A new study shows straight British dudes are okay with kissing each other on the lips. The study authors think this means homophobia is on the way out, but we're not so sure.
According to the Daily Mail, researchers surveyed straight, white men at two UK universities and one sixth form college (where 16-19-year-olds can go after their mandatory 11 years of school are over). Eighty-nine percent of these guys said they were comfortable giving a male friend a platonic kiss on the lips. One student said,
I am comfortable to kiss my friends in situations such as their birthday or when someone scored a goal or just if we are having a laugh. Physical contact with your friends helps to bring you closer. I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for more than a year and she doesn't think anything of it when I kiss my guy friends.
And, says lead study author Dr. Eric Anderson,
Heterosexual men kissing each other in friendship is an offshoot of what happens when homophobia is reduced. At these universities, overt homophobia has reduced to near extinction, permitting those men to engage in behaviour that was once taboo.
Anderson hopes to study kissing attitudes across race and class. Comparing across age groups also seems like a good idea — I'm not convinced that because a few young men at universities are comfortable with kissing each other, this extends across British society. Also, I'm not sure that heterosexual male kissing really means the death of homophobia. Anti-gay bias does constrain a lot of straight male behavior, and it's nice if some dudes are able to break out of restrictive gender roles and show physical affection for one another. But I also wonder how these young men would react to public displays of affection by actual gay guys. Is kissing men really okay for all guys, or only for those who have girlfriends and are totally not gay, bro?
I'd also like to see a similar study conducted in the US. Given that efforts to support and empower gay youth often seem to be met with fresh outpourings of homophobic hate, I don't think there are many places here where homophobia is reduced to anything near extinction. The real victory would be if anybody could freely kiss anybody else not because "I have a girlfriend and I'm totally straight," but because nobody cared whether they were gay or not — and at least in the US, we're woefully far away from that.