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I have lost count of how many times I have felt the need to swap seats on the tube, in a bar, or even in a library because of a kissing couple. I know it does not bother some people, but I get wound up into a fury at the blatant and unnecessary display of bad manners of people who find either find it impossible to control themselves in public, or are such exhibitionists that they take extra pleasure from canoodling in public.
 
When I heard the news, therefore, of the kerfuffle over the kissing gay couple in Soho I felt momentarily torn. Jonathan Williams and James Bull, young gay men out on their first date, had enjoyed a nice dinner before moving on to the John Snow, a pub on the edge of gay-friendly Soho. The pub is a friendly venue which welcomes a mix of folk, and on the occasions I have been there, gay and straight customers appeared to blend easily together.  
 
During the evening the men began kissing, and were soon asked "politely" by a customer to stop because it was "bothering him".
 
The couple refused to leave, and continued kissing. Eventually, the landlady told them to leave as they were being "obscene". The original complainant then joined in and took hold of Williams's coat lapels, amid protestations of the couple's innocence.
 
Inundated via Twitter, Facebook, newspapers and numerous web sites and blogs with stories about the so-called homophobic attack on the men I was expected, as a lesbian,  to sympathise. A number of protest groups have sprung up since the incident, and couples, gay and straight have been planning to teach the staff at the John Snow a lesson, with hundreds pledging to attend "kiss-ins" both there and at other Samuel Smith-owned venues.
 
Williams and Bull say that their treatment by the bar staff was inappropriate and heavy handed, and I agree that it seems over the top to attempt to physically eject the men from the pub for such a minor misdemeanour. But was it homophobia? As a lesbian, and a life-long campaigner against anti-gay bigotry I can honestly say I do not know.

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Kristofski
May 6th, 2011
12:05 PM
I like how you say "I am not comparing kissing in a pub to having sex in a public toilet or park" then go on to compare kissing in a pub to having sex in a public toilet or park.

Lew
May 3rd, 2011
3:05 PM
I'm with the author's friend on this. It is naff if you're over 15. And I'm with the author too: I've moved away from couples voraciously chowing down on each others' faces in public too. There are distinctions to be made here. Glimpsing a stolen kiss between a couple as you pass them in the park as you walk by can leave you with a faint glow. But in a crowded bar, or a restaurant, or on public transport, persistent snogging is just very annoying, particularly if you can hear it. It's like someone eating noisily or picking their nose. I say this as a gay man who at 24, in London, deliberately tongue snogged my partner in a straight bar in London for the benefit of the woman across from us peering over her Daily Mail disapprovingly. We elicited a "bleugh" from her. After the initial small sense of triumph, I felt an equally small sense of shame. It was puerile. To have made an issue of it like this couple just renders them bimbos. They are the gay equivalent of dumb evangelicals hollowing out religious freedom laws. Pathetic, stupid, spiteful and hollow. They do an absolute disservice to people suffering real discrimination.

Anonymous
April 29th, 2011
3:04 PM
Strikes me that the line of homophobia was crossed when the kissing was termed "obscene". Would that person have said that if a heterosexual couple in their 20's was doing it? I doubt it, since that display is common all around London town.

sparafucile
April 22nd, 2011
12:04 PM
These days it is perfectly acceptable to express all kinds of prejudices. You can rant on about bankers, Americans, Christians or estate agents in the most intemperate language, and there is no chance that any BBC studio would pull the plug. By what magic means does a minority gain protected status? And perhaps even more to the point, why is it always assumed that militant gay rights activists speak for all homosexuals? Perhaps my experience is atypical, but most of the homosexuals I have met do not consider their sexual orientation the most important part of their identity. I certainly don't feel that what I do in bed is of the slightest interest to anyone else, and I think there is something weird and repellent about anyone who parades their sexual orientation. Indeed, if we ever want to have a cohesive society, we have to think in terms of our common humanity, and abandon divisive identity politics.

Fleur Black
April 19th, 2011
10:04 PM
Several yaers ago I went into a gay pub in Bradford and was amused at two lesbians desperately snogging before hurrying out into the rain to someplace more conducive to sex. Bindel's BRSS has now progressed to the point she abhors all public displays of affection.

London Man
April 19th, 2011
8:04 PM
Just to points for sake of clarity: i) Witnesses have said the kisses were not heavy full on passionate face eating. ii) Cottaging is sex in public toilets, cruising areas are out door venues that may actually be quite private such as parks at 2:00am.

Lou Hart
April 19th, 2011
4:04 PM
Just because you, Julie, do not like public displays of affection ( or even those which straddle the line of sexuality and affection) does not mean that this was not a homophobic incident. According to the gay men involved, they exchanged a kiss with their 'hands on the table ' -and other heterosexuals were in the John Snow kissing without being asked to leave. If this is true then it is homophobia and the fact that they were 'physically removed' constitutes assault. I do not think it has anything to do with cottaging. It is very easy to ignore homophobia or transphobia for that matter in the interests of 'so called public decency' but this notion is exactly what was used to fuel the charge of 'gross indecency' - which, if it was gross in anyway, it was that it was only used against gay men who might be kissing on a beach or holding hands or, heaven forbid! - having a snog.

Miriam
April 19th, 2011
4:04 PM
I find this sexual kissing in public between any couples very disrespectful. I did it whenI was a teenager and then I grew up! I don't think it is appropriate behaviour in a pub and I would certainly have been saying something myself had I been there. HOWEVER. There is homophobia in this country, it fuels all aspects of our culture and actions to some extent. That this fuelled the landlords response is without question, which is why they over reacted and were heavy handed. Het men can't cope with the challenge of Gay men and this added to the testosterone fuelled incident! The ridiculous media response to the incident is laughable. I think these two men are playing to the gallery.

Pat Fenn
April 19th, 2011
10:04 AM
I am little bit disagree with above comments. Many people are still in oppose of Gayness. Many of them do not allow this relation as in public in which Kissing and holding hand comes. As Many Government policies have claimed that It is approved but still there are many cultural people who don't want their sons to come in this category and because of that they still Opposing this trend. I am nobody to say whether it is right or wrong. But only one thing is there, Its all related with your Life, if you feel to kiss each other go for it.

Richard Calhoun
April 18th, 2011
5:04 PM
You are absolutely right, be it gay or hetrosexual, I too find it objectionable when people choose to 'canoodle ' in public.

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