Public Display of Affection (PDA) By Darrel Moore



Is it still taboo for two guys to suck face in public?


We’ve never been more accepted in this country than we are right now. This is fact. In most places, seeing gay couple’s holding-hands or showing affection in the street is nothing new – it’s passé even.

Like reality TV stars – they are so common that no one cares anymore. It’s so of the norm that people don’t even bother to stare with gaping mouths. So, why then did I feel the need to pull away when my deliciously cute date attempted a kiss in public?

It started as a traditional cinema date. We’d just finished watching the latest cinematic blockbuster and had enjoyed some over-the-clothes groping in the safety of the darkened pictures. But as soon as the lights were up, my hands snapped firmly back to my sides. Then it happened. He leant in for the goodbye kiss that I wanted as much as he did, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I shrank away, leaving him hanging there with his mouth puckered, ready and waiting – alas, only to be disappointed. There came the brief awkward moment afterwards, but I pretended to never have even noticed his attempt, which he was happy to believe also, rather than feel the sting of rejection.

I went home and thought a lot about why I’d done that. I wanted to kiss him, but having people watching me put me off. Why? I wondered whether I was scared to show my gayness in public and for a while I felt like I was a bad gay man, letting down the team and being a complete wuss. But then it occurred to me that even if I when I’m surrounded by other gayers, I still feel uncomfortable having full facial suckage when spectators are ogling from all angles. It was then that I realised the truth. I’m simply don’t like PDAs.

For those who don’t know what a PDA is, I shall explain. It stands for Public Displays of Affection. While some people, gay or straight, are comfortable with eating each others faces in public, or holding hands in the park, or groping on the bus; I am not one of those people. I’ve discovered that I prefer to keep my PDAs private.

If I’m expected to perform for a crowd then my face flushes and I turn into a shy little girl. It has nothing to do with being afraid. I don’t particularly enjoy being forced to watch other people salivating over each other, so I don’t expect people to want to see me do it either. I find it awkward and unnecessary. If you’re horny, go home or get a room.

I then began to wonder about how hard I’d been on myself before I realised I had PDA-phobia. I’d felt so guilty that I might have been too scared to show my gay-old feelings in public. I felt like I was pushing the whole country back about twenty years, in terms of tolerance and equality. Why had I felt like I was letting the side down?

Surely, in this day and age, where gay people have more rights and see more equality than ever, we don’t need to be larger-than-life-out-and-about-in-your-face gays? Haven’t we gotten to the point where there’s no immediate need to have excessive PDA action to act as our big ‘we’re still here’ statement anymore? People know now, right? Surely all the efforts of the homo community before us have earned us the choice of how out we’re seen to be? Not from fear of being ostracised, but from personal preference.

Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway – having the same choices as everyone else; gay, straight, bi, try, and not feeling the need to PDA to merely prove something? If we have gotten to this point, surely that’s a new milestone. We can now choose to keep PDAs indoors if that’s what we want, knowing that we’re not being bad gay men for failing to do our bit for the flag, but that we now have the freedom to choose not to.

Do we as gay men still need to force ourselves out into the public eye to let people know we’re still here? If this is the case then maybe it can be argued that because of my aversion to PDAs, I’m not allowing myself to be seen as my homo self. We all know that the fight for equality isn’t always in protests or court rooms or in the decisions of MPs. It’s about how we live our everyday lives and whether we can do this comfortably and without hindrance or judgment from others.

So if like me you’re averse to PDAs, what other things can we do to aid in the fight for equality. I’ve thought about this for quite some time and while my mind has skimmed over things such as: wearing lots of pink, saying ‘faboosh’ as many times as I can, creating a fitted suit from a rainbow flag and working into all my conversations the phrase ‘hello sailor’. But I don’t think these actions will be too effective.

But I’m now certain of one thing. I shouldn’t feel guilty because I’m not a fan of showing affection in public, as long as I’m doing it for that reason and not because I’m scared of the reactions of people around me. To be honest, even if I was scared, I’d end up snogging my date’s face off in public anyway just to master my fear. I’ve discovered that’s just the kind of gay I am.