Re-Queer: Do You Kiss?

A quick dip into my favorite archives—personal ads—reminds me of one of the strange quirks of casual gay sex that I find absolutely intriguing: the oh-so-important question of whether one kisses.

As one soon finds out, the question makes the difference between a hook-up or not. Those who demand kisses within a 15 minute b/j seek some kind of confirmation, as though kissing confers what Hegel (routed via Fanon) terms recognition. The kiss would seem to punctuate an encounter that so often relies on breaking out of time and grammar.

Equally baffling are those who want “raw loads” but do not kiss. (Apparently my blog comes up if you search for “raw loads.” What on earth have I been writing?) We are in strange, though not uncharted territory. Let us recall that Freud likens analingus to hetero-intercourse/fellatio—it’s not quite clear in the English translation and I have no German.

Freud writes, “The use of the mouth as a sexual organ is regarded as a perversion if the lips (or tongue) of one person are brought into contact with the genitals of another, but not if the mucous membranes of the lips of both of them come together. This exception is the point of contact with what is normal” (Three Essays 17).

Note, of course, the wonderful use of the passive voice: regarded by whom?

We might turn Freud to queer purposes—this is redundant, of course—and ask whether those who insist on kissing in the beginning, middle, or end of some random encounter might be trying to maintain a “point of contact with what is normal.” The cheating husband, the traveling trucker, the hetero-boyfriend, all of whom use the queer’s orifices, might need a return to what is familiar, the kiss.

“Normal” may have little to do with gender, as I’ve presented it, and may instead have a more philosophical, even ethical, bearing. It has been many years since I read Levinas and I have since lost the nuances of his discussion regarding the face. I invoke him here as a half-remembered citation, less so an argument.

Might the kiss have as its task, then, the claim, “I am more than, I am also?” Yet, we know that the position of the supplement is akin to the thread that enables one to unravel a sweater. “I am more than, I am also” becomes “and so I cannot be,” at least if one follows one train of thinking.

“Kissing,” writes Adam Phillips, “may be our most furtive, our most reticent sexual act, the mouth’s elegy to itself” (100). Yet it maintains a cultural sanction—“you kiss so well”—whose value remains inestimable.

We might ask, taking raw loads as a guiding metaphor, whether kissing bestows or takes away life. Yes, the prince awakens the poisoned—and poisonous—princess. But aren’t evil witches always “plotting for kisses,” to borrow Phillips’s apt phrase?

To ask this is to tread in the realm of the absurd, where the 17 minute trick assumes a certain psychic structure: cause my little death and resurrect me by kissing. Those who do not kiss—and I confess to being one of them—may be said to toy with necrophilia, to extend the realm of “little death” and to reject the promise of the redemptive kiss.

Even this is a mischaracterization, for those who don’t kiss tricks often have others they kiss, including other tricks. The question might then be what makes some people kissable and not others? A question that is quite distinct from what makes some people fuckable. These are deep questions.

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I mentioned to a friend that my writing over the past few months had been distinctly un-queer. This writing might be taken as an attempt to stake an uncertain position in an impossible identity.

6 thoughts on “Re-Queer: Do You Kiss?

  1. And witches have other ways of taking away life, don’t forget; kisses often bestow it, or at least animate, in that they mark and enact love’s signature. Or at least like’s. Thus the lack of kissing by prostitutes, tricks, etc. Kissing also exposes, marks out your vulnerability–it is so utterly intimate, and has multiple valences. Does fucking? All of the clasical forms and registers of love–agape, eros, philia, can be conveyed by a kiss. Can you say the same about a raw gangbang, or a felch, or fellatio?

  2. Have you seen the movie Pretty Woman? Not worth viewing just for the anecdote unless it can be demonstrated that this phenomenon of not kissing increased in queer culture after the movie’s release. I have heard people loudly rebel against non-kissers saying, “You’re not Julia Roberts and I’m not paying you!”

    If only Richard Gere practiced the same abstinence. Probably too easy a joke. I’m sure someone else has already made it.

  3. Hi Nandi,

    “raw loads” refer to “tainted” sperm delivered without the benefit of a condom. I use the term “taint” to indicate ostensibly life-producing sperm and disease-producing germs.


    In my vaguely Hegelian mode, I would suggest that the kiss is much too benign (even with herpes) to have the same Hegelian risk of death as fucking. It does not approach the “little death.” There is something about its hyper-significance as benign that continues to intrigue me. And, of course, I haven’t mentioned its associations with civilization and, in that, imperialism, which is where it really gets me.


    I try to avoid the Roberts woman as much as possible. But, I do think the associations of tricking with paid sex work are valuable. To my mind, queer sex always treads on the wrong side of the law and respectability, despite what the courts say. For instance, simply consider how much we have to “pay” in many states simply to have benefits that approximate straight couples. We literally pay to be gay.

  4. If your use of “pay” is literal, it deserves to be “bereft” of “quotes.” (pet peeve and I should be shot)

    As much as us queers are known for being trailblazing trend setters of questionable trends — track lighting, toy dogs, Daisy Dukes worn north of the Mason-Dixon in cold weather, and the goatee that hides one’s second chin (but not the third) — I don’t know the chicken/egg precedence of queer not kissing to the movie Pretty Woman. However, I believe she says, “It’s too personal.” She doesn’t want an emotional attachment, just the money. I think this accurately reflects the prevalent, even if absurd, queer mentality.

    Confidential to K: I got a hug good night last night from Mr. Arduous Diction. Maybe he, too, is a non-kisser. More later.

  5. No, we will desist from shooting you. At least until you introduce us to dank and dark places.

    Pay is both literal and figurative. If I recall, some of the gyrations couples have to go through to prove they can be partners exact the most horrible tolls (prove you make love, kind of questions).

    I liked my daisy dukes! And I quite adore my goatee and fourth chin! As soon as I get rid of one, I’ll don the other. I just woke up. My faulty logic is even worse than usual.

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