Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Kiss-In at Battery Park

The sun was blazing yesterday, making Battery Park more or less oven-like. Thankfully most of us gathering near Castle Clinton for the Kiss-In stayed relatively cool, thanks to the small tree we co-opted for the day's gay agenda. Natural perspirers like me were still glistening, though, as was organizer David Badash, who stood out in sun with the bullhorn to coordinate and comment.

Watching the videos will give you a good idea of what happened. But they may not capture the peaceful, reflective, and comradely air of celebration that carried the day. David did a great job of keeping the core of the event in focus: that we were there for celebration and affirmation. Kissing is not only to be tolerated as harmless; it's a joyously human act that defines and strengthens our relationships.

And, not for nothin', watchin' chicks kiss is hot as hell. Come on, throw me a bone here. My honey couldn't make it to the event, so I had no one to kiss. You can't blame me for taking what enjoyment I could from it.

After the kissing, David said a few more words and then passed around the bullhorn. What struck me about the impromptu speeches was that two of them formed accidental bookends: they illustrated how far we've come, and how far we still have to go. The third video shows a man telling a simple, touching, and heartening story about how far we've come. He's been out for thirty years, and during that time he's seen the progress that's allowed folks like him to stand there in public and say "I'm gay", and share a kiss. The second video shows a young woman telling about how, just the previous night, her and her friends were verbally and physically assaulted in Union Station, just for being gay.

I stood under that little tree and swapped stories with the gentleman in the third video, and before he left we kissed each other on the cheek. It's been about twenty-four hours now, and as near as I can tell, I still ain't gay. Not even a little bit. And I seem to have suffered no ill effects from being in close proximity to a big gay kiss.

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