Has anybody else noticed that the practice of air kissing on both cheeks is in decline?
Many people – well, many gay men anyway – are greeting each other with mutual lip kisses instead. At this rate of increasing intimacy, by the time 2008 rolls around, people will be offering oral sex as a greeting to old school chums they run into on the subway.
There’s something mildly thrilling about friendly lip-kissing (with the right friends). It’s a window of opportunity. Either party could pause and slip a little tongue, transforming, “Hi, how was your weekend?” into a more intimate proposition. Even if that doesn’t happen, a lip kiss poises a friendly gesture on the brink of something more.
It must be that this country is getting sexier. Somebody asked me last month if coverage of gay and lesbian issues by the mainstream media has improved over the last few years. I said it had. “Why?” he asked.
Why, indeed. Definitely, expressions of sex and sexuality in general are becoming less taboo in Canadian society.
Mainstream porn magazines of all persuasions have gone hardcore over the last three years? You probably didn’t – you were busy deleting all the unsolicited porn out of your e-mail account. But really, you can buy magazines at Heather Riesman’s World’s Biggest Bookstore featuring naked women urinating in front of naked men, and I haven’t heard a peep about it.
In the storefront of a sex shop on Queen St, voluptuous models in skimpy Wonder Woman lingerie wave at kids riding the streetcar and the kids wave back under the smiling eye of their parents. Cable and satellite TV stations broadcast all kinds of explicit sexual content and there have been only a handful of complaints to regulatory authorities, and mostly by inarticulate wingnuts.
With all this sexual expression going on, people are less uncomfortable talking and writing about gay and lesbian issues specifically. A rising sexual tide lifts boats of all orientations, and gay and lesbian people are benefiting from it. Gay and lesbian people have also been partly responsible.
A rising tide also causes anxiety. How high will it go? One of the quotes that caught my eye in this current issue of Xtra (see elsewhere on this site) was the one by Leif Harmsen talking about nudists who were given a hard time at Buddies In Bad Times’ Naked New Year party: “Everybody just assumed it was a clothing-optional event – why wouldn’t it be?”
I tried to think why it wouldn’t. There are no legal issues – an Ontario judge ruled last summer that nudity and alcohol can be mixed at a licensed establishment. And I can’t see Buddies patrons complaining – there was nudity on the stage and the bar regularly plays porn. Why wouldn’t there be nudity at a Naked New Year’s party?
Well, we’ve been so programmed to think that nudity produces some problem – legal, moral or social – that anyone’s comfort with it must somehow be unusual. That nudists merely “get away with it.” But maybe they’re the future of clubbing.
My second favourite quote in this issue (see next item) is UPS spokesperson John Wheeler talking about how the courier service censors material it thinks Canada Customs may consider obscene: “I know we don’t make these things up.”
Me, I’m not so sure that all these rules weren’t just made up. After spending a good part of this century and many previous ones being told that gay and lesbian people were deviant, then mentally ill, then tolerable only if we stayed in the closet, then tolerable only if we were discreet about sex, it’s obvious that all those old truths were made up. They’ve all been cast aside and the world marches merrily on, war and famine still making up its worst parts.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a little sexier. Obviously, Canada Customs is a misnomer.
Paul Gallant is Managing Editor for Xtra.