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Ramon Johnson

Public Displays of Affection

By December 10, 2006

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A kiss in the car; holding hands at the park; feeding each other at the dinner table... The love/hate relationship between people and public displays of affection is all a matter of perspective. To onlookers, seeing two people in constant skin-to-skin contact in public is indicative of bad taste. To the P.D.A. participants, the world has a population of two- them and their partner. All else is background.

Images of heterosexual P.D.A. have been implanted in our minds since many of us were old enough to stare aimlessly at the tube. Our families celebrated childhood P.D.A. as a cute boy/girl crush and the straight adults in our lives used it to solidify their relationships. However, seeing two strangers lip-locked is often taken as a gesture in bad taste that some believe should be confined to private areas. Does the same principle apply to same-gender-loving couples?

Gay is OK... Just Don't Show It
An old acquaintance of mine once told me, "I have no problem with gay people. They can do whatever they want. I just don't want it thrown in my face when I walk down the street." He was referring to gay men holding hands or kissing in public. (True acceptance doesn't come with restrictions, so needless to say we are no longer associated.) Is gay P.D.A. less likely to be accepted?

Before You Pull Out The Mistletoe...
Some believe P.D.A. is more than a matter of taste, but safety. Todd X from Metroblogging San Francisco recalls being assaulted with a water bottle for his public display.
"I was saying goodbye to a friend- one of those 'you should really come over to my place instead of going home alone' goodbyes. And, while trying to tempt the boy, a car drove by, the occupants yelled 'faggots' and tossed a bottle of Aquafina at us. Outrageous! I deserve to be bashed with Evian at least! Or Metromint."
Interestingly enough, it's highly unlikely a heterosexual couple embracing in public would be accosted by a water bottle, regardless of the level of taste (no pun intended). Same-gender-loving people should have the same choice of faux pas without fear of violence, P.D.A. fans or not.

Images © Julia Freeman-Woolpert and Aaron Young respectively.
December 13, 2006 at 11:02 pm
(1) Peter Butler says:

I have always felt that certain P.D.A.s were publically acceptable and others were not, regardless of the orientation of the participants.
A kiss, holding hands, walking with arms around each other show people that the participants are together. They are mated and they are unavailable to the pool.
French kissing, reaching for the crotch, etc. are things that should be conducted discretely. Whether the participants are gay or straight, these actions are publically unacceptable. If not for the ludness of the action then because it is hard enough for the lonely single to see other people together and remain alone, it is worse to see people doing everything but having sex in public.
My boyfriend and I have a deal, he remains polite in public and I will get rude in private. It works for both of us; morally for me, sexually for him.

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