Love, Inc

The intersections of emotion and capitalism.

Gay Chicken

Straight guys kissing to prove manhood.

Cocky
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/genome/guide/chicken/
Anyone who has a radio knows that kissing between straight women is increasingly acceptable. Katy Perry's 2008 hit "I kissed a girl and I liked it" tells us that it's okay to kiss gay as long as you're really straight. As Perry croons:

I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chapstick

I kissed a girl just to try it, I hope my boyfriend doesn't mind

It felt so wrong, it felt so right, don't mean I'm in love tonight

But that song was about girl-on-girl action, a staple of straight porn and college frat parties assumed to be for the pleasure of men (as well as the gals kissing). In other words, straight women kissing straight women is something that can be "sold" as sexy and enticing for a variety of viewers. What are we to make of the increasing popularity of straight guys kissing?  

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Apparently such guy-on-guy action is increasingly popular with young men in a game known as "gay chicken." According to Eric Anderson, a sociologist at the University of Bath, straight men are no longer adverse to kissing each other. In fact, they play a game of kissing with the first one to pull away the "loser." Gay chicken. According to the Guardian article about Anderson's research:

The results of his survey showed 89% of the polled men saying they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship. And almost 40% added that they had engaged in "sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now just for 'a laugh'."

According to the Urban Dictionary, gay chicken is:

A game played with straight people to see who has more balls,.. One 'player' moves in for a sensual kiss until one of the 'players' backs off.  

So it's kinda like football, I guess? A way of proving (presumably straight) masculinity by acting in homoerotic ways.

But can it be "sold" like Katy Perry and straight lesboerotic porn to a larger audience? Well, there's at least one website selling it (warning: don't go unless you want to see frat boys engaged in sexual acts with one another). And my guess is there could be a song on the horizon:

I kissed a boy and I like it.  

Don't care if my girlfriend minds,

Because it showed I'm not a sissy tonight.

Interestingly enough, this guy-on-guy action is not that different than what commercialized sex looked like a century ago. Early cinematic porn contains images of men as receptive and insertive partners in the same scenes, with both men and women. Not because the porn was gay, but because porn for male audiences showed a variety of sexual acts. The difference was that at the birth of Modernity, the homosexual (and the heterosexual) were not quite yet stable subjects. In other words, who you did the dirty with was less important than how you performed your social roles as husband or businessman.  

But that was then. This is now. Two men locking lips reads as gay. Really gay.  In a way that two women reads as not gay as long as the women are sufficiently "feminine" (long hair, make up, long nails, thin, young bodies). So whether this trend will spread beyond young men getting a "laugh" to young men being less afraid to touch and be intimate is unclear. What is clear, is that increasingly kissing someone of the same sex is a normal part of being young. And if that can be capitalized on--in porn or in pop music--it will be.

Laurie Essig, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology and women and gender studies at Middlebury College.

more...

Subscribe to Love, Inc

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?