Before the segment was canceled, I was asked to appear on CNN Headline News last month for a segment about the latest wave of "Lesbian Chic." There had been numerous editorials touting "Heteroflexibility." Though my segment faded into obscurity, I was supposed to talk about whether this was indeed a new trend and what "girls kissing girls" means for fearful parents.
It's a shame it was canceled, because I had lots to say.
I am the first to admit that I downloaded Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" to my iPod. I like the song. But I do think that we are giving Katy too much credit. Seriously, suggesting that she (and her song) is responsible for the supposed wave of same-sex kissing is just silly. Teens have been experimenting with their same-gender friends for years. Many grown men and women had these innocent experiences in their youth. Perhaps the difference is that when we were teens, we didn't make our secret exchanges public. We weren't posting our same-sex kisses on our Facebook profiles. We weren't making out with each other in the hopes of avoiding a cover charge at a party. And we may not have been making out with each other to impress cute boys (or girls). There is a difference between acting out sexually for popularity and acting out sexually because you are in touch with your sexuality.
I have always believed that sexual orientation is fluid. No one is strictly heterosexual or homosexual. Fantasies, personal experiences, and curiosities often waver between gay and straight. And this doesn't mean that you have to act on these desires, either. (For example, there are plenty of women who are aroused by watching lesbian porn but may not have a desire to be physically intimate with another woman.) Both men and women can be attracted to a spectrum of people and experiences throughout their lives. And if that weren't complicated enough, just because someone engages in sex with someone of their gender doesn't mean that he or she is gay, lesbian, or even bisexual. Sexual orientation is about attraction, not behavior. Is it all that surprising that many people are curious? And really, a kiss is just a kiss. It is hardly a gateway to oral sex. And labels are just old news anyway.
But the sex educator in me needs to make this final statement: The real problem with girls kissing girls is that women feel like it's acceptable to make out with one another because there is no overriding stigma for them. Can you imagine if teen boys were doing the same thing? Would they be cheered on and asked out by the hottest people in school? This situation is representative of tremendous inequality. As parents, we should be teaching our children to challenge all forms of double standards and intolerance. We should be teaching them to think about sexual orientation differently. And of course, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or sex, we should be explaining to our children that doing something at the behest of others (or simply to impress someone) makes for very poor decision making. But you can read Third Base Ain't What it Used to Be for more of those tips.
In the end, I suppose that what I am trying to say is that kissing another girl isn't a novel idea. But as adults, perhaps we can be smarter about how we handle it. Any suggestions are always welcome (and if you would like to share your own early same-sex experiences to prove my point, bring 'em on).