Debate is taking place among gays about the recent Chick-fil-A kiss-in protests. Are they an effective tool for combating anti-gay policies, speech and law? Or are they too confrontational; providing our opponents with potential propaganda they can use stymie our equality by playing on stereotypes and whippping up irrational fears about gay people? I belive the former; that they are effective protests and here’s why:
The reason that people create laws, make policy or speak out against gay people is to make us feel shame. It’s to make us closet ourselves. It’s to make us be not “all in their face” about it. It is to degrade us and take our pride from us. It is to say you can be gay, but don’t act on it.
Kiss-ins push back against this. It is a demonstrable way we say “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” It is to say to those who would prefer to shame us into the closet, we refuse to be there. Our love, lives and relationships are just as valid as any heterosexual couple. When we demand the right of equality, it is not only the law but also the freedom to act in a way toward our partner the same as any other as any other couple: holding hands, embracing and, yes, kissing.
Secondly, we help to remove the shame of those who, as of this time, aren’t able to be out themselves. As Carly McGehee, who helped to organize the kiss-ins, says in a Huffington Post article:
“Tonight is for those kids that are growing up in, say, a small town in Texas, like I did, so that they can see that they’re not different, that they’re loved and accepted and they shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are,” McGehee said. She also hopes to show the world that the American people “aren’t going stand for discrimination and intolerance.” — ‘Chick-fil-A Kiss-Ins Divide LGBT Movement’; The Huffington Post; August 3, 2012
McGehee is right. This isn’t just for us. It’s for kids who live in those unhospitable or unwelcoming places to look to a gay couple and finding some solice in knowing what’s possible. Thats me. That can be my future. In removing the shame factor for ourselves in these protests, we also remove it for others not taking part.
Which brings us to the ‘ick’ factor that Pam Spaulding, blogmistress for Pam’s House Blend, noted in her posting ‘Will the Chick-fil-A ‘kiss-ins’ help or hurt?’:
The kiss-in seems more like a stunt for shock value that the fundies will try capitalize on by tying the action to sex acts that they abhor. The “ick” factor has been one of the major issues these folks cling to, like it or not.
Gay kissing isnt any more icky than straight kissing, which can be quite icky. Remember the words of Eleanor Rosevelt in this situation: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” My gay brothers and sisters, stop giving the other side that consent. If we think and act like gay kissing is ‘ick’ then it will be. If we act as though it is the normal part of a relationship, as we all know it is, then, we remove the power of the ‘ick’:
straight people kiss in public all the time and I don’t have a problem with it, why should it be any different for LGBT people?” —Nikki Wooden, kiss-in participant; ‘Chick-fil-A Kiss-Ins Divide LGBT Movement’; The Huffington Post; August 3, 2012
It shouldn’t be any different and we are moving toward that day with each pucker.