“I Kiss Them Because I Love Them”: The Emergence of Heterosexual Men Kissing in British Institutes of Education

Abstract

In this article, we combined data from 145 interviews and three ethnographic investigations of heterosexual male students in the U.K. from multiple educational settings. Our results indicate that 89% have, at some point, kissed another male on the lips which they reported as being non-sexual: a means of expressing platonic affection among heterosexual friends. Moreover, 37% also reported engaging in sustained same-sex kissing, something they construed as non-sexual and non-homosexual. Although the students in our study understood that this type of kissing remains somewhat culturally symbolized as a taboo sexual behavior, they nonetheless reconstructed it, making it compatible with heteromasculinity by recoding it as homosocial. We hypothesize that both these types of kissing behaviors are increasingly permissible due to rapidly decreasing levels of cultural homophobia. Furthermore, we argue that there has been a loosening of the restricted physical and emotional boundaries of traditional heteromasculinity in these educational settings, something which may also gradually assist in the erosion of prevailing heterosexual hegemony.

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Correspondence to Eric Anderson.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Interview Questions (Long Surveys)

  1. 1.

    How do you identify: straight, gay, bisexual or other?

  2. 2.

    Are you a member of any organized team sports?

  3. 3.

    Can you describe for me, quickly, what your general attitude is toward homosexuality?

  4. 4.

    I notice that straight men now kiss each other on nights out or in pubs. Have you ever kissed another friend, even just once this way?

  5. 5.

    Can you tell me about that kiss? How did it emerge? Who did you kiss? How long did it last?

  6. 6.

    I’ve also noticed that sometimes straight men pull one another, oftentimes at clubs, and oftentimes as a joke. Have you ever seen this?

  7. 7.

    Have you ever kissed a guy in this fashion?

  8. 8.

    How did it emerge? Who did you kiss? How long did it last?

  9. 9.

    Can you tell me what it is like kissing a guy, emotionally?

  10. 10.

    Do you derive any sexual or erotic pleasure from it?

  11. 11.

    Are there rules as to who you kiss?

  12. 12.

    Why do you think guys can do this these days?

  13. 13.

    What do you think your father might say if he knew you have kissed other guys this way?

    Your brother? Friends back home?

  14. 14.

    Do you see gay men also kissing this way? Do you have problems with gay men kissing in public? Would you kiss a gay friend in the same way you kiss a straight friend?

Appendix 2: Interview Questions (Short Surveys)

  1. 1.

    How do you identify: straight, gay, bisexual or other?

  2. 2.

    Are you a member of any organized team sports?

  3. 3.

    Can you describe for me, quickly, what your general attitude is toward homosexuality?

  4. 4.

    I notice that straight men now kiss each other on nights out or in pubs. Have you ever kissed another friend, even just once this way?

  5. 5.

    Can you tell me about the person you kissed. Why him?

  6. 6.

    I’ve also noticed that sometimes straight men pull one another, oftentimes at clubs, and oftentimes as a joke. Have you ever kissed a guy in this fashion?

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Anderson, E., Adams, A. & Rivers, I. “I Kiss Them Because I Love Them”: The Emergence of Heterosexual Men Kissing in British Institutes of Education. Arch Sex Behav 41, 421–430 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-010-9678-0

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Keywords

  • Heteromasculinity
  • Students
  • Kissing
  • Affection
  • Men