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You must remember this, a kiss isn't just a kiss

By Michael M. Bates
web posted July 25, 2005

It was Sunday evening at a casual Orland Park restaurant. A couple, in their late 20s or early 30s, held hands, deeply kissed and couldn't take their hands off one another. The young lovers were both men. Often in articles relating to changing social mores, the writer begins by assuring readers he's no prude. That's not happening here.

I live a sheltered life by design. I know that I'm an old fogy, a fuddy-duddy and a stuffed shirt. Oh, and of course a curmudgeon too. Even if that weren't the case, though, I think seeing these two characters in action, and I do mean action, would have been a disquieting experience.

A young, if you'll pardon the expression, heterosexual couple with a child was also present. They cast disapproving looks at the frisky twosome on their way out. I'll bet they absolutely loved having to explain to Junior, who looked to be about six, what he'd just been exposed to.

The location of the incident lent to its unsettling effect. If it were in a bar on Chicago's north side or Gay Day at Disney World or someplace like that, it wouldn't have been as unexpected. But this was Orland Park for heaven's sake. In a family restaurant, if that term is yet used. It appears as though the homosexual revolution is spreading even into the bastions of solid traditionalism.

Some gay activists perform public displays of affection in a calculated desire to stir things up. Getting in your face is certainly one way to do that.

A couple of gals, possibly bored with another mediocre Los Angeles season, tossed a lip lock on one another during a Dodger game a few years back. One of the women had been a porn actress, but surely that had nothing to do with this bid for notoriety. Another fan, obviously a narrow minded bigot, complained and the osculating duo was tossed out.

Falling back on the great American dream of finding someone with deep pockets to sue, the ladies threatened legal action. The team's owner folded like a cheap suit. He was troubled, he shared with anyone who'd listen, about what the incident implied about his organization.

So he gave 5,000 free tickets to gay and lesbian organizations and the triumphant couple was treated to behind the plate seats. Stadium staff members weren't overlooked in the boss's beneficence. They were given, at no expense to them, sensitivity training.

Through the years, gay "kiss ins" have been organized at various public venues, including college campuses. Even allegedly Catholic institutions such as DePaul University have annual "Queer Kiss Ins."

Not that all homosexual displays of affection are political statements. Perhaps, as with outrageous shows put on by heterosexual couples, there is an element of exhibitionism in some of them. Look at us. We're just dying for attention and want to rock your world. Little wonder that "get a room" has become a catchphrase.

Then there are the displays that are genuine expressions of caring. Just as there is extensive homosexual promiscuity, there are also couples who establish and maintain long-term, in some instances lifelong, relationships.

Most Americans may not approve of gay marriage or using sexual preference (you may prefer "orientation") as the basis for civil rights legislation. But many, maybe most, also think that adults generally have the right to live their lives as they see fit.

Call me a homophobe, but I don't believe overt kissing, cuddling, petting, you name it, will win any undecideds over. Some things are better not done in public.

The technical reason for this is, as I best recall, the ick factor. I'll have to check the old fogy handbook to make sure.
I don't have a "right" not to be offended, just a preference. And we certainly don't need any new laws. We already have too many of them. A little common sense and consideration, on the part of straights, gays and anything in between, should suffice.

This appears in the July 21, 2005 Oak Lawn (IL) Reporter. Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths.


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