This kiss wasn't just a tender moment. It was a wake-up call to the world.

Michael Sam and partner Vito Cammisano share a kiss to celebrate Sam being drafted.

Earlier this month, the online world went into a meltdown over a photo of two men in love.

When Michael Sam was picked in the NFL draft by St Louis Rams on May 10, he publicly kissed his partner to celebrate — and we originally viewed the moment as a simple expression of joy and affection.

But others didn’t share that view. Former NFL player Derrick Ward posted on Twitter that the kiss was “disgusting”, sparking a massive, transnational social media debate over the “appropriateness” or otherwise of the kiss.

That debate signaled to us that the kiss was not just a tender moment but a wake-up call to the world.

Because if two people expressing their love for one another can still provoke international, vitriolic trolling, we really, really need to normalise the sort of image you’re seeing above. And not just normalise, but celebrate. Because who doesn’t like a lovely kiss?

Yup, it’s time to introduce more LGBT kisses into the mainstream media.

And here’s why:

Because it’s a straight person’s world. And that’s messed up.

If you’re straight, you probably haven’t thought much about the fact that being heterosexual is regarded as a default setting in our society — but that’s exactly how it feels for many LGBT people, as 20-year-old Ruby explains.

“We don’t want to be seen as an anomaly, as something that’s not normal,” she says.

This photo of Marissa Gaeta, left, kissing her girlfriend of two years, Citlalic Snell, after Gaeta’s ship returned from 80 days at sea, made headlines.

She says she’s received death threats after posting on her blog about her relationship with her partner Bonnie, 20.

“I’ve gotten messages saying, ‘Kill yourself so your parents don’t have to deal with you,'” she says.

“It’s not safe for us, and it’s not comfortable for us, and we don’t have the luxuries straight people have.”

Lola, 21, agrees that “straight people need to realise that heteronormative isn’t normal for everybody”.

“If you say you have a girlfriend, the default setting is that people think it’s just a close female friend… It’s just a daily reminder that it’s not our world, it’s a straight person’s world,” she says.

“The reason LGBT relationships are useful in the media is that not only does it give gay people something to relate to… it means that straight people know that being gay is something that happens in everyday life.”

Because many of the same-sex kisses we DO see on our screens undermine real LGTB relationships.

“When celebrities kiss as a publicity stunt, it’s in a titillation-for-men kind of way,” says Lola.

Both women agree that we need to see more LGBT kisses on our screens — but not of the Madonna-and-Britney, or Miley-and-Katy, variety.

“When celebrities kiss as a publicity stunt, it’s in a titillation-for-men kind of way,” says Lola.

“Women aren’t making out with women because it’s something they want to do with each other.”

Ruby points to pop hits by heterosexual women like Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl as well as lesbian porn made for men as “part of the problem that fetishises our relationship”.

“We’re in a relationship and we don’t want to be diminished, or fetishised,” she says.

“And I think there’s a huge misperception that lesbians are more accepted than straight men. But I think that’s wrong, because there’s this misconception that we exist purely for male pleasure and that just diminishes our relationships.”

“Like (in public) Bonnie and I will kiss, and we’ll look up and there’ll be a guy staring,” she says.


Lola cuts in: “Or trying to take pictures, or asking us if we can do it again for them.”

Because LGBT people need to see relationships they can connect with.

Callie and Erica kiss on Grey’s Anatomy.

Ruby also says LGBT people “need to be represented in mainstream media because we can’t relate to a lot of heterosexual relationships on TV”.

“Before I completely had accepted (my sexuality) within myself, I remember seeing Alex and Marissa on The OC and Naomi and Emily on Skins, and it just helped me,” she says.

Lola says she similarly watches “a lot of LGBT TV shows like Pretty Little Liars, Grey’s Anatomy, The Fosters and The L-Word because they’re something I can connect to.”

“Do you know how boring straight relationships can get after a while (if you’re a lesbian)? We love Derek and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy but we can’t connect in the same way.”

She says LGBT-friendly shows also proved a comfort when she was preparing to come out to her family.

“When I was struggling with my sexuality and Santana Lopez from Glee came out as a lesbian, girls at school didn’t have anything bad to say about the character and I was like, ‘This is awesome. This means if I come out as gay, people aren’t going to hate me,'” she recalls.

Lola also explains the need for more LGBT relationship narratives in mainstream media by reference to the Maya Angelou quote: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story.”

“LGBT people do bear untold stories,” she says. “And that’s why visibility (in the media) is important.”

Because it’s time for straight people to stop being shocked.

We need to see more LGBT kisses on TV because of “the fact that people are so disgusted about that sort of thing,” says Ruby.

(At back) Ruby and her girlfriend Bonnie share a kiss, while (at front) Lola kisses her girlfriend Penny.

“When I’m walking down the street holding Bonnie’s hand, there’s always some sort of anxiety that someone’s going to say something,” she says.

Lola agrees that even in her liberal-minded inner-Melbourne suburb, she’s experienced “people staring at me… people frowning at me.”

“But why should gay people have to censor themselves for other people’s comfort when we have to grow up seeing only straight relationships?” she asks.

Of the outrage over Michael Sam’s kiss, Ruby says the public response perpetuated “that idea of ‘Yeah, you can be gay, but don’t flaunt it’, which isn’t actually acceptance at all”.

For young people struggling with their sexuality, she laments, “Seeing the public reaction would then reinforce the idea that it’s a very scary thing to come out.”

“When I was at my darkest period (and before I came out), it would be very damaging and dangerous to see that sort of reaction,” Lola says. She adds that the public reaction highlighted a lot of misconceptions that society still holds about what a gay person must ‘look like’.

“A lot of shock came not from the fact that he was a gay male, but (the fact) that people have a very set stereotypes of athletes, so the minute someone steps out of that stereotype, people flipped out,” Lola says.

“That he could be very masculine and also gay was incongruous to some people’s minds.”

Here are the sorts of kisses we’d love to see more of. Those featured are either of the Mamamia Team or of our friends and family, or gay characters in the media. If you’d like to share a photo too, please email [email protected] or upload to social media with the hashtag #moregaykissing: