Hey, get a room

Every time I lean in to give my girlfriend a
kiss on the cheek in public, the same thought runs
through my head, “How many people will attack
me like a mob of gorillas for this?” Okay, well,
maybe not a mob of gorillas, but I do worry about
offending those uncomfortable with public displays
of affection, especially from a lesbian couple.
For the every day Joe Shmo walking down the
street that sees me steal a kiss, I could care less. But
many people struggle every day with the annoying
questions of whether their coworkers, friends,
relatives or even their partner is okay with holding
hands in public, kissing and just showing general
“I am mostly against [public displays of
affection]. That’s because I just don’t like seeing it.
Hand holding is fi ne but when people kiss or are
really touchy-feely in front of others, I get really
distracted and annoyed. In most places, it’s just
inappropriate,” UAA student Sarah Olsen said.
“Hand holding is kosher, that’s about it.”
For some people, it’s quite the opposite. They
do not mind showing affections in public at all,
whether it is a peck on the cheek or a slow kiss on
the lips. Then there are those out there who do not
have problems seeing it or participating in it.
UAA student Andrew William had his own
theories behind those reluctant with PDA.
“Maybe it’s an insecurity of some form, not like
they can’t get it. Maybe it’s insecurity about their
partner wanting somebody else. Maybe it’s a bond
that they can’t be a part of,” William said.
The general public seems to be in agreement
about what is appropriate and what is not in public.
In a recent poll conducted by The Northern Light,
98 percent of students feel it is okay for couples to
hold hands and 96 percent feel it is okay for couples
to kiss.
This is where the crowd stops feeling generous,
however, and draws the line. Around 87 percent
of students felt it was inappropriate for couples to
display heavy petting, and 80 percent of students
felt it was inappropriate for couples to make out in
These are the typical views in America, but
students who have traveled abroad have noticed
something different about couples in Europe.
“Last semester, I spent abroad in France so I’m
oversaturated with PDA. It doesn’t bother me at
all,” Chad Meyer said.
He also stated about American reluctance that
some people think their love is very formal and
that it should be something to be respected, and if
it’s just everywhere then it doesn’t have meaning
Kyra Sherwood, a student just returning from
Europe, said in an e-mail “I spent time in England,
Scotland, France and Poland, and I kept seeing
couples draped across each other or in each others’
laps or whatever on buses and trains. Even in really
mundane places, like train stations or the line for
Passport Control in nearly every airport I traveled
through, there were almost always two or three
couples making out while they waited.”
So does this mean Americans are all just sticks
in the mud? Are we all clinging to our strict Puritan
beginnings as a nation? In a surprisingly close
margin, 40 percent of students said there should
be some sort of rules against public displays of
affection, yet 81 percent of students said they did
not really have problems seeing public displays of
affection. Furthermore, 85 percent of students said
they apply the same, unchanged standards of what
is acceptable and what is not for GLTB couples as
I guess it means that not so many really mind
if you want to lean over and give your signifi cant
other a kiss. Maybe the public displays of affection
argument is the often over-talked issue of whiny
students; it seems that people are more or less in
agreement with what is okay and what is not.