On Sunday, Hillary Clinton released a campaign ad touting her record as an advocate for LGBT rights. The 70-second spot is a pretty low-budget affair, interweaving Clinton’s pro-LGBT speeches (including her landmark Geneva address) with clips of lovey-dovey gay couples. Democratic candidates release stuff like this all the time, and the ad would be unremarkable but for one radical detail: It includes several lingering images of same-sex couples kissing.
It is a depressing but incontestable fact that most straight people—including many LGBT allies—are uncomfortable with the sight of same-sex kisses. Some straight people defend their disgust by pretending to be repulsed by all public kissing, but as I explained in 2014, that’s plainly untrue:
We are constantly inundated by heterosexual kisses; we see them when we turn on the TV, when we go to a sporting event, when we step outside the house. Straight people are permitted to kiss pretty much anywhere, anytime, without thinking twice about it—and only the most puritanical reactionary would ever complain. That’s a key entitlement of heterosexuality.
Given the distressingly puritanical rules that govern gay PDAs, it’s both impressive and heartening that Clinton includes gay kisses in her official campaign spots. The ad forces viewers to confront images that might make them feel slightly uneasy, then encourages them to view such affection as a normal, healthy manifestation of adult intimacy. Clinton’s dubious long-term record on gay rights has given me pause in the past. But her new ad, combined with a recent slew of strikingly passionate pro-gay speeches, has persuaded me that, at the very least, she’ll support and expand President Barack Obama’s incredible legacy on LGBT rights.