Lesbian kissing is more often than not viewed as specialist porn rather than a symbol of love and affection, but not so the footage captured on YouTube and newspapers of petty officers Marissa Gaeta and her partner Citlalic Snell. Gaeta and Snell were sharing the coveted homecoming “first kiss” on the pier, taking advantage of the repeal of the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. They had been at sea for 80 days and had no doubt missed each other. The fact that the crowd screamed and waved flags around the couple shows how far we have come since the days when the tabloids were expressing outrage at any sign of affection between lesbians on TV.
Which takes me to number 10 on my list of favorite lezzer snogs of all time.
10. Margaret and Beth on Brookside
British TV’s first lesbian kiss was between teenagers Margaret and Beth on Brookside in 1994. The tabloids asked, whether explicitly or otherwise, if either actor was actually a lezzer, and a number of viewers complained that the programme was screened pre-watershed. It marked a change in attitude, and made many of us squeal with delight at lesbian love and passion featuring in a soap opera, between happy, functional teenagers as opposed to bitter and butch types.
9. Zoë and Loui in Hollyoaks
Number nine goes to a scene from Hollyoaks, the soap aimed at teenagers, screened in 2008. Zoë and Loui end up drunken tongue-wrestling after becoming involved in a love triangle with a boy. The pair go on a night out at a few bars, and end up in bed together at their B&B. Their kiss is as sweet and passionate as it should be. I love the fact that pre-adolescent kids can have access to positive images of same-sex relationships.
8. Martina Navratilova and former girlfriend Judy Nelson
This was some time during the late 1980s in full view of the Wimbledon spectators and millions of TV viewers. I recall seeing Navratilova, one of my heroes, run into the spectator area to seek out Nelson after winning the tournament. Many tennis commentators were uncomfortable at the sight and would refer to Nelson as Navratilova’s “friend”.
7. Ellen DeGeneres and kd lang
DeGeneres was presenting lang with an award at gay charity event in early 1997. “I only just realised she was gay two weeks ago,” she quipped. What follows is a full-on, mouth-open snog. lang looks pleased. The audience was rapturous.
6. Kitty and Tina on Take the High Road
Six belongs to the snog that inspired a headline in the Daily Record of “Dyke the High Road”, when Sappho visited Take the High Road, a Scottish soap on our screens in the 1980s. “Lesbian romp steams up Glendarroch,” exclaimed one TV reviewer, reacting to the kiss between pig farmer’s daughter Kitty and student Tina. The really went for it, with a Scottish Television insider describing it as a “deep kiss”.
5. Vivian and Cay in Desert Hearts
Indie film Desert Hearts wins the fifth spot, as it was the lone lesbian romance on the big screen before the lesbian “chic” trend of the 1990’s. Set in Reno in the 1950s, prim Vivian meets the confidently lesbian Cay. Vivian tries to resist Cay’s charms, and ends up being kicked out by Cay’s jealous mother, Vivian checks into a cheap hotel and gets drunk, but Cay appears, banging down her door, and when Vivian tells her to go away she whimpers, “I can’t!” Vivian lets her in and at last they share a very long, sweaty and realistic kiss, with no soundtrack to distract the viewer.
4. Sophia and Sian on Corrie
Four belongs to the Coronation Street kiss between best friends Sophie and Sian last year. Chatting about their disappointments in love. Suddenly, Sophie tells Sian: “You are far more important to me than any lad.” A shocked-looking Sian gasps and runs out of the house, only to return later to give Sophie a brilliant, heartfelt snog.
3. Violet and Vita in Portrait of a Marriage
Screened in 1990 by the BBC, a compelling drama based on the Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson 1973 biography compiled from her journals and letters made a huge impact on many young lesbians at the time. Violet, in love with Vita, is begging her to leave her husband. They are laying down together under a tree, full of angst and longing. They begin kissing passionately having spoken of their mutual love for one another.
2. My lesbian kiss from the 1970s
I was 15, and had a rash on my chin from kissing my one and only boyfriend. His beard stubble, sloppy mouth and persistent tongue were a distant memory by the time I was tickling the tonsils of my best schoolfriend. Her soft lips and sweet breath converted me to lezzerism immediately, and there is truly no turning back for me, almost 35 years later.
1. Political activist Jill Johnston and two of her friends
Jill Johnston, author of the brilliant book Lesbian Nation, was invited to a Theatre of Ideas debate in New York City chaired by the writer Norman Mailer in 1971. The debate was filmed and appeared on our TV screens a few years later. Mailer had just published the misogynistic essay The Prisoner of Sex. Various other feminist speakers challenged Mailer’s view of women, but it was Johnston who unnerved him. “All women are lesbians,” she said, resplendent in her patchwork jeans and no make-up, “except those who don’t know it yet.”
Suddenly two of Johnston’s friends leapt up on the stage and the three women began kissing and rolling around on the stage together. The audience began to gasp with a combination of horror and delight as Johnston took no notice of pleas from Mailer to “be a lady”. It was, without doubt, the most political if not sensuous lesbian kiss to date.