3 min

The kiss

Showing gay smootching could - gasp! - lead us to the dark side

I eagerly awaited the Jan 15 papers, The Day After The Wedding. The kiss that seals the troth, on the cover of every newspaper in the city.

How stupidly naive.

Not one of this city’s English dailies ran a photograph of the lip-locked marrying men on their covers.

I scrunched my eyes, thinking the squint would reveal some previously unseen aspect – like the golden maple leaves that pop up when you swirl a new 10-dollar bill at just the right angle.

Finally, when I got to The Globe And Mail, I saw Anne and Elaine Vautour smooching on the front page.

It seems the boys still get a thrill when the girls are kissin’.

The National Post had the men looking at each other. The Toronto Sun had no picture at all on its cover. The Toronto Star, allegedly the most liberal and progressive of Toronto’s papers, featured hugging.

Hugging! Doesn’t that just scream wedding.

Then I thought no one managed photos of the kissing men. The craziness of it all, dozens of writers, photogs and video folk elbowing ribs while fighting for the perfect shot.

But two papers had kissy-faced guys inside (the National Post and the Toronto Sun).

Sure looks like the folks who pick what goes on the front pages allowed “taste” and their own clenching tummies to decide which reality they’d display. Guys kissing is still too icky.

Chinese-Canadian gay men and lesbians have fought regular battles against the conservatism of their community media. But the most radical front page gay marriage photograph ran not in the anglo press, but on the cover of the Toronto edition of the Chinese-language daily, Sing Tao.

Editor Robert Leung says his photos were purchased from the Toronto Star and the Canadian Press.

Any of the other papers could have bought that same picture from the Canadian Press. That they didn’t speaks volumes about how far we still have to go.

Admittedly, the pro-gay marriage coverage has been awesome. Every columnist in the city has pronounced – most in favour (though some goofily – the Post’s Donna LaFramboise says homos should get married to protect monogamy). The editorials have been almost uniformly bouncy. It’s dull.

Even the Star’s cantankerous Rosie Dimanno, originally encouraging homos to reject marriage, wrote a sheepish follow-up post-holy union.

But this wedding was bookended with two gay murders.

Back on Oct 12, 2000, Deborah (Chris) Point was in a Calgary courtroom charged with the killing of her female lover. Point was found guilty (she’d cut up the body and stored it in two boxes in a friend’s garage).

She was sentenced just before the homo wedded bliss.

That story was dealt with quite differently. Point killed her “roommate,” in the current crop of updates.

In this, it looks like journalists were protecting us from association with someone nasty.

There’s an odd connection here to the coverage of the death of Toronto fine arts professor David Buller, in the sense that it seemed incredibly hard for the media to come out and call David Buller gay.

If we’ve come so far, why the games played in the news stories about the stabbing of a 50-year-old gay artist in his studio? And this just days after the endless platitudes about recognizing our relationships?

CFTO-TV News reported that Buller was “unmarried and had no children.” As in, he was a great big heterosexual.

The Star the next day called him “known” to the gay community. What the fuck is that? It echoes the language used by cops when someone is “known to police,” as in, no actual convictions but a really nasty character. (Buller was in fact beloved by the people I’ve spoken to.)

The Sun wrote that “sources believe it was his unwavering commitment to his homo-erotic paintings that may have cost him his life.” (Apparently police suspect that Buller was killed by a cheapskate art dealer.)

What a long-winded stupid way of saying gay. It is not an abomination to call someone gay.

But that, it would seem, is the problem. His paintings showed leather and denim. What the straight brain is still programmed to see as the “bad side” of gayness.

Perhaps that’s why the mainstream went gaga over the idea the good homosexuals and their lovely weddings. And perhaps that’s why The Kiss was so hard to find. The media can’t really talk about, can’t really portray, our real lives.

Eleanor Brown is Managing Editor for Xtra.