The MTV Movie Awards’ Best Kiss Category and TV’s Embrace of Same-Sex Intimacy

Best Kiss is everyone’s favorite MTV Movie Awards category, but starting in 1998, it began to take on a new lease of life. That year, when I was 11 and tuning in from my parents’ living room, I saw something I didn’t expect—it was the first time I remember watching two men share a romantic kiss.

In the video above, watch how the same-sex kiss became an institution at the awards, roping in straight guys, Marvel superheroines, and even, occasionally, characters who were actually gay. On a celebratory platform favored by young viewers, Best Kiss quietly became an important symbolic outlet for normalizing images of same-sex intimacy.