What do you do when something that has been built up for so long falls flat on its face? When something that you thought would be magical and amazing just amounts to a big fat nothing? This was my experience with my first kiss. Technically, my first kiss was in a production of Into the Woods in high school when I played the baker’s wife and the director asked me to kiss the boy playing the prince, as was written. We kissed, and it was really strange because neither of us were into it and our teeth sort of bumped together. After kissing once he asked not to do it again because his girlfriend got angry. My first kiss off the stage was two years later and I had not gained any relevant experience since then. Freshman year at Lawrence coming out of a small school where I was disinterested in the guys there I was determined to just be in a relationship. So, the first person I was vaguely interested in I kissed one night while watching YouTube videos. Two months later, I was in my first real relationship —with a girl.
Your first kiss is portrayed as a magical moment in those cheesy movies that you watch as a tween. It’s the moment when the two lead characters “truly” see each other and their eyes meet and they lock lips and the movie resolves in a blissful conclusion, the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. The problem with these endings is that the real world looks a whole lot different. Or, in my case, you have an epiphany far too late that dating men is not for you. See, the common thread in my dating dilemma was that I had no interest in dating guys. I was so indoctrinated into the homophobia of our culture that I thought one day a man would come who would sweep me off my feet, and I just had to wait for him. So, my first kiss was with a boy in a vain attempt to kick start some sort of magical process of “straightness” that I hoped would happen soon after. Luckily, after failing miserably, my queerness was staring me straight in the face, which was the best turnaround of a bad outcome that has ever happened to me.
But, despite the happy ending, the first kiss myth still sometimes haunts me. It feels a bit like I had it stolen from me, despite the fact that I had consented and been willing both times. I wanted so badly to be a part of the culture around me that I sacrificed what was supposed to be a special first in the desperate attempt to fit in. I also know that I am definitely not the only one who didn’t have a magical first kiss. A friend of mine recently had a less than magical first kiss and told me about it. Her experience made me think about how much stock we put into this one moment, and how terrible that is to give to teens who are just trying to fit in. It can lead you to feel let down and sad if the whole affair falls flat. Even worse, a first kiss can be had in a pressure-filled situation or in an abusive relationship, and it’s not fair to the people who have suffered through either to show first kisses as spectacular moments when theirs was stolen from them. Or, that kid could be like me, forced to try and squeeze into a role they weren’t meant to play and wait for the one person who will “confirm their straightness.”
My third “first kiss” was the one I really cherish. Because it was the one when I felt the magic and the excitement. Even though that relationship ended I am still happy that I had that relationship because it put me on the road towards acceptance of myself. In the U.S., a first kiss is made out to be the perfect moment, but it ignores the fact that the development that it glorifies, of young love and lust, happens in so many other ways and with so many other people. You learn to love and to trust and about pleasure and pain with every person who you fall for. And at the end of the day that sloppy makeout in your parent’s basement or in a car is not the thing that should hold the most magic. You might not even like kissing or sex or you may like it just not with the gender that our society told you is “correct.” At the end of the day, a first kiss is forgettable. A notable memory, sure, but hopefully one of many happier and much more magical ones to come.