The First Guy-on-Guy Kiss to Hit the Big Screen
Movie experts often credit Sunday Bloody Sunday, a 1971 film about a love triangle among two guys and a girl, as the first mainstream feature film to depict two gay men kissing. That's true, but it wasn't the first time two guys kissed on screen. Apparently, straight men had been doing it for decades.
In 1927, two soldiers kissed tenderly in the silent movie Wings, which won Best Picture at the first Academy Awards. When the film was released, no one raised an eyebrow about the scene, partially because kissing in the trenches was remarkably common during World War I. According to British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Santanu Das, letters and accounts of the war are peppered with stories of soldiers kissing, embracing, and giving each other pet names like "my Palestine Wife." Das believes the war succeeded in breaking down the traditional limits on emotional and physical intimacy between men, allowing soldiers to form relationships that went beyond what was permissible at home. While it's surprising to us today, that Wings scene didn't even cause a stir in 1920s America.
The Kiss You Can Share with a Quaker
The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, is a small Christian sect best known for rejecting all forms of violence, embracing progressive politics, and dedicating themselves to simple, restrained living. They've promoted a more harmonious world by founding causes such as Amnesty International, not to mention lending their name to oatmeal.
So we were surprised to learn that when teenage Quakers get together, their favorite activity is a free-for-all kissing game that often ends in bruising and rug burn. Alternately known as Ratchet Screwdriver, Bloody Winkum, or Wink, the game dates back to the early 1900s. To play, participants divide themselves into girl/boy pairs with one boy left over to be the "Winker." The pairs sit on the floor, with each boy hugging a girl from behind. When the Winker winks at a girl, she tries to scramble across the room to kiss him, while her male partner does his best to hold her back. Hilarity (and release of pent-up sexual frustration) ensues.
But not everyone finds this game so hilarious. In 2002, the Children & Young People's Committee of the Quakers in Britain issued a statement discouraging the game at official functions. And while that may not seem surprising, the reasoning is. The committee frowns upon the game because younger children and adults don't get to play, thus making it ageist. Due to their egalitarian values, Quakers seldom segregate by age at get-togethers, and the committee didn't want the very young or the very old to feel left out.
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