Gays of Our Lives: South of Nowhere Taught Me What Women Kissing Can Look Like
Along with Rent, the teen show, South of Nowhere was among the first times, in my early life I saw a lesbian couple being treated with real humanity. From 2005 to 2008, the show told the story of the Carlin family, Paula, Arthur, Glen, Clay, and Spencer, as they settle into their new home in Los Angeles, California.
The most important part of the story was the iconic relationship between Spencer Carlin and Ashely Davies. Spencer and Ashely, known in the fandom as Spashley, were probably my first gay couple growing up. Because it was airing on The N, it was filled with endless angst and drama. Ashley was the “bad girl” so naturally she was the bisexual character (I didn’t say it was perfect) and Spencer had a conservative mother and came from Ohio.
The thing that I remember loving so much about Spashley was how affectionately they interacted together. The yearning looks and, early on, the tight hugs that linger a little bit longer in the build-up to actually confessing their feelings for one another. Their first kiss was this amazing moment that I remember being completely shaken by because it was so beautiful and it seemed so loving compared to other kisses between women I’d seen.
When same-sex kisses are done for voyeurism you can tell by the way the camera lingers on the tongue and how there is no emotional between it, no real chemistry, it’s just there.
How you frame two women kissing is just as important as having that representation. In Black Swan, Cruel Intentions and Jennifer’s Body, the kiss scenes between the women are so detached from actual emotional that even when visually pleasing–and many of them are–it is so empty. Because it’s not for queer women or an audience that cares about queer women, it’s about people who want to be turned on by watching two women kissing.
Compare the kisses between Laura and Carmilla in Carmilla belo–how in the beginning they are these passionate kisses that are built up because of the relationship between two women. They kiss each other because this is the natural part of the story and the relationship that’s being told. There is passion, there is lust, there is something there. Or Cosima and Delphine from Orphan Black, Bo and Lauren from Lost Girl or we even go back to the OG Willow and Tara on Buffy (I didn’t watch Buffy growing up so I missed this moment).
It’s not Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried swapping spit on a bed with the camera down their throats so we can see every tongue motion.
South of Nowhere, for all its problems in many regards (justice for Clay), gave us a fully realized relationship between two women that, eventually, ended with them together. It taught me that kisses between women can be sensitive and sweet and filled with emotional depth without needing to be the result of a crisis.
I’m not saying there isn’t room for some hot, spitting into someone’s mouth sex scenes between women, but we are still working to see lesbian sex be shown for the emotional layered experience it can be. Which includes some good kiss scenes.
What are some of your favorite same-sex kiss scenes?
Sidenote: How many dark-haired bad girl /blonde lady couples does the world need?
(via Pride Vortex, image: The N)
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