Friday, January 30, 2009

The state of Gay PDA today- Are we capable of public displays of affection?

In this month of love I felt it appropriate to write about how we express love with each other and the implications that it may have depending on geography. I visited Jerusalem several years ago and have never forgotten the feeling of injustice I felt when a Palestinian shopkeeper started screaming eptihets in Arabic (you could tell because of the hand gestures) at a straight couple stopping in the market's passageway to kiss each other while holding hands. While being a romantic Kodak moment to my eyes, in Islam (Sharia law) public displays of affection are forbidden and considered offensive, even punishable by prison (yes prison) no matter what country you come from. The couple was so offended and afraid that they walked away very quickly in bewilderment from the angered shopkeeper. I truly felt bad for these two innocent human beings forbidden from loving each other and sharing a beautiful moment, in a city where so many have died for literally thousands of years because of religion and continue to so to this day. Irony is everywhere.
Different cultures express love in so many different ways but thankfully we live in a country where we have a magnaminous new president that enjoys a healthy and happy relationship so much so that he has no qualms with PDA, even on stage at his inauguration. Obama and Michelle have been the most affectionate first couple I've ever seen in my lifetime. I don't think George Bush ever even laid his hands on Laura in the entire 8 years of his presidency. In America it is safe to show affection to one another. Thankfully, the religious right in this country hasn't removed that freedom from us.....yet.
In a country not so far away like Malaysia, it is so offensive to kiss that a tourist couple almost got put in jail for a year for it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4879248.stm
Imagine that you are a adventurous, young, gay couple and you decide to take a trip to see one of the wonders of the modern world; the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur and you decide to take a picture of yourselves kissing underneath the famous air bridge that unites the two buildings. You could find yourself instantly handcuffed and crammed into a surreal 3rd world jail cell a' la Midnight Express.

Since we DON'T live in Jerusalem, Malaysia, Dubai or Iran, etc. then why don't us gays seem absolutely devoid of the ability to show any type of affection for each other in public? Do we fear the anti-gay ghestapo will rappel down from a helicopter and whisk us away to concentration camps? Will latin american gun-men shoot us point blank against a concrete wall? None of the above...why because we live in a FREE and modern country that has no laws against any public displays of affection. This includes everyone gays, lesbians, straight, bisexual, etc. While we wouldn't exactly choose to make out or hold hands in the middle of Yeehaw Junction, Florida we should be able to express our love for one another in an honest, subtle manner whenever we feel so inclined in the same way that straight or bi-racial couples do. Being a Miami native, as a kid we'd go to Disney every summer and I'd often stare at young couples waiting in line, appreciating how they would lean and kiss each other's cheeks while waiting to get on the next ride. I wished that when I grew up I could do the same with my partner. Some 20 odd years later, I CAN do that and do even if it does make my current boyfriend uncomfortable or fearful. I stick to my guns and my belief that one of the most beautiful things to see in this life is people freely showing the love they have for each other at any given moment. It was a pleasing sight at my neighborhood Target to see an attractive blonde girl feeding a chocolate kiss to her black boyfriend and he responding with a sweet pop kiss to her mouth. How wonderful that they can feel free enough to express themselves like that in today's America, then I paused to ask myself when will that time come for "the gays"?

I don't mean we have to be all over each other all of the time but when it's a moment that you feel love for the person you are with, the most natural thing reaction is for you to show it. It takes effort to hold it in and why would you? It's as simple as squeezing their hand while walking, rubbing their backs or even yes god forbid, a pop kiss. If people can say "awww" and find the beauty in two dogs kissing in Lady and the Tramp then I have absolutely no doubt they would find our moments of true and honest love to be equally endearing.
The primary defense that religions use against Gays showing affection in public is that it is damaging to children. After coming back from a recent Carnival Cruise I can confidently tell you what I find offensive and disturbing to children. Obesity is offensive. Families allowing their children to be obese, stuffing their faces at a buffet 5 times a day is offensive. Bad taste in clothing is offensive. Hairy backs on men roasting in the sun is offensive. Extreme acts of violence shown on the afternoon news are offensive. Images of Jesus Christ dead and nailed to a cross are deeply disturbing, people wearing sandals with fungus infected toe nails is disturbing. What messages do those things tell the children of the world? Do we gays really believe that the expression of our love is more offensive than the examples I've described above? Really? What gives them the right to be out and proud with their nasty-as-they-wanna-be-selves and us not to be?

In the same fashion that some gays still remain in the closet even though thousands are out and proud, this is just another form of self-inflicted repression. As I've said before, fear is part perception and part reality. It is a human right in the United States and other democratic countries to be able to express affection for the ones you love within the norms of society, of course. I don't think anyone wants to see two people slobbering all over each other at a dinner table, unless you're a pervert but at the same time you wouldn't arrest them from doing so. You have the choice of just looking away. T'is the beauty of living in a free country.

I'd love to see the day when gay and lesbian couples all over America and other free nations, show the world that we don't just have hot sex but that we do love, we do express affection for one another, that our love is true and yes, inoffensive. Just make sure you aren't in Dubai before you do (that goes for the straights too).

A warning from the UK to travelers visiting arabic countries: http://www.newser.com/story/46369/no-pda-cheating-in-muslim-nations-uk-warns-travelers.html

Heinz pulls their ad of two gay men kissing because it was deemed to offensive to children: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-8125.html

5 comments:

Crazygirl said...

You finally came back...I've been waiting for your next post forever... :o)
It's so freaking sad that gays couple are afraid of PDA...The thing is, our society is not ready for this. I don't know if it's our Miami...full of latinamerican "mashistas" (men and women) with that old-fashioned thinking. I've been to San Francisco twice and I saw that gay couples are more accepted (I can be wrong): NYC too. It's definitely cultural and religious. What I don't understand is the american double-standards. This is a free country, free-thinking, free everything...but people are afraid of say what they think, what they feel...
Why?? As you said...it is more offensive that hairy back than a PDA of a gay couple.
Same with the african-american, bi-racial couples...darn it! what's wrong with this country?

la fairy azul said...

prefiero ver a dos hombres o a dos mujeres besándose antes que tantas otras cosas desagradables e inevitalbes. un beso entre una pareja enamorada es lo más bello de este mundo.
qué se besen, qué se besen...

EricInMiami said...

THanks CrazyGirl! i'm so glad you follow what i write...and that you like it. ;-) Why because fear disables the greatest of people. that's my theory. keep on reading...stay tuned for my gay valentine's day tips that apply to anyone, of course...abrazos,
eric

Crazygirl said...

Besos!!

steve tabárez said...

I just loved this post. Have read it like 11 times. So many angles, so many musings, so many things to ponder. Me has dejado adorandote. Maybe someday we needn't worry about PDA.
EVER! No. No me creo.