If we’ve all been taught one thing about relationships and affection, it’s that although it might be fine to snuggle your favourite person behind closed doors, doing it in front of others is as rude as blowing your nose at the dinner table. And yet they’re everywhere – these happy, affectionate couples – snogging and touching and holding hands and occasionally forgetting they’re in public and referring to the other one as ‘babycakes.’ Public displays of affection are enough to make you either vomit or masturbate.
I’m firmly in the latter camp. Public affection is a beautiful, lovely, warm thing both to do and to see. So why are some people so cruel about it?
More public displays of affection please
Sometimes when I like boys, I snog them. The sort of snog that might cause you to mutter ‘get a room’ under your breath. An obnoxious, thrilling snog accompanied by a hand slipped subtly up the back of a t-shirt to press tight against the small of his back. It’s hot.
What’s more, I love seeing other people do it. Couples snogging in parks, in pubs, outside the entrance to tube stations – sucking each other’s faces like they’re ice cream and ignoring the looks of disgust from passing strangers. I like seeing people in love, in lust, or just being affectionate towards each other.
Affection’s nice. There should be more of it. In a world where you can see people calling their children ‘shits’ and barging into strangers in their rush to get to work, watching a couple in love is a visual treat. A respite from the other mean things we see humans do to each other.
I mention this now because it’s nearly summer. Glorious, beautiful summer when – unless you’re a miserable workaholic goth such as myself – you’re probably out and about, bumping into plenty of people engaging in the sorts of public displays of affection that I love to see.
The merits of not getting a room
So why is it, when I see a pair of lovebirds kissing each other on the train, they’re surrounded by commuters rolling their eyes and muttering ‘get a room’? People who don’t know them see fit to disapprove of their behaviour and in some situations to openly question it. In the past I’ve heard people either challenging a couple directly (“Hey, mate – you should get a room”) or making a deliberately loud comment so that the couple in question overhears.
And even without the overt comments, there seems to be a general acceptance of the fact that some types of affection are just too much for our delicate stomachs to handle. Snogging in public is ‘gross’ or ‘inappropriate’, and should be relegated to the same cultural sin bin as people who eat chips on the train, or wear leaky headphones while listening to obnoxious music.
“I was on the train next to a kissing couple and I could hear everything. Euggh.”
“There was a couple in the park snogging and he was lying on top of her. Too much.”
“You and so-and-so are all over each other. No one wants to see that. Get a room.”
If I hear you say something like this, I don’t smile approvingly and inwardly thank you for making the horror stop: I feel sad. For the couple, who have been publicly shamed for doing something that’s as natural as eating or sleeping. And sad for the world, because there are now a few more people in it who’ve learned that being affectionate in public is unacceptable.
We see people swearing, we see them fighting, we see them screaming at their children in the supermarket. We see offensive t-shirts and patronising adverts and tits on page three of the newspaper. And yet to see two people kissing is apparently beyond the pale.
Well, I disagree. I like it when you kiss in public. I like it when you hold hands. I like it when you hug each other for a bit too long, or fall asleep on each other on the bus on the way home. I don’t want you to get a room, and I certainly don’t want strangers to tell you that something as simple and fun as kissing should only be done behind closed doors in the dark, away from anyone who might be offended.
There are a million and one things that would be genuinely unacceptable to do in public. I’m not going to start wanking on the bus any time soon, or testing out new swear words in the playground of my local primary school, because there will be people there who could understandably be traumatised. But kissing? I can’t see how two strangers kissing is going to have a negative impact on anyone nearby.
We’re used to people being angry in public, so why can’t we cope with them being in love?