Recently, the media and (massive) LGBT community in Brighton has had a bit of a hissy fit over an incident involving a lesbian couple. In short, the couple were asked to leave Sainsbury's Supermarket after another customer complained to a security guard that their kissing was making her uncomfortable. Once the security guard (a female security guard - if that matters?) had asked the couple to tone it down, they decided to take a stand against this perceived homophobia and carried on, so were consequently asked to leave. Cue outrage and picketing from the local community. And with Brighton being the gay capital of Britain, there was quite the turn out in attendance.
The question here is... Was this a homophobic action? I mean if I were the security guard and some old, meddling woman came and screeched incessantly in my ear, then I would probably be prone to taking action too, if not just to shut her up. Which is exactly what she did. Now clearly this would have been a sensitive issue... The fact that the complaint was about two women kissing in public. And in Brighton of all places! Was the security guard stupid? Surely she knew the sort of backlash she'd be inciting when she asked the couple to stop smooching in the aisles. Or did she?
Public displays of affection are something that inspire much debate. The older generation wouldn't dream of it, and their comfort levels are tested when any couple, gay or not, decide to show affection in public. Whereas my generation aren't so bothered... Love and let love, etc. So where was the security guard coming from? Was she trying to cause trouble (unlikely) or just respect the comfort levels of the population of the store at the time?
In my opinion, her indifference towards the gender and sexuality of the couple in question only serves to reinforce the fact that this was NOT a homophobic act. This woman must have been a Brighton resident. She's probably used to seeing gay guys and gals mincing around the supermarket all day. Damn, she may well have a double use for that uniform herself, eh? So her presumed "insensitivity" to the couples indignation at being asked to stop snogging could surely have simply been down to the fact that, frankly, it didn't matter to her if they were two women, or a man and a woman, or some crazy old lady twittering in her ear. She simply saw two people kissing in public and, as it was making another consumer uncomfortable, quietly asked them to stop.
The media of course have taken the reaction of the masses to creative extremes. We all love a good outcry, and Brighton wasn't about to disappoint. There's been rallies held, signs painted (my absolute favourite, "Live Well For Lez" - A play on Sainsbury's Live Well For Less slogan) and a well attended "Kiss In" where couples (of all orientations) have flooded the car park of the supermarket to stand around making out until someone publicly apologises. But who?
If anyone should be apologising here, it should be the media who have sensationalised this non-event. Two people were kissing in public and it made another person uncomfortable. Now, if two straight people had been tapped on the shoulder in Tesco and asked to detach themselves from each other then it would barely make for decent dinner conversation. The fact that the gay community are band-waggoning this mere moment in time because it involved a gay couple only serves to further distance our community from the "traditionally orientated". To put it simply - If a straight couple were tonguing each other in front of me on the bus, I would probably ask them to stop too. Same with an LGBT couple. Essentially I'm a prude across the board.
So where do we stand? Do we as the gay community continue to draw attention to the divide between us and the straight community by kicking off every time something like this happens? Or is it time to just shrug off the homophobic opinions of the minority and accept that, in public, necking each other is unnecessary? In my opinion, affection is best left (and more fun) behind closed doors.
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