The Effectiveness of Kiss-Ins

Remember those Islamic protesters at the Global Atheist Convention? I neglected to mention this excellent response to their gibberish, courtesy of Gregory Storer:

My partner Michael and I took advantage of the moment to kiss in front of the group. We understand that in some Islamic States gay people are persecuted and executed for their sexuality. It was an ideal opportunity to challenge the notion of acceptance and tolerance. As we began kissing, the muslims began chanting, burn in hell.

In fact, kiss-ins are really popular ways to draw attention away from homophobes. Plus, it just pisses them off. Win-win!

It’s happened with the Pope

… and in front of campus preachers

… and just for the sake of solidarity with the LGBT community:

They should just have these kiss-ins at every Mitt Romney campaign event…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ndonnan

    What might seem like a good idea when your drinking with your mates,isnt going to improve the public perception of athiests.

    • M J Shepherd

       No, this is a great idea. For LGBTQI, their allies, and atheists.

      Who’s being more inclusive?

    • Earthexile

      If a demonstration of love and affection and acceptance makes people look down on atheists, I don’t WANT their approval.

      • Jean-Paul Marat

        If the same kiss-in tactics were used during the civil rights movement (with mix-raced couples instead of same-sex couples) then I can guarantee you integrationism would have been even less popular than it was and would have faced more resistance than it did.

        There’s an important difference between wanting to be provocative and wanting to be thought-provoking. Guess which this tactic is?

        • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant

          How exactly do you plan to back up that guarantee?

          What exactly is wrong with being provocative? It’s only provocative to those who the action is aimed at, which is exactly the point.

          • Jean-Paul Marat

            I know this is satire, but I think it makes my point:

            http://www.theonion.com/articles/gaypride-parade-sets-mainstream-acceptance-of-gays,351/

            tl;dr: Instead of making gays and atheists seem normal, being provocative only makes the worst stereotypes seem true in the minds of conservatives AND moderates.

            • Patterrssonn

              “Instead of making gays … seem normal.”?

              I hate to break this to you but gays are ‘normal’. If ‘”moderates” can’t handle gay men kissing then they’re hardly moderate are they.
              And why would anyone give a shit about conservatives when being provocative basically means being gay.

              So we should all hide our atheism and sexuality and hope that one day the bigots will just spontaneously accept us.

            • Jim Henline


              Instead of making gays and atheists seem normal”

              “gays and atheists seem normal”

              “seem normal”

              Just.. Really just go back into a hole a die.
              Atheism is the default stance of every human being on this planet, how much more normal do you want to get.

              Homosexuality and asexuality has been observed in hundreds of species across the globe as the norm. 

              If anything a straight person who hates others because of how they feel is the abnormal one. 

            • Mikey

               LOL Jean- Paul – that satire makes me laugh even as the flaming queen i am.

              who gives a fuck about the conservatives and the moderates, when within the members of our own communities some including me  “second guess” simple gestures such as pushing some ones hair out of their eyes or touching them when they tell a funny with out having a projectile thrown at them

              This reminds me that i am not alone, a not to fear showing my loved one how i feel no matter who is watching

              controversy aside, frankly enough, i cant wait for the day that this is not even news.

            • brianmacker

              Don’t you think their might be a difference between a kiss and say anal sex in public?    Hell, if a  heterosexual atheist couple protested the Islamists by having anal sex in public (and heterosexuals do that you know) then I’d agree with you.    Didn’t happen.  It was a kiss not pornography.

        • CBrachyrhynchos

          One of the whole points of kiss-ins is that we’re talking about something that’s utterly uncontroversial and ubiquitous when done by straight people, an act that’s been celebrated in fine art, photojournalism, and cinema, and is a central part of American wedding rituals.

          Back in the civil rights era, interracial kissing was similarly controversial. 

          • brianmacker

            Exactly.   I’ve been told to get a room as a heterosexual for public displays of affection, but never been screamed at that I’m going to hell.    Where heterosexual kisses are appropriate (and they are not always appropriate) then homosexual kisses should be.     Hell, heterosexual men kiss men all the time in other cultures and it isn’t even considered a problem. 

        • jdm8

          The comparison would be apt if you said mixed-race couples were kissing publicly while they were fighting against
          anti-miscegenation laws.  Those laws were finally struck down by the US Supreme Court, popularity had little to do with it.

        • brianmacker

          Huh?  What possible evidence could you provide?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

       I really don’t understand your comment. The public perception that atheists are not homophobes? Or at least, a larger amount of them than the religious are not homophobes? I would say that’s a good thing. By the way, it’s spelled “atheists.”

      • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant

        He also misspelled “you’re” and “isn’t.” ;-)

        • mikey

           oh how very proscriptionist of you….. language ability is ment for communicaiton, if that is acompished than who gives a flying F if has been done with grammer and spellling that does not conform….. ghoti, take a leaf from shaw 

          • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant

            Chill dude, I was just being 
            tongue-in-cheek  pedantic. 
            And seriously, proscriptionist? Hyperbole much?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

            Also, I get bugged when people act as if proper grammar and spelling should not be used outside an English classroom. I mean, that is the point of learning proper grammar. To be able to apply it to the real world. It would also be different if red lines didn’t pop up under misspelled words.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

              Although, it could just be that I’m an English major :)

              • brianmacker

                So how do I tell poor grammar from a typo, and why should I even care in a comment section?  It’s not like I paid for a book.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                   I’d say ease-of-reading. When we have rules of grammar that everyone adheres to, that makes communication easier.

          • Ndonnan

            Why thank you Mikey,ive been told off about 6 times now for my poor spelling.Im new to computers and my son isnt always around to ask,ive heard about spell check and im sure its in here somewhere.xxx

            • amycas

               You should be able to use contractions correctly without the aid of spell check. In any case, if you’re not sure of the spelling of a word, just type it into google, and it will show you the correct spelling.

              • Ndonnan

                thanks

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Are you sure you’re not substituting your perception for ‘public’ perception?  Men kissing in public is a negative for you.  And maybe even for a majority because they have been socialized to see it as wrong.  But exactly why?  Exactly who does it harm?  Men kissing in public doesn’t hurt anyone.

      This reminds me of a clip I saw yesterday.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2NduSCLiMA  I won’t time stamp it, but my real point is at 3:45.  it’s an old Candid Camera thing, and they’re making people do stupid things via group pressure.  But note: “Now we’ll see if we can use group pressure for some good”.  The ‘good’ in this case, is getting a man to take his hat off in an elevator.  Ya.  This is a video about how silly it is to conform to the group for no reason, and they’ve made the assumption that taking off your hat in the elevator is ‘good’.  Why?  What’s good about it?  What’s not good about wearing it?

      So again, how is public kissing either good or bad?  You may not like it, but by that logic we can require ugly people to wear masks, right?

      Coincidentally I also saw  Neil deGrasse Tyson quote at about the same time:

      For me, I am driven by two main philosophies.  Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday.  And lessen the suffering of others.  You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

      Even assuming the Muslim protesters actually suffer from watching two men kiss, I’d still have to choose “not being able to kiss in public” as the greater suffering I’d like to see lessened.

      Edit to add: by the way, one of the Muslim men pushed a female counter-protester when she called him a ‘faggot’. I’m pretty sure the atheists had already won the PR war. It’s kind of like going into a PR battle with the WBC.

      • brianmacker

        Actually, I get the ick factor sometimes and it’s not because I was socialize to think it was wrong.   I used to get the ick factor seeing men kiss women when I was a kid, all the while being socialized to be taught it was right.   

        If it was because I thought homosexual kissing was wrong but I don’t think it is wrong then why does it sometimes ick me out.    For example, it doesn’t ick me out if two girls kiss no matter what their orientation.   Nor does it ick me out if two attractive homosexual men kiss.   However if and ugly older homosexual  kisses a younger homosexual male that icks me out.  Also a heterosexual male kissing a homosexual male (in comedies where he is pretending to be homosexual) icks me out.  Whereas two french dudes kissing as a greeting doesn’t bother me.

        Of course, I also get the ick factor if an old couple kisses sometimes, especially if I think tongue is involved.    :)

        It’s more complex than “socialized to believe it was wrong”.   It’s probably a whole lot of factors, from personality, to religion, to genetics, etc. 

      • Ndonnan

        I really dont think anybody has been socialised to see men kissing passionatly in public as wrong,it just is.You rearly see teenagers passionatly kissing in public.Imagine if two eighty yos were toungeing each other in frount of you, it would kinda make your skin crawl,not that theres anything wrong with that. Also why is it unlawful to have sex in a public place even if no one sees you , it dosent hurt any one either.No this is a stunt only done to offend,there are better ways to make a point

        • Onamission5

          Men kissing in public is not wrong. 

    • brianmacker

      Huh?   Like the public perception of atheists is in danger of getting any worse.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Don’t tempt fate. It will find a way to somehow get worse.

        • Ndonnan

          Thats my point, there are better ways than offending people,like reason and debate and positive expiriance

          • amycas

             The whole point of the kiss-in is that a simple display of affection, which we see all the time from heterosexuals, shouldn’t be considered offensive. Sometimes people need to be offended, especially when they are offended by something as innocuous as a kiss.

  • Gabriel

    I’m straight and don’t enjoy the idea of kissing another man but I would make out with a line of guys as a counter protest to the hate mongers, homophobes, republicans, conservatives, etc.

    • http://mikeybear.wordpress.com/ Michael Barnett

      At first I suggested to Gregory that we go up on the steps and kiss in front of the protesters but he said he didn’t want to.  So I asked my straight friend Pete, the guy who ended up taking our photo, if he would do it with me.  Unsurprisingly he also, but perhaps a little reluctantly, declined.  Then a moment later Gregory reconsidered the offer and said he’d do it.  With the benefit of hindsight I can imagine a bunch of straight guys wanting to pash another guy on those steps in front of the protesters given this amazing outcome.

      • Gabriel

        I think you are right. All we need is a little help getting there.

  • bismarket

    OK FULL disclosure here guys, before i realised i was Atheist, i felt uncomfortable seeing 2 men kiss. I am of course embarrassed to admit it & even after “coming out” Atheist i still felt it a little, but the more i’ve seen it the more i’ve become comfortable with it, to the extent that i only notice it as much as i do when Heterosexual couples do it. Long story short, keep it up, when it becomes as commonplace as a man & woman kissing even some homophobes may come to accept it. Of course the religious fundamentalists will always have a problem with it for a whole other bunch of reasons (or lack of it;-P).

    • Michael

      There are a lot of things that make me feel uncomfortable. Doesn’t make them worth banning or wrong, just not to my tastes. Problems come when people consider something to be wrong because it’s not to their tastes. Kinda like when Bill Clinton banned broccoli from the white house. Same thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

        That was George H.W. Bush.

      • Jim Henline

        It is his home, he can ban broccoli if he wants. He did not try to ban broccoli from the country. Just his home. And it was W not Clinton that did that.

        • Michael

          Fair enough. Point is that just because something makes you feel icky says nothing about the morality of you or it. It’s just a feeling.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      I don’t think atheism has anything to do with being comfortable or not about seeing two men in a liplock. While it generally doesn’t bother me, I wouldn’t say I was 100% comfortable about seeing it and I’ve been an atheist for some time now. Anyway, my comfort has zero bearing on someone’s fundamental human rights, regardless of their orientation. More power to them and to us all!

      • bismarket

        I agree with you somewhat, what i was trying to say (poorly) was that when i started to socialise with other Atheists i was introduced to a wider set of people than i might otherwise have experienced & i made friends with some gay guys & always felt pretty comfortable around them while realising that they knew & respected my own sexual orientation.  Before that most of my friends were the type who feared “The Gay” & would make “Backs to the wall” type jokes whenever one was around. To be honest although i was influenced by them somewhat, i always felt more uncomfortable around those idiots than i ever felt around anyone who’s gay but probably never would have had the opportunity to find out why.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/leftwingliberal_tees The Godless Monster

    To all the naysayers…
     I hear your point about it being provocative vs thought provoking. But let’s be honest here. How introspective and thoughtful are fundies going to be? Do you really think they are going to be won over by anything even remotely reembling logic or compassion? Not likely. May as well just give ‘em the big middle finger and tell ‘em to get stuffed. Beside, it’s not like these kiss-in participants are publicly dropping trou’ and bumping uglies. Those who might be put off by something like this aren’t really worth having on our side anyway. I believe in gauging your audience, but complete accomodationism is taking it a bit too far.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/leftwingliberal_tees The Godless Monster

       correction:
      “reembling” should be “resembling”

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I hope those medieval nutjobs had to go through an extra long purification ritual after they pooped their robes!

  • Onamission5

    Wow, I had no idea that so many people who say they support gay rights and equality would find a simple kiss so threatening and divisive.

    I think it’s rather awesome, myself.

    • bismarket

       Sometimes even knowing your being stupid isn’t quite enough to defeat years of cultural & social pressure. Sometimes i still get that “What if i’m wrong & burn in Hell” thing, but then i stop, have a think & realise what’s happening & remind myself not to be so dumb!

  • Justin Miyundees

    Surely homophobes, racists, sexists – all forms of misanthropy and just plain old nuts fall into the category “atheist”.  After all, “atheist” only implies a non-belief in something completely unbelievable so it doesn’t take monumental mental capability.  

    However – it usually proceeds someone opening their mind to challenge the social mores and with open minds all bad ideas are eventually considered and dispelled in time.  

    That’s why if you find an “-ist” in the atheist camp, he/she is very probably evolving towards jettisoning that illegitimate concept as well.  I have “atheist” friends who believe in homeopathy (one told me I needed a Reiki treatment – he’s since stopped that nonsense) and a few anti-vaccine advocates.  It’s a process and few people are at exactly the same point in their journey from denial to acceptance.

  • Tom

    Many theists who are members of those religions that happen to have hell as a doctrine, tend to claim “We’re just trying to warn you about hell; we want to save you from it because we care about you,” as if they didn’t actually *want* us to go there.

    The impression I get from a mob chanting “burn in hell,” however, is exactly the opposite.  They like the idea all too well; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t say it like that.

    This claimed compassion, this alleged desire to save us from cruel punishment, seems every bit as conditional, as the so-called love of the god who’s supposed to have instituted the punishment in the first place.

    Real compassion is unconditional.

    • Ndonnan

      Tom you are confusing christianity with moslems.You are right though they are quite happy to see you “burn in hell”and would kill you in a lot of countrys.Thats why christians do talk to others,it would be un compassionate and unloving not to

      • Tom

        Are you trying to say I’d never find mobs of Christians chanting at homosexuals about hell?  That Christians would never kill homosexuals?  That Christian nations have never persecuted or criminalised homosexuality?

        Am I confusing christianity with islam?  I deliberately specified neither, and you’ll see why when you consider the following:

        Both religions arguably have the same god, and certainly share prophets.  Both have a doctrine of hell.  Both have, at best, a neurotic and simultaneously obsessive yet dismissive attitude to women.  Both tend to be pretty hysterical and repressive about sexuality in general.  Both regard and treat homosexuals as practically subhuman.

        Both, I am quite sure, have moderate, compassionate adherents who genuinely feel very bad about notions like nice people who happen to be gay or infidel being tortured for eternity, but who nevertheless have fully bought into the assertion that this is how things should and must be.

        Both lack a shred of verifiable evidence.  Both hold belief in the absence of evidence to be a virtue.  Both ignore counterevidence.

        Both hold absolutely no appeal for me.

  • pagansister

    How much of the “kiss-in” did the Pope actually see?  He probably was oblivious to the whole thing…guessing of course, but how much can he see in the pope-mobile anyhow, as he is being paraded about? 

  • brianmacker

    I love it!  

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Make Love, Not War, yeah?


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