I Kissed A Boy is the UK’s first gay male dating show. In a similar style to Love Island, it sees ten men coupled up and looking for love over eight episodes.1
The show is designed to bring more diversity and representation to what’s been a largely heterosexual format, and to break down some of the stereotypes around gay men and their dating lives.
There are plenty of touching moments along the way. There’s nervous Josh who grew up in a Mormon family, believing homosexuality was a sin, and who has no previous experience of dating other men. There’s Gareth’s tears as he recalls growing up in church in Northern Ireland, turning to girlfriends in the hope of ‘fixing’ his sexuality. There’s Matty getting emotional as he expresses how he’s still not fully happy with himself and his sexuality. And there’s an interesting discussion about marriage as either just an excuse for a big party or an outdated thing of the past for straight people.
The show succeeds in eliciting a lot of love and empathy for these men. They all seem to have a genuine desire for a long-term partner. They support each other through all the ups and downs of the series and in the different stages they’re at in coming out and navigating life as gay men. It also looks like a lot of fun, with plenty of partying, edgy fashion, and banter.
In some ways, watching the series proved a painful reminder of the sort of life I’m missing out on. In other ways, it provided a beautiful reminder that nothing compares to life with Jesus.
I’ve found that the way to be my truest and most authentic self is not to build my life around my sexuality, but to build it on following Jesus.
As I watched the show, part of me saw the genuine love between these men and wondered, ‘How could that be wrong?’. We all need love and intimacy, and there’s beauty in seeing people enjoy that. There was a lot about them and their lives that I understood and wanted to be a part of.
But I was also reminded of my own failed attempts to find what I need in gay relationships. When I’ve strayed from God’s good ways, it’s always ended in a big mess. I’ve found that the way to be my truest and most authentic self is not to build my life around my sexuality, but to build it on following Jesus. Those relationships might provide some temporary satisfaction, but Jesus really is ‘the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6). He’s the one with the words of eternal life (John 6:68), the only one who can fully satisfy my desires and give me life to the full now and in eternity. Following him means making decisions about my relationships that are sometimes painful, but I know it’s worth it.
Ultimately, human relationships are messy. I Kissed A Boy proves that – there are plenty of dramas and misunderstandings along the way: people failing to communicate their feelings, feeling rejected by or hurting other people, holding grudges and taking sides. No single relationship can give us what we truly need, other than a relationship with the God who made us.
In some ways, that’s what struck me most about the series: this is a diverse group of individuals who are all made, known and loved by God like anyone else, looking to love and be loved like anyone else. Some of them have been hurt by the Church, as is sadly to be expected, but all of them are invited to enjoy a deeply intimate and life-giving relationship with God. Pursuing that relationship, rather than trying to find the perfect man or woman, is ultimately what’s best for all of us.
It won’t necessarily be helpful viewing for everyone, but if nothing else I Kissed A Boy is a window into gay life and culture, and could well increase your empathy and understanding for LGBT people who are so dearly loved by God. It’s a reminder of the things we all long for – love, security, authenticity – and how these desires are only truly met in Jesus.
- 'BBC Three - I Kissed a Boy', BBC.