In response to recent events in three different U.S. cities, where gay or lesbian couples have been harassed, detained or arrested, for the simple act of kissing in a public place, two gay rights bloggers have joined forces with the national grassroots LGBT organization Join the Impact to create the Great Nationwide Kiss-In. Now, David Badash (of the New Civil Rights Movement), David Mailloux (of DYM SUM), and Willow Witte (Co-Founder and Director of Join the Impact) are seeking event coordinators throughout the United States to help organize these Kiss-In events.
“It is our goal to have as many cities or towns holding events as possible, to create the strongest statement we can against harassment of the LGBT community,” Mailloux said. “And it will be incredibly easy to put one of these events together. Most of the work involves publicity – networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, press releases to local media, and hanging flyers in and around the site of the event.”
“We’ll send written guidance and standard press releases to anyone interested in holding their own related event, to make this even easier for anyone who wishes to help,” Mailloux added.
The Great Nationwide Kiss-In will be held on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 2 p.m., Eastern Time (11 a.m., Pacific Time). Badash’s original vision for the event would have as many couples as were willing to participate – gay and straight – showing this simple, innocent form of affection for one another in popular public locations throughout the United States.
“Both gay and straight couples should be able to kiss whomever they like, wherever they like,” Badash said. “If you want to give your better half a kiss, or hold their hand while walking down the street, then you should go for it. Lord knows, this world could use a lot more love, and a lot more people displaying acts of love, affection, and kindness.”
Gay activists and bloggers throughout the country have said that the recent incidents involving gay and lesbian couples kissing in San Antonio, and El Paso, TX, as well as Salt Lake City, UT were entirely related to their sexual orientation.
“It’s truly shocking that – in 2009, with homosexuality decriminalized throughout the United States – we are still seeing law enforcement and other individuals harassing and detaining homosexual couples,” Mailloux said. “In two of the three incidents, the couples only kissed on the cheek. There’s nothing inappropriate about that. There’s nothing illegal about that. Kissing is a beautiful thing; it’s a timeless show of affection for our loved ones. People kiss on the cheek or on the lips every single day, in any number of public places – airports, subways, sidewalks, coffee shops. The LGBT community should be allowed that same right without consequences.”
Unlike other recent isolated kiss-in events in Salt Lake City and San Diego, the Great Nationwide Kiss-In is exactly that – it’s on a national level. While the other events have taken place on or near Mormon church property, Badash, Mailloux, and Witte all agree that the Great Nationwide Kiss-In should be as non-controversial as possible.
“These events are meant to be fun and emphasize the beauty of love and simple affection between two people,” Witte said. “People shouldn’t be made to live in fear of expressing their love! It was meant to be celebrated. We just want people to come, to enjoy the company of the LGBT community, then at 2 p.m., everyone will kiss. We want to make this statement about the beauty of such chaste affection, and the right for everyone to share that affection with whomever they choose in whatever environment that suits them.”
As of July 23, the coordinators have confirmed five events in Boston, MA; Irvine, CA; New York City; San Diego, CA; and San Francisco, CA. There are also organizers trying to get events started in Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Memphis, TN; Northampton, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; and San Antonio, TX. If you would like to coordinate a Kiss-In event in your city or town, can join organizers in one of the above cities, or if you have other questions about the Great Nationwide Kiss-In, please contact David Mailloux at GreatNationwideKissIn@gmail.com, or call him at (617) 213-0433.