VDay kisses

For Valentine’s Day, sexual (rather than social) kisses. And since this is my blog, male-male kisses, which have moved me since I was a child. The spurs being some male-male kisses recently in the news, plus a Daniel Mendelsohn piece in Out magazine, “Gay TV and Me: How my life would be different if boys were kissing boys onscreen 40 years ago — like they are today” on 9/20/12.

First, some boys kissing:

(#1) Cover photo for the YA (young adult) novel Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (2013), a much-challenged book

On the Levithan book. From Wikipedia:

(#2) The book cover

Two Boys Kissing, published in 2013, was written by American author David Levithan. Inspired by true events, the book follows two 17-year-old boys who set out to break a Guinness World Record by kissing for 32 hours. The book includes a “Greek chorus” of the generation of gay men who died of AIDS. Throughout the narrative, the book discusses topics such as relationships, coming out, gender identity, and hook-up culture.

Two Boys Kissing has frequently been challenged. The book has landed on the American Library Association’s Top 10 List of Challenged Books three times: 2015, 2016, and 2018 because of homosexual and sexually-explicit content, as well as because it condones public displays of affection.

Partners for life. Then, from the 2021 animated film Flee, a moment of domestic affection in Amin’s new, free life, after growing up under a repressive regime that was especially hostile to queers like him:


On the film, from Wikipedia:

(#4) Promotional release poster

Flee (Danish: Flugt) is a [much-acclaimed] 2021 international co-production animated documentary film directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.

… The film follows Amin Nawabi, who, on the verge of marrying his husband, shares his story for the first time about his hidden past fleeing his home country of Afghanistan [via Russia] to Denmark as a refugee.

Mendelsohn’s piece:

Most of us begin our long histories of desiring in our early teens, and the longings that impel us then, and the fantasies they create, haunt us long afterward, often for the rest of our lives.

In the case of people my age, born in the 1960s, teenagers in the 1970s, before the tectonic sociological shifts of the 1980s that finally put gay people and their issues front and center in American culture, those longings were, more often than not, frustrated and ashamed. The idea of finding true love — mutual love — in high school was, quite simply, unimaginable.

…  It’s difficult today to convey how utterly isolated you felt as a gay child growing up in the ’60s and ’70s. This isn’t to say that it’s not still an ordeal for many: As we know, the bullying and terror and torment are just as prevalent in many places. But one crucial thing has changed. The gay teen today has grown up in a culture that has become pretty casual about representations of gay people — in movies, TV, music, literature, advertising. And then there’s the Internet: Access to information, discussion groups, and forums can at least give a gay youngster some notion of what being gay might be like and who’s actually out there.

Part of the torture of growing up gay 40 years ago, by contrast, was precisely that there was nothing out there that you could look at and say, “That’s me.” If you secretly liked other boys, you were pretty much convinced that you were the only boy in the world who had these feelings about other boys — or that, if you weren’t, there was no way to make contact with them. The only place to see another gay boy was in the mirror.

And what little there was on TV and movie screens was pretty scary.

My view comes from a full generation before Mendelsohn’s. Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, not the 1960s and 1970s. The 60s and 70s were my young adulthood, and the world changed extraordinarily around me during that time. These changes brought me my first male lover and then the man who would become my husband-equivalent — both of whom I lived with openly (the full story is vastly more complex than this, of course).

But as children Mendelsohn and I both lacked any model for our desire to kiss and be kissed by other males (of whatever age).

Even now, even now. From my 2/18/19 posting “Film watch: men kissing men”:

As furors break out here and there over same-sex kisses in the media (especially in ads) and also in real life (in public places) — disgusting! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! get that out of my sight! — I move to celebrate them. Especially men kissing men, an act that enrages a fair number of people, apparently because they have been conditioned to view it as the functional equivalent of two sweaty naked men fucking. I view it as the functional equivalent of a man and woman kissing: an act of romantic connection with a spicy tang of sexual attraction (but no more)

And so I come to two recent British films viewed on Netflix: The Pass (Russell Tovey and Arinzé Kene as footballers) and God’s Own Country (Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu as Yorkshire sheep farmers). Both are fraught love stories set in intensely masculine working-class social worlds. With wonderful performances. And man-on-man kissing, both touching and moving.

… It was 1971 when Peter Finch and Murray Head brought us the first man-on-man kiss to catch serious attention in an English-language film (in Sunday Bloody Sunday), and that was a Very Big Thing. Things have moved, but slowly, since then, and even now, films like The Pass and God’s Own Country are marketed primarily to gay audiences. Still, there’s been Brokeback Mountain and some other films, and Glee and some other tv shows (though it took forever for Will & Grace to get around to letting Will kiss another man). But same-sex kisses are still edgy things, far from the everyday, probably needing to be shielded from children. Maybe in another 48 years that will no longer be so.

Sex for view, and kisses too. Meanwhile, through a series of court cases, pornography of all sorts became available in my country. And now it’s easy to come by male art and photography (some of it X-rated) featuring male-male kisses; at the same time, most gay porn films are gratifyingly packed with kissing.

On the first front, there’s the male art of Tom of Finland, featuring exaggeratedly hunky men with gigantic penises, engaging in all manner of sexual acts, punctuated with kissing. Here’s a 1981 (untitled) drawing (from the Tom of Finland Original Art page on Facebook) that shows only the kiss:


On the gay porn front, from my 2/2/22 posting “2/2/22”:

A moving Cruz-Crosse kiss, hard-core sodomy with a pink umbrella of osculation in it: Steve Cruz on Damien Crosse’s lap, while they execute a mutually pleasurable Reverse Cowboy — Crosse’s [penis] plunged into Cruz’s [body] — and kiss (cropped image from a 2/1/22 ad for a Raging Stallion Studios porn sale)

Since I was a child, I have desired kisses with other men. I have been moved, all through my life, by fantasies of kissing men and being kissed by them, by seeing men kiss, and then when I was sexually active (long ago), by kissing them and being kissed by them.

In most gay porn, the actors kiss constantly, inaugurating their sexual interactions with kisses; punctuating their [penis]- and [anus]-focused acts with kisses; and closing off with kisses expressing satisfaction and gratitude. This pleases me enormously.

This blog has a Page on postings about men kissing. More are coming.

Two early postings on this blog that led to that Page, with moving photos of male-male kisses:

— from my 11/4/10 posting “o m g”:

(#7) Male photographer David Vance’s photo “Kiss”

— from my 3/25/13 posting “Men kissing”:

(#8) From a Just us Kissing blog

A musical bonus. It’s sung by a woman (Leigh Nash), but it’s addressed to a man, and it has a glittery, extravagant, fairy-land feel to it that just cries out for a version sung by a gay man (or by Antony and the Johnsons). From Wikipedia:

“Kiss Me” is a song by American pop rock band Sixpence None the Richer from their self-titled third album (1997). The ballad was released as a single on August 12, 1998, in the United States and was issued in international territories the following year.

… The original music video, directed by producer Steve Taylor and filmed in Paris, France, pays tribute to French filmmaker François Truffaut and his film Jules et Jim, made in black and white and recreating many of the classic scenes from the film. Two alternate versions of the video were also released later, which featured the band sitting on a park bench, performing and watching scenes from either She’s All That or Dawson’s Creek on a portable television or projected on an outdoor screen.

In the YouTube “Official Music Video” you can watch here, they’re watching films and videos of their own performances.

Lyrics for the chorus:

Oh, kiss me, beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon’s sparkling
So kiss me

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