'Kiss-Kiss-Bang Bang!' Will You Celebrate National Kissing Day with a PDA?


June 22 is National Kissing Day which, the website National Today says, "is all about showing your love and improving your health. That's right, kissing is actually good for you – #wellness. Kissing relieves stress, burns calories, and benefits your immunity. With so many perks, we can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to celebrate, so pucker up!"

The site continues to provide a history of kissing, citing that "the earliest references to kissing traces back to India, with four major texts in the Vedic Sanskrit literature referencing the supposed earliest forms of kissing. Dating from 1500 B.C., these texts describe 'kissing' as the act of rubbing and pressing noses together. Fast forward to 326 B.C. and kissing became mainstream thanks to the army of Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander, his army spread out – as did the act of kissing."

The Romans made kissing part of social culture, even making rules – such as if a virgin was kissed passionately in public, she could demand marriage – around the act. On the site, they offer a timeline.

But what of queer PDAs? They are becoming more frequent, but there remains a level of stress. "Although Western societies celebrate progress in the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ*) people, this incident emphasizes that LGBTQ* couples still risk violent reactions when displaying PDA," writes Michelle Stammwitz and Janet Wessler in a paper on how stress impacts enjoyment for queer couples in different social settings. Stress, they concluded, was higher in city center settings than campus ones, concluding "a protective context can powerfully promote healthy LGBTQ* relationship behavior."

Gareth and Subomi on "I Kissed a Boy"
Source: BBC

But stress levels remain high, preventing many from following through with PDAs. A study released last December from Britain "found 67 per cent of people have avoided holding hands in the past 12 months, for fear of a negative response," reported PinkNews. The study, conducted by Pride Wide in collaboration with Barefoot Wine, surveyed 1,063 LGBTQ+ people in the UK between 22 September and 9 October 2023.

Amongst other findings are: holding hands also made some feel self-conscious (33 per cent), anxious (30 per cent) and unsafe (23 per cent). Additionally, eight in 10 LGBTQ+ people (83 per cent) agreed that hand holding can be a powerful act of visibility and nearly half (43 per cent) said they feel validated and safer when they see others holding hands.

A huge 85 per cent also said they want to see more LGBTQ+ people holding hands in public.

And kiss on the television. Last season BBC Three had a new hit reality show "I Kissed a Boy," whose premise is that its ten contestants are matched "...with a kiss. No small talk. No messages. Just one kiss to test out their chemistry", reads the show's Wiki. The first season, hosted by Dannii Minogue, aired a year ago in Britain. It can be seen in the US on Hulu.

Subomi, one of the contestants, told BBC Three that being a gay man can mean he's sometimes guarded in public when meeting people he doesn't know.

"I'm always very conscious of who is around and trying to make sure what I'm doing doesn't draw too much attention."

The 29-year-old recalled at least one instance of being harassed in public, when he was on a busy train on the way home from a concert with his sister.

"The guy opposite us was staring me down," Subomi says, adding that the man then began to rant about gay people. He even asked Subomi: "Is your family proud of you?"

A May 2023 BBC Three-commissioned poll, of 501 gay men over 16 years old, suggests 55% of respondents have experienced discrimination in public because they are gay.

And 53% of gay men say they have experienced some sort of discrimination while engaging in public displays of affection - 38% while kissing with a partner.

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