So many possibilities.

So many possibilities.

This is Parting Glance, Cinephiled’s column about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender film. Sometimes we will discuss serious gay issues. Sometimes we will profile queer movies both past and present. Sometimes we will look at shirtless pictures of Gael Garcia Bernal and daydream about the possibilities.

Today, we’re talking about straight dudes making out with each other.

I had a really good time at Kill Your Darlings. Not because it’s one of the best movies of the year. It’s not. It wasn’t because I saw it at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, a theater where you can order food and booze during the film. The basket of calamari I ordered certainly contributed to my enjoyment, but it wasn’t the instigating factor.

I had a really good time at Kill Your Darlings because of the major chemistry between stars Dane DeHaan and Daniel Radcliffe. The sexual tension between them for most of the movie was, quite frankly, delicious. Allow me to explain why.

It’s no secret that the past decade has seen an enormous leap forward in the positive representation of gay men in the media. More public figures are coming out then ever before. Gay characters populate a number of hit TV shows. Same-sex marriage is legal in a growing number of states.

Yet time and again we continue to be the brunt of the joke. Take Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “Bound 3” parody music video. The clip is a satirical take on Kanye West’s “Bound 2,” a rap song with an odd music video featuring wild horses, majestic canyons, and lots of dry humping between West and partner Kim Kardashian. All on top of a motorcycle.

(Except that she’s naked so I’m not sure it can 100% be called dry humping. Perhaps moderately damp humping. Although admittedly that sounds super gross.)

A kiss from "Bound 3."

A kiss from “Bound 3.”

Rogen and Franco recreated the video shot-for-shot. Rogen strips down for the Kardashian role and there’s a great deal of man on man action. The clip has over 10 million YouTube views and counting.

But what exactly is the joke here? Are Rogen and Franco lampooning the overwrought sexual excess of the original? Pointing out its bombast through homosexual mimicry?

That’s a valid interpretation, but it’s certainly not why the video has been labeled funny by the media and even West himself. The humor comes from watching two very famous heterosexual Hollywood movie stars making out with each other. Boiled down to its root, the joke is that two men are kissing.

Our culture has changed enough to the point where our greatest straight comic actors can kiss each other without dangerous career repercussions.

I’m not sure if that’s really an achievement.

This is the worst thing I've ever had to do ever. For real, bro!

This is the worst thing I’ve ever had to do ever. For real, bro.

The “Bound 3” example is just one of many from 2013. In March, the college comedy 21 & Over featured a scene were Skylar Astin and Miles Teller were forced to kiss by vengeful sorority sisters. They must kiss or literally be branded like cattle. They have a long discussion about it before finally sharing the lamest lip lock ever while the girls giggle to themselves.

In August the British band Mumford & Sons released a music video for their single “Hopeless Wanderer” featuring Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, and Will Forte. Sudeikis and Forte share a very sloppy kiss during an emotional moment in the song. It’s clearly played for laughs and there’s no reason for including it beyond a cheap joke.

For five years “The Kissing Family” has been a consistently popular sketch on Saturday Night Live. The basic premise is that an outsider visits a family who is overly affectionate to the point of softcore incest. The biggest laughs always come from the man on man kisses: James Franco kissing Bill Hader, Paul Rudd kissing Jason Segel, Andy Sandberg kissing Fred Armisen, etc. Eventually the simple gay joke became too commonplace and Fred Armisen kissed Will Forte’s corpse while still in the casket.

There are countless further examples from the past few years, but I think you’re getting the point. Now consider this for a moment:

Why isn’t it funny to watch Zachary Quinto kiss Zoe Saldana in Star Trek? Or Neil Patrick Harris kiss Jayma Mays in The Smurfs? Both are gay men kissing women. Why isn’t it funny to watch Eric Stonestreet kiss Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Modern Family? Or Darren Criss kiss Chris Colfer on Glee? Both are straight men kissing publicly gay men.

Why does it become less of a joke when the audience knows that one participant kisses boys in real life? Why is it funnier when we know that both parties involved are outside of their comfort zone?

Perhaps it’s because the mixed kisses in Star Trek or Modern Family are part of the actual narrative. They aren’t intended to be funny, whereas the “Bound 3” and Saturday Night Live ones are. If that’s true, then where are the dozens of examples of famous men and women doing sloppy kisses against their will to raucous reception?

It’s a crazy double standard.

Being uncomfortable with gay intimacy isn't just for sweater vest enthusiasts.

Being uncomfortable with gay intimacy isn’t just for sweater vest enthusiasts.

I would argue that these comedic gay kisses allow straight audiences the chance to chuckle at something that makes them uncomfortable. I think a wide swath of the heterosexual population is still uncomfortable with gay intimacy.

When I say wide swath, I’m not just talking about people who wanted Rick Santorum for president. I’m talking about the entire spectrum: God Hates Fags Bible thumpers to ardent marriage equality supporters.

Straight people can support gay rights on principle or because they have a gay uncle or because they enjoy shooting pool after work with a gay colleague. Straight people can support gay people without fully understanding them. It’s a wonderful thing and it’s the reason the gay community has been able to come so far in such a concentrated period of time.

But much in the same way that having a black friend doesn’t give a white person the full picture of the black experience, so it goes with friendships between gay and straight people. Two men kissing will always disgust a prejudiced and (thankfully) dwindling segment of the straight population. But for the majority of the straight population, two men kissing for real remains a foreign act. Even if they have a gay bestie.

It’s foreign because so often it still gets played for laughs.

I want to do a lot more than high five.

I want to do a lot more than high five.

Which brings us back to Kill Your Darlings. Daniel Radcliffe is sensational as a young Allen Ginsberg. You can see the ache in his eyes the second he meets Dane DeHaan’s Lucien Carr. It’s so satisfying to watch the straight lead actor from the most profitable franchise in film history lust after boys. And not for a few brief moments like the intense scene between Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in J. Edgar. For a full two hours! That’s enough time for two baskets of calamari!

Luckily, I resisted.

Straight people are used to seeing their favorite stars in romantic situations that mirror their own lives. For gay people, it’s a rare privilege. It’s a mainstream lifestyle affirmation that should come far more often.

Gay love shouldn’t be closely followed by straight laughter. If the practice continues, I’m going to start going into sports bars and laughing at straight people.

Kill Your Darlings is in theaters now. It’s pretty terrific, especially if you have any interest in literature or movies about the seedier side of history. Or if you just want to watch the former Harry Potter rock a series of chunky 1940s sweaters.

You can read “The Magical Faggot,” the inaugural Parting Glance column, by clicking here.