Last month I kissed my boyfriend on the subway. We've been together for 12 years, and I like kissing him in public. It feels good to show the world that I have a person to love and who loves me back. Suddenly a guy who had just kissed the girl next to him came over and said, "It is disgusting to have to watch you people make out." We were not making out. It was a brief, loving peck on the cheek, nothing more. I was tempted to punch the idiot, but the coward slipped through the closing doors before I could confront him.
I have a dear straight friend who keeps telling me that the gay movement has got it all wrong. He says that sexuality is a private matter and that people should not go on and on about it. I think such views are nonsense. Sex may be a private matter, but sexuality is not.
No matter how often conservatives repeat the privacy argument, sexuality is a public matter. It is a matter of record. We take our mates to public functions, we hold their hands on the sidewalk, and we show them off at our friends' parties. As innocuous as these displays may seem to straight people, they are difficult, courageous public statements of sexuality for gay people. Our partners, by the very nature of their gender, define our sexuality.
It is understandable that conservative straight people who are not accustomed to gay lifestyles may at one point in their lives find gays offensive. I do not hold it against them. Tolerance is a difficult learning process, and acceptance is an enormous challenge, especially for people who actually believe that ancient holy texts offer some kind of guidance in our complex modern world. But for attitudes to change, visibility is paramount.
If we want to make the world a more tolerant place, gays do need to be more visible, and not just in the Castro. (We did our kissing on the Tokyo subway, by the way.) There is enough room to challenge people's attitudes without breaking the law or ending up as a censored YouTube clip. You can express your pride and sexuality; a sweet kiss is enough. If another passenger tells you that "you are disgusting," you are not infringing on his freedom, but you are challenging his bigotry, and bigotry must always be challenged.
So back we went for another ride, and again we kissed, this time on the mouth, tongues and all. My hubby tasted of pineapple. And would you believe it? Two guys saw us, gave us a thumbs up, and started kissing themselves. It's nice to see affectionate people in public. Our next plan is to join a kissing marathon. Unfortunately, the last one did not allow same-sex couples. Well, we'll just have to do it on the subway, then. Come here, baby... get your chapstick out.
Marten Weber is a published author. Find out more on www.martenweber.com.