjoying a little non-erotic kiss with a another man in public requires observing a few basics. I learned this lesson early on, among friends fortunately, at a jam-packed bar on a Saturday night. I was several drinks into the evening, when I spotted an old acquaintance – a former client, actually. I knew he was gay when we worked together, but I hadn’t really given it much thought. Now, however, it seemed sort of important. He smiled and nodded and I headed over to say hello. As I leaned in for a smooch, I failed to notice until too late that he had frozen stiff and his smile had turned into a clenched-teeth sort of thing. In my “I’m out! Hallelujah!” enthusiasm, I missed the signals.

As it turns out, this guy just isn’t the kissy-kissy type. But the point is I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Not necessarily. I felt like a total dork, and that clouded what was otherwise a pretty hilarious evening.

What to do? It isn’t really all that different from social kissing in the straight world.

  • Watch for signals. Body language helps.
  • Imagine him as a straight woman. Do you know this gal well enough to give her a hug and a peck on the cheek?
  • If in doubt, don’t.

And one more thing. The good news is that social boy-kissing is a lot more likely to be on the lips than social kissing in the straight world. As I’m sure you know, lip-kissing a woman in public can get dicey unless you don’t care if you get decked by her escort/lover/husband-type person. Much, much easier in the gay world. Don’t haul off and slip him your tongue – unless maybe he does it first and you really want to. But a little kiss on the lips can be really nice. And it might lead to more …

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