“Get a room!”
I myself have been prone to thinking this on occasion as I stand in a busy park or a crowded concert and spot two people getting intimate and interactive in plain view.
Although I’ve never shouted it out loud, I have been supportive of the shouting of others. It does bug me to see other people make out in public. They are always straight, and oblivious to the privilege this grants them to carry on relatively undisturbed.
Still, I will confess that I never entirely turn away. I find myself monitoring the progress of their lovemaking, the intensity and degree of nudity involved. It usually comes to some kind of a head eventually. One or the other will shift abruptly, adjust the necessary clothing, trot off to the bathroom or the food vendor. One or the other is left sitting there, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his or her sudden independence. He or she will fiddle with whatever is in reach and stare off into space for a minute before surveying the scene to see if anybody clued into what was happening.
I don’t like to think of myself as voyeuristic. It’s a strange mix of intrigue and repulsion when I watch other people make out. I wonder about their separate situations. Why here? Why now? Oh my God, is he fucking her right there on the bench? Seems like the only time I don’t notice or care is when I’m doing it, too.
I am also guilty of putting on a show sometimes, struck by an immediate surge of passion and heat in a public place. I am sure I’ve been hated for it. I’m sure cheers have ensued in the past after I’ve left a room. But I’m also sure my public displays of affection have aroused more people than I would care to discover.
Sometimes it’s innocent and funny. To look up from her shoulder in time to catch some 16-year-old with his mouth hanging open and his basketball rolling away across the court. To catch some quiet dyke at a corner table, pretending to read a book, one eye on us and a satisfied smirk on her face. To be around on those beautiful days when two little gay boys pass by and one of them says, “Would you suck her already?”
Once I watched a toddler in a red jumpsuit lead his father by the hand, up the grassy hill to the place in where I was lying over her. He pointed his tiny finger at us and made a sound like a question.
“Elles sont les amants,” his father said simply. “Sont tranquilles, hien?” “Oui.”
The toddler ambled off, satisfied that there was nothing more to see. The breeze blew across my back and I smiled into her hair, wanting to cry at the beauty of the moment.
Sometimes it’s not innocent at all. Straight boys with a penchant for girl-on-girl action are everywhere. Trolling by in their cars or those lazy motor scooters that sound a lot like chainsaws. Hanging around in drunken circles on Saturday nights. Smoking in packs that can feel like gangs. In the moment it doesn’t matter who can see me. I am focussed on the pleasure of her mouth on my skin, the translation of her tongue against my teeth to the space between my legs. I sure as hell forget about decency. I forget about danger.
I am possessive of the air around me, and I exercise my right to fill it in whichever way I choose. Not all the choices I make are smart ones. The fact that I don’t see women making out with each other in public spaces (outside of strictly queer spaces) makes me think that I am in a definite minority in our community. Is it brave or stupid? Is it both?
It definitely isn’t always polite. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I am utterly amazed by the power of my own sexual being, or the power of hers over me. I wake up and think, Did I do that? Was I really that Get A Room couple last night?
Brave or stupid would imply that I was behaving consciously, but it usually feels anything but conscious. Her and me, that’s all. Her and my inability to resist her. My inability to wait until we are alone again. Is it weakness?
I would rather see two people swallow each other in a bout of unchecked sexuality than see two people fighting, having a loud, ignorant conversation or trying to remember all the words to “My Heart Will Go On.” I would rather see two people making out on the bleachers than emerging flustered and half-dressed from a public bathroom. Public bathrooms are dirty. Public affection doesn’t have to be.
There is something affirming about kissing a girl where people can see you, something sweet about kissing in the open air. Love behind closed doors can feel suspicious, especially for those of us who are encouraged to feel that is the only place in which we have the right to love.
* Julia Gonsalves is a regular contributor to Xtra.
“Get a room!”