Remember That Time I Kissed a Girl on the Subway and Someone Took a Picture? LOL!

I got this Facebook message a couple of days ago, which made me nervous because whenever I have something new in my inbox I get irrationally nervous.

The message directed me to this photo of me on People of Public Transit. My immediate reaction was:

Two Lesbos shamelessly making out on the train? LOLOLOL.

Some stranger snapped a picture of me at four in the morning taking a girl home on the subway last summer. I felt that flattered voyeuristic feeling that you get when you see a picture of yourself that you didn’t know existed.

And then I read the caption and saw the tag and I started to have lots of feelings. Ensuing thoughts:

a) “Holy shit, my Dad is going to come across this somehow.”

b) “I should not have been kissing a girl on the subway, how drunk WAS I, what was I thinking?”

I’m still half-closeted back in my hometown for irritating but understandable reasons. The fact that I’m doing gay writing is problematic enough, but it’s also surmountable because I’m able to remain semi-anonymous by only using my first name or going by “M.J.”

There’s a bizarrely significant number of photographs of me kissing cute girls floating about the internets, which is fine because I’m super vain and secretly love it. However, those photographs were all taken in queer and “safe” spaces.

If this happened to a fellow lesbian prior to this week, I probably would’ve said, “Then don’t kiss on the subway, dumbass, what do you expect?” Sometimes a pervyoldman/super-brazen teenage boy will likely laugh at you or make a comment about turning you straight if a girl holds your hand on the subway. But PDA is annoying, straight or gay. And we all know that it’s sort of tricky to be a homo on public transit — occasionally people smirk at your alternative lifestyle haircut.  We’ve learned to keep a lid on it.

Part of me is feeling guilty for being stupid enough to be so, as they put it in the caption, “public” about kissing this girl. But another part of me is like, “WTF” right back. Straight people get to do this all the time! Boyfriends can hump their girlfriends right up against the subway doors that you’re not supposed to lean on. Cute hetero couples drunkenly make out on the subway at four in the morning in plain view and it’s never notable enough to take a camera phone picture of and then post on a blog with a “WTF” tag. It’s awkward but it’s just life and people shrug or sometimes smile or sometimes roll their eyes over it.

I can’t change the world and make it not weird for gay people to practice PDA when they’re drunk and wanting to flirt in — god forbid — PUBLIC. And I sincerely can’t figure out is if it’s worth it to abide by the expectation that we don’t “flaunt it,” or if it’s better for us in the long-run to brave the stares, snickers, and camera phones and just live until people just get used to seeing gay sexuality right in front of their very eyes. I really don’t know.

I do remember when two guys in Atlanta were photographed on the train cuddling after a long night out, and everyone was up in arms, and I wanted to write them a thank-you note.


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44 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, being in the public domain means being subjected to possible photography, no matter what you’re up to. Is this right? Debatable. Does someone’s right to documentation (?) end where your right to privacy begins? Debatable. This is not art. There is a distinction to be made here between someone taking an artsy photograph of strangers making out in order to capture the emotion of the moment, and this kind of cheap documentation presumably taken exclusively for publication on the internet.

    Should you have been making out with that chick on the train? Hell yes, if you felt like it. There’s nothing grossly belligerent or offensive about the act you and she were engaged in. With the exception of the photographer, it doesn’t look like anyone gave a flying shit, which gives me an iota of hope.

    How the website handled (classified and captioned the image) is what gets me. That’s just -straight up- disrespectful(no pun intended but welcomed nonetheless). I cannot comment on whether or not this picture would have been taken if it was a heterosexual couple engaged in the act; there’s really no way to tell. Saying so would be, in my opinion, a presumption.

    However, assuming it was the website who classified and captioned the picture (as opposed to the submitter) that’s where you get into an area I have a problem with. Putting this in WTF is suggesting that this is worth a double-take, and granted, maybe because of its rarity it is… but that can easily be (mis)interpreted to mean that this is unacceptable or abnormal behavior, which it is not, given the standards of PDA you described also takes place on the train system.

    Is this an example of homophobia in disguise? Are people afraid of homosexual displays of affection in public? My answer: some people are. Some people aren’t. And some jerks just take pictures of people in order to get a cheap laugh on some random site on the internet. It’s shitty, but People Of Walmart is hilarious.

    • I mean, I so agree. I’m not going to call this incident homophobia. But it’s indicative of something abstract and unpleasant afoot. I totally get why they took the picture (I like your use of the word “rarity”), but I can’t help but viscerally react to the fact that they did. I’m completely in on the joke, even though I wish I wasn’t. I’m not really interested in the political agenda or lack thereof of the website. I’m not even mad at the dude who took the picture. I just think this is all a good example of how it’s much more difficult to get drunk and mack on someone when the mood strikes and not have consequences for it if you’re gay. I’m not sure what the solution is and that also adds to the unease…I don’t usually participate in the comment sections of my pieces but seeing what everyone else thinks is really interesting.

      • Back in my junior year of college right after I had met my girlfriend and had just come out to my friends, we went to one of those big lesbian friday nights in west hollywood and my (other lesbian) friend took a pic of us kissing. Since this was wayyyy back in ’06 and I had yet to grasp the public domain aspect of facebook, I posted it in the album from the night, along with all the other pics. Lo and behold, a few weeks later I get a fb message from my concerned straight guy friend being like “Yo I just saw you and your gf on ucladirt.com…you might want to look at this”

        ucladirt was some stupid site started by homophobic, douchey frat assholes at my school which included a lot of pictures of guys from rival frats passed out with penises drawn on their faces and captions like “ha what a fag.” i had the bizarre experience of being in a sorority my freshman year (way before i came out) and so was inadvertently facebook friends with a lot of frat guys, one of whom anonymously submitted this pic of me and my gf.

        the caption on our photo: “Bisexual? Yeah right, don’t worry they still like dick”

        I was too angry and shocked to react at first, I took down the pic from my fb album immediately and tried to send an angry email to the founder of ucladirt but of course the moron chose to remain anonymous. it was already on the site, it already had all kinds of comments that basically agreed with the caption, and there was nothing i could do. the worst part is that i was pretty out on fb and the “friend” of mine who had sent it in most likely knew that she WAS my girlfriend and no, we were NOT into DICK, but decided to have fun at our expense. it’s a sad world we live in. at least by now in 2010 the comments on your photo appear to all be supportive of you and anti- the pervy slime-o who posted it to begin with.

        oh and the website ucladirt doesn’t exist anymore, thankfully. the domain expired and no one renewed it, maybe the guy graduated and realized what a giant ass he was, we’ll never know.

        • I was at UCLA at the same time and was bizarrely in a sorority before I came out! Wish I had known more people like you–I was utterly miserable. Ugh those were (not) the days… and that is really shitty what happened to you. Wish I could say “I totally know who started that” but sadly it could be any one of the hundreds of d-bags living on or around Gayley. Ironic street name for them, no?

          • Ahhh SO ironic!! I wish I had known more people like you too! I went to exactly 1 meeting of queerxgirl (this verysmallclub started for lesbians by one of my friends) and I’m pretty sure it got disbanded after the ucla young republicans needed the meeting room (sigh).

            a year after i got out of the house i met a girl through mutual friends who was currently in my ex sorority and was actually OUT..in fact i think she was the first/only girl ever out on the entire row (at least that we knew of in recent past). she said the girls in the house were pretty okay with it, so that was comforting news, but she was definitely a rare case. i still live 5 minutes from hilgard and sometimes when i drive down that street i wonder how many girls living in those houses are totally closeted, confused, and miserable like we were. all i know is after i deactivated, studied abroad, came back refreshed and made a whole new group of friends outside the greek system, things improved substantially. what happened to you w the whole sorority thing? I feel like this is starting to sound like the basis for a ucla ex sorority girl version of the It Gets Better campaign, haha!

          • Wow yes! I deactivated and went to Paris and it rocked my world. Lots of other things happened obviously but that experience pretty much saved me. I wish I could help all those sad girls struggling because I know their pain and I am sure there are a ton of them. I feel like it has been a thousand years since I went through all that when it was really just 7. I also don’t live far away and have to spend a lot of time in Westwood, so at the same time I am constantly reminded of that strange time period.

            A photo incident I remember was during the whole “party pics” thing, when at each event with a frat there was a pro photographer who took pics all night and then they were posted online for purchase. Well two girls were snapped making out (whether for personal benefit or frat boys benefit I’m not sure). The president of my sorority berated us all at a meeting, saying it was “unbecoming to ” and that future photos like these would result in some sort of punishment. Yet plenty of hetero make-out pics had happened without so much as a raised eyebrow. I still remember to this day that word: “unbecoming.” That whole thing was probably the biggest nail in the coffin for me.

            But you’re right, it totally is a “It Gets Better!” Did you know there is even a lesbian sorority now? Not sure I would still be into it (the whole thing was a little much) but that it even exists is pretty rad.

          • Oh yeah the party pics…I remember those guys!! They’d always manage to get a pic of me mid Scorpion Bowl (or whatever those lethal punch vodka things were called) at Fu’s Palace on Pico…surely you’ve been there. i feel like every raid of all time ever was at that place.

            I can’t believe that “unbecoming” incident!! Gahh…if that had happened in my house I would’ve died, I mean I definitely remember making out with girls/seeing my friends make out with girls…luckily the frat dudes never managed to catch it on camera. I think our president had enough on her hands though…my pledge class was nuts.

            I actually DID hear about the lesbian sorority! But yeah, I agree I was over the whole “house full of 100 girls” thing in general…I’m trying to imagine 100 lesbians in 1 place (oh wait, I just got a vision of Here lounge, haha).

            My friend Selby (she’s the one who was out in my ex house) and I always joke about how if we had been in the house at the same time we would’ve revolutionized that shit! I even met my current gf through 2 of my friends who were in a different house. I mean, given the time/space continuum and the relative tininess of the greek system, we probs have friends in common. I don’t want to get too detail-specific on the interwebs (learned my lesson from ucladirt) but email me or find me on fb or something: calypsokatie [at] yahoo [dot] com and we should all hang…ex ucla sorority lesbians unite!

    • She hails from Italy and of course had an awesome Euro haircut. However, as my shock over the existence of this picture fades, I’m now coping with new shock over the state of my hair at that time…what the hell.

      • i kinda wish every time i got drunk and made out with a chick on the L train, someone would be around to take a picture, because i would high five myself.
        somewhere on a “nightlife” site there are photos of me and a fair lady who has a boyfriend who would assuredly not approve of the things happening in that picture. we did not know the picture was being taken and we weren’t totally happy about it, but again, i mean, it’s a hot picture, so. maybe he doesn’t know how to use the internet!
        that said, people who take pictures of strangers on the train are creepy no matter what the context.

  2. I want to write you a thank you note, too. But all I can come up with is “That is really hot.” Not much of a thank you I don’t think. Don’t feel bad for that. Don’t ever feel bad for that happening.

    As gross as that site is, the photo of you so does not deserve a WTF categorization. Other things under WTF: people with no pants/pants pulled down, people doing drugs, a dog in a baby stroller, a guy dressed head to toe as Mario. Not that any of these things are related in any way, but a photo of two girls kissing is way out of place.

  3. #1 I think that site is bogus for putting that in the WTF category. #2 At the rodeo disco this past year there was a photo of me making out with a girl however it was in the background of another photo. Luckily, before the photo was posted I nicely asked the person who took it to crop me out.

    • That’s absolutely not the same thing, at all. You were caugh in the picture, but the intention was not to photograph you and mostly it was not in a WTF category. And you mentioning it now, if i can be honest and upfront here for a second, is giving me second-hand embarrassment as a fellow queer person, since you are showing that you didn’t have the guts to own that picture.

      • Well let’s see, they were both photographed without knowing about it and both were caught making out with a girl. It’s different, hence the usage of the word however and luckily, cause sam got to choose not to have it posted. So Sam’s comment is relevant

        Also I don’t think not wanting your picture taken determines the amount of guts you have

  4. Honestlyyyy…*shrug*

    No, it should not have been under a “wtf” caption. Perhaps the site mods can actually alter that.

    But, if you’re making out in public, gay OR straight, you sorta have to expect that people might gawk or take pictures. True, people are more interested in lesbians kissing, and I’m going to include myself in that category – you barely ever get to see it! Straight sexuality is all around us (movies, couples, whatever), so why stare? It’s just not interesting anymore. I don’t think this is indicative of some great societal “ill” (besides there not being enough lesbians in the movies haha). It’s perfectly normal that people like to look at things that are out of the norm. For instance, I’m not gonna stare at a pigeon on the side of the street (well, I do sometimes ^^;). But I would definitely look at a beautiful blue jay or cardinal woodpecker or hummingbird some other cool shit you don’t see that often.

    I will share my own moment in which I voyeuristically snapped a picture of a STRAIGHT couple. They were in the airport and they were sitting on opposite sides of this bench with their legs stretched out towards each other. They were both wearing chucks and they were cuddling at the ankles. Sooo cute. And it made me miss my girlfriend so much! So I clandestinely took a photo with my cell phone (I know, so creepy) and sent it to her with the caption “Awww”. Alright, did I feel a little creepy afterward? Well, yes. Does that mean normal people don’t have urges to take pictures of other normal people all the time? No. Of course we do.

    So meh. And all this talk about objectification? What about the photos in every NSFW Sunday blog post? Or plenty of photos on this site or other queer sites? Why does it make it better that a lesbian is gawking at a hot lesbian couple versus a straight guy doing it?

  5. True, not specifically, but I more meant it in response to the first post that distinguished between “art” and “just to be posted on the internet for a laugh” (the latter is a form of objectification though its not specifically sexual in nature), and one of the comments on the site that called it “pervy”. Also some points made about privacy in the original post, the first post, and on the website.

    It seems that there’s an undercurrent that people feel this site in general is objectifying in some way, and I think there is a lot of racist/stupidl/whatever bullshit on that site too but I’m not sure I get a weird uncomfortable reaction to the taking of this picture. In fact I definitely don’t. It’s whatever to me.

    • I don’t think it’s the objectification people are objecting to (heh) but rather the mean-spirited nature of the site. At least, that’s *my* objection to most snark sites. (Although there are a couple I visit, I’ll admit.)

  6. So my guess is the ‘WTF’ categorisation is in relation to ‘WTF, they should get a room’ or ‘WTF, hot lesbians, making out in the middle of busy carriage, and not giving a fuck’.

    I think you’re over-analysing the ‘WTF’ issue … pretty much everything on that site, no matter what the category, is invasive or pervy.

    Just be careful about your ‘online image/identity management’.

  7. honestly i’d definitely be watching/gawking (sh*t is hot), but it takes a certain kind of gross dirt b a g to secretly take a picture of someone like that. it’s like… yucky AND cowardly

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