macys thanksgiving parade lesbian kiss

We’re Thrilled About the First Lesbian Kiss at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Even If Conservatives Are Angry About It

Representation matters. Also suck it.

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It’s a Thanksgiving tradition to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is more of a variety show than a parade at this point in time. One of the newer parts (and by newer, I mean the past ten years or so) is the inclusion of Broadway numbers from popular musicals, performed in front of Macy’s itself, which can be fun or frustrating, depending on how much of a parade traditionalist you are.

This year, one of the featured numbers was the finale from the musical The Prom, which I had never heard of before but am now dying to see.

The Prom tells the story of Emma, a high school student who wants to bring her girlfriend Alyssa to their prom. However, their conservative Indiana high school refuses to give them permission. Two Broadway actors then rally to the girls’ cause. The final number is an empowering group piece, and it features the two girls holding hands, slow dancing together, and kissing.

The number was not edited for the parade (because there’s no reason to), and so two girls kissed on national television in the middle of one of Middle America’s big holiday moments.

Naturally, Twitter reflected some less-than-happy responses to such a moment, with others thankfully taking them to task for their nastiness and bigotry.

No one was naïve enough to believe that there wouldn’t be backlash. However, this moment is too large to be overshadowed by the pushback. One of the most “family-friendly” traditions just became more inclusive in a huge way. The kiss wasn’t edited out. They didn’t try to cut around it, or try to minimize it in any way. They were onscreen on national television, and the only broken innocence is kids hearing their bigoted family members say cruel things afterwards.

More and more kid-oriented media has shown itself to be LGBTQ+ friendly, but these shows are often written off as being niche, with minimal representation occurring in the mainstream. Many big franchises aimed at kids, as well as adults, have avoided including explicit LGBTQ+ rep, and those that do are said to be more “adult,” which implies that the existence of LGBTQ+ characters is inherently grown-up or sexual—a bullshit misconception that is deeply harmful—but the parade made a conscious choice to feature the “gay agenda.”

The performance could not possibly be considered adult. The two teen protagonists hold hands. They slow dance together. Their kiss is chaste, and yet, as expected, conservatives are acting as though a sexually explicit Avenue Q-esque sequence occurred. Never mind that somewhere, a young girl struggling with her own sexuality might have seen this kiss happen, not as a secret moment but as something celebrated, and felt a little less alone.

Representation matters across the board. This is a hugely important step for normalizing same-gender couples, especially since this wasn’t presented as a Very Special Event. It’s special because of the moment it represents, but it was treated normally by the producers and performers. There will hopefully be more goodwill generated than hate, and we can continue to see same-gender couples depicted without fuss or fanfare.

(image: screengrab/NBC)

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Author
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.