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December 31st, 2007

So Simple, And Yet So Radical…A Kiss…

From Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin…  Yes…this is how we ought to ring in the New Year

In commemoration of the Black Cat raid of 1966, celebrate this New Year’s Eve with a radical act. Kiss him "on the mouth for three to five seconds."

You should immediately go read his entire post about a page of gay history I hadn’t known about… 

It all began exactly forty years ago this New Year’s Eve, on Sunset Blvd., in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, in a small bar called the Black Cat. There were some sixty or seventy patrons gathered during those final moments of 1966, counting down the last few seconds to midnight. Couples gathered and stood next to each other, and as the countdown approached zero, they leaned into one other, and, amid the shouts of “Happy New Year!” and the opening strands of Auld Lang Syne, they did something all couples do all around the world.

They kissed.

And immediately at least six plainclothes officers who had infiltrated the gay bar began viciously beating and arresting the kissing offenders. As the melee widened, several people tried to escape to the nearby New Faces bar. Undercover officers followed and raided that bar as well. One of the New Faces workers was beaten so badly by police that they cracked a rib, fractured his skull and ruptured his spleen.

Six Black Cat kissers were tried and convicted of “lewd or dissolute conduct” in a public place, conduct that consisted of male couples hugging and kissing. According to one police report, one couple had “kissed on the mouth for three to five seconds.” Apparently, three to five seconds are what constituted “lewd or dissolute conduct” among the LAPD.

If I’ve heard bigots say once that they don’t care what we do "in our bedrooms" just don’t "flaunt it" in front of them, I’ve heard it a thousand times.  And what is this "it" they’re so afraid of seeing?  It isn’t that we’ll suddenly start having sex on the sidewalk in front of them.  They’d care a lot less about us doing that even, then doing the one thing they simply don’t want to see, don’t want to know: that the objects of their hate are human after all.  That we don’t simply rut, that homosexuality isn’t a lower form of lust, but that we are whole people, who not only desire, but love, and are loved. 

If there is anything the bigots hate seeing us do more then holding the hand of the one we love, it’s kissing them affectionately, simply, lovingly.  They’d hate us a lot less if all they ever saw in us was desire, because that would validate their ignorant barstool conceits that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  You want to really get them pissed off, make them see red, make the veins in their pasty foreheads start throbbing, let them see the slightest hint, the smallest sign, that you actually love your intimate other.  Because that makes you fully human and that’s the last thing they want to know.  What was the first thing the bigots started babbling about after the supreme court overturned the sodomy laws?  Not that suddenly a lot of homosexuals would start having sex, but that acknowledging that we had a right to sexual intimacy, might lead to giving us the right to marriage too.  Marriage was the First thing they started yapping about. 

That says it all.  That really nailed down what this fight is really about, what it was always about right from the beginning.  It isn’t about sex.  It has nothing to do with sex.  It has everything to do with our human spirit.  Homosexuals cannot have love, we must be denied it at every turn, every door to it must be slammed shut in our faces, it must be beaten out of us if necessary, because to allow us love, is to acknowledge that we are human beings, with human souls.  And so long as we must play the roll of scapegoats for the moral failings of heterosexuals, that cannot be.

Burroway concludes with this, and I couldn’t agree more… 

Forty years after the Black Cat raid, men still cannot be seen kissing each other, unless ratings are tanking during the final season or one of them dies.

And yet, what are two lovers supposed to do?

And when two lovers woo
They still say, “I love you.”
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.

Go read the whole thing.  And when the New Year rings in, if you’re lucky enough to have found your other half, or even just a happy partner for the moment, take them into your arms and kiss them…

Kiss him for all of those who were not allowed to kiss. Kiss him for those who were beaten and arrested for kissing, and for those who fought back to defend that kiss. Kiss him for those heroes who declared an end to the shame of kissing. Kiss him because now you can; because today your greatest freedom is in that kiss. Kiss him on the mouth. And for good measure, kiss him for much, much longer than three to five seconds. Kiss him hard and long, with a kiss of forty years and still counting.

And wish him a very happy New Year.

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