Robert Hampton

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17th April 2011

A kiss is just a kiss
Posted by at 6.02pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

I’m out of date – whenever I hear the initials “PDA” I instantly think of a Palm Pilot, but apparently it also stands for Public Display of Affection. That subject has been in the news this week, because two men were kicked out of a Soho pub on Wednesday night after another customer complained about their lip-locking.

It’s probably stating the obvious to point out that, if you find same-sex affection offensive, Soho is probably not the best place to go for an evening out.

James Bull and Jonathan Williams, the pair at the centre of the storm, claim that they have been discriminated against. The drinker who complained told BBC Five Live they were “over the top”. Whatever the facts, the important consideration is whether the same standards apply to both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Would a man and a woman be asked to leave? Would anyone have complained in the first place? There are lots of questions which need answering.

The pub’s management haven’t helped their case by not issuing any comment whatsoever. When Guardian reporter Adam Gabbatt contacted the pub, he was told, “stop calling this number please, or we’ll have you done for harassment.”

Some may say that they should have gone to a gay pub to do their canoodling. But it’s 2011 and we should be well beyond the times when gay people had to hide themselves away for fear of upsetting people.

The story also serves as another illustration of the power of social media. One half of the couple took to Twitter to complain about his treatment. He was retweeted around the world and a Facebook group had been set up even before the story was picked up by the media – first by gay web site Pink News, then the Guardian, who not only put it on the front page, but launched a live blog. The blog is slightly tongue-in-cheek, which is how the problem started in the first place.

Two days later and, through the power of the Internet, a mass protest had been organised in the form of a “kiss-in”. It was attended by such luminaries as Peter Tatchell and both the BBC and Sky News gave it coverage.

James and Jonathan have apparently agreed to go on a second date, which will hopefully be less eventful than the first. More power to them, I say. I’m not a big participant in public displays myself (partly due to the lack of anyone to do it with). However, if two people sitting at the next table to me want to kiss – sure, go ahead! I’m quite liberal on matters of affection and sex. Anything short of Bonobo-style penis fencing is fine by me.