Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nationwide Kiss In comes to Charlotte

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 3:52 PM

click to enlarge kisses-300x242.jpg

No matter how you feel about public displays of affection, this weekend, kissing in the park is for a good cause.

On August 15th, the Nationwide Kiss In comes to Freedom Park in the QC. The kissing gets started at 1 p.m. and runs until 3 p.m. All couples are invited to come out and show their support.

The Nationwide Kiss In is a response to three arrests across the nation of same sex couples kissing.

In December, two women in San Antonio, Texas, were arrested for “making out.” Then, in El Paso, Texas, on June 29, at a Chico’s Tacos restaurant two men were handcuffed and subsequently threatened with arrest by police after one kissed the other on the cheek. And most recently, in a well-publicized case, two men were detained by security guards of the Mormon Church, then arrested by police on July 10, yes, that’s right, for kissing.

David Badash, one of the national organizers of the event, spoke with Creative Loafing about the Kiss In:

Creative Loafing: What do you hope the kiss in will show law enforcement?

Badash: The Great Nationwide Kiss-In is a celebration and affirmation of ALL couples' right to publicly acknowledge their loved-ones, with a kiss. While these events are not directed at any one group or organization, it is true that in some communities, local law enforcement, and private security agents, have harassed and/or detained or even arrested same-sex couples for the simple act of sharing a kiss.

Have you gotten support from people outside of the LGBT community?

Badash: The Great Nationwide Kiss-In is not an LGBTQ-only event. Not only have we received tremendous support from people across all communities, but we have straight couples organizing events in their hometowns.

Have right-winged "religious" groups said if they plan to protest the kiss in?

Badash: I am not aware of any groups planning protests against any Great Nationwide Kiss-In events. Our events are specifically designed to be peaceful, non-partisan, non-denominational, and non-confrontational.

When you heard about the same sex couples getting arrested for kissing, what was you immediate thought?

Badash: After the first event I learned about, the same-sex couple in El Paso, who were threatened with arrest by local law enforcement, which, by the way, as I understand, THEY had called in response to the Chico's Tacos restaurant guards trying to expel them, I was saddened. After the incident a few weeks later, in Salt Lake City, I confess I was angered. After doing more research, and learning that these were not isolated incidents, I felt compelled to act. That's when I wrote, "It’s Time For A Nationwide Kiss-In!" which kicked-off The Great Nationwide Kiss-In. I'd like to point out that, it seems to me, each time the LGBTQ community is discriminated against, each time we lose a battle for our rights, we come back stronger and stronger. Prop 8, which never should have existed, has mobilized millions of Americans - gay and straight - to work toward equality for all Americans. That's one of the beautiful things about Americans - we stand together for what we know is right.

Seeing the number of cities with Kiss Ins planned, how does that make you feel?

Badash: Honestly, when I called for a nationwide kiss-in, I hoped that a few people would feel motivated, and maybe there would be Kiss-Ins in a few large cities. I never dreamed that The Great Nationwide Kiss-In would become a 50+ city event, taking place in 31 states and two countries. I never dreamed we'd have high school students organizing these events. Or straight couples. Or so many thousands of people investing so much time and energy to make The Great Nationwide Kiss-In such a success. I am forever grateful to them, and especially to two people, my co-founders, Wilow Witte, of Join The Impact, and David Mailloux, who writes at DYM-SUM.com.

I noticed that you reached out to people through Facebook, do you think this is how the movement will go on--with social networking?

Badash: Several people have called this a "2.0" movement, referring to grassroots organizations' use of social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, which we definitely have. As a writer and strong user of social media, I do believe that technology is making it easier for people to connect and to educate. But even without these tools, I believe people of like minds would come together anyway. Working together to right a wrong is the American way. We're simply using whatever tools we can find to help people understand that a kiss is just a kiss. No one should ever be arrested for kissing.

I wonder how Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are going to handle this peaceful protest? Here's hoping that a little sweet lip will open people's eyes to love in all shapes and forms.

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