You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
Well, it’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
-Lyrics and music by Herman Hupfeld
A kiss is the most intimate act two humans can share. It can be a simple, reassuring gesture. Sometimes our lips briefly touch a loved one’s cheek as a symbol of a deep caring; other times, a kiss can go to another level, taking on lustful, hot, lingering and joyful rapture. There are people we’d give a blowjob to, or fuck, who we would never dream of kissing. Not that blowjobs and fucking can’t be loving; they can. But the meeting of the lips is “real” in a way other, more sexual expressions of love can never be. It’s the reason some sex-trade workers won’t kiss their dates. Anything but that. Too personal.
So, when I heard that the CTV teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation would feature a screen kiss between the young gay characters Marco and Dylan on the Mar 15 episode, I decided to check it out. I don’t normally tune in to Degrassi but I was a fan of the original 1980s show and had seen a couple of earlier airings of the new version, in particular one in which Marco started to tell his schoolmates he was gay. I was curious how they would handle the dating rite of passage, so important and potentially devastating to a hetero teen, doubly so for a homo kid.
The kiss itself was a loving, quick peck on the lips from Dylan to Marco to reassure him he wanted to see him again following a fairly disastrous date. Degrassi did an admirable job of showing these two characters as vulnerable, thoughtful and good kids trying to make their way through a crucial time in their lives.
There was the predictable reaction from certain letter writers to The Province newspaper even before the show ran. Several readers wrote letters expressing “disapproval, outrage and concern” that TV columnist Dana Gee would dare do a positive feature article on the eve of the broadcast urging people to watch.
Those lefty, fag-loving kooks at Vancouver’s notoriously alternative, libertarian rag (that’s sarcasm, folks) even had the unmitigated gall to include a photo of actors Adamo Ruggiero (Marco) and John Bregar (Dylan) engaged in the boy-to-boy liplock. It was news to me, but apparently Pacific Press Inc “promotes and supports this (gay) lifestyle,” wrote one outraged reader.
Good on them, I say: it’s about fucking time. Gay teens need all the good press they can get. People need to know gay feelings start to develop very early in life, that being a gay kid is okay, that there are a lot of Marcos and Dylans.
There should be more storylines focussing on gay youths in love-more kisses, more romance, more heartbreak, more lustful glances. More images of post-pubescent boys holding hands with and kissing other boys, more programs dealing with youthful homo love and lust in an honest, genuine way. Less Queer Eyes for the Straight Guy (a bent version of blackface, Amos ‘n Andy and minstrel show mentality if I’ve ever seen one) and more Degrassis.
See, the thing that outrages these poor, misguided “concerned citizens” the most is that not only do we want rights and freedoms, now we ungrateful slobs want the Truth to be told by mass culture as well.
The Truth that gay love is healthy, beautiful and every bit as spiritual, positive and nurturing as the hetero variety. That we’re not just all silly little faggots like Jack from Will & Grace, but that we’re real people who are not evil, not sick and not bad. We’re Marco and Dylan. We laugh, we cry, we give love and we need love. We feel connections to other gay boys as we grow up and need to express that.
Several Province letter writers-mostly women from the suburbs, I regret to note-made a point of ridiculing Gee’s assessment that the Degrassi episode was a welcome and gentle handling of “a true awakening of sexuality.” Because it’s two boys, the sexuality offends them and is less “true,” less valid and the love, less pure. Well, crusaders for the Right, love is love is love. And we could use a whole lot more it, honeys, not less.
I was not out in high school. It was a different time and I guess I couldn’t find the courage. I did tell my best friend and my parents but outside of that, mostly my gayness was a big secret. There were certainly a few Marcos in my past-sweet boys I would have loved to ask out on a date, kiss, hold hands with. Go to the movies. Hang out with. You know, quote unquote: normal kid stuff.
Creating a world where gay kids’ love and sexuality can blossom with the support of friends, parents and teachers should be priority number one on the so-called “gay agenda” the fundamentalists keeps telling us we have. The most heartening aspect of the recent Degrassi episode was how Marco’s straight friend, Spinner (who had shunned him in an earlier episode), helped him hook up with Dylan. Spinner approached Dylan and let it be known Marco would say yes if he asked him out. He also helped Marco pick out his clothes for the big date, but warned him not to “get all mushy now” when Marco gushed his thanks. It was cute. And touching.
Degrassi: The Next Generation continues the tradition of the earlier show by tackling the social issues kids face today in a realistic way. They’re exploring abortion, drug overdoses, drunken moms, sexual abuse, bulimia, and now, gay love. Here’s to Marco, the shy, effeminate immigrant’s son and his new love, Dylan, the hockey-playing, sensitive jock. Whatever happens to their TV romance now that their first, uneasy date is out of the way, they’ve already made some gay kids in North America feel a little less alone.
And that, to paraphrase North America’s favourite inside trader, is a good thing.
DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION.
Mondays at 8:30 pm.
You must remember this