The man whose research I mention in I Kiss Them Because I Love Them, Dr Eric Anderson, is interviewed by The Guardian newspaper.
It's worth quoting extensively:
Anderson, 43, now believes homophobia is dying out on university campuses, and says attitudes to male kissing reflect that. "Sexual minorities have made tremendous cultural and legal improvements towards equality – the media is saturated with images of sexual minorities, and homosexuality is almost normalised today," he says. "This is particularly true of youth. Young people have disassociated themselves from homophobia the way they once did from racism.
"This is not to say that all youth are gay-friendly, but there's an awareness that anybody can be gay without the homohysteria – where men try to act in sexist, hyper-macho and homophobic ways to prove they are not gay – that used to exist. Young men are becoming softer and more inclusive."
Anderson says men are now kissing each other to show their "intimacy towards one another", but not in a homosexual way. "The kisses seem to be stripped of sexual connotation, and given the percentage of men doing them, they certainly do not indicate a hidden homosexual desire."
The trend, he adds, is not just in a few UK universities or even limited to Britain. "I've interviewed graduate students who did their bachelor degrees at other universities, and been to undergraduate clubs and pubs from Bristol to Birmingham to Edinburgh – I can definitively say that although the percentages might vary depending on the city, the class and the racial background, these kissing behaviours are happening all over the country. I have also found it occurring in a fifth of the 60 university soccer players I interviewed in the US, and have a friend who is beginning formal research into male kissing in Australia after recording it there."
The soaring popularity of male kissing is, Anderson believes, partly thanks to the behaviour of professional sportsmen, especially top football players. "That has been mimicked by footballers at lower levels – a kiss in a moment of sporting glory. When these men brought it into the pubs, their kisses made it OK for other men to do the same. The knock-on effect is that gay men can now kiss in student spaces as well." He believes that his findings indicate that the UK is "near the end of homophobia being acceptable for youth in the UK".
He explains: "You would be gravely mistaken to think that most youth are homophobic. Kids are coming out earlier and earlier – contact theory works: we all have gay friends and family members today. Homophobia is in rapid retreat – it's just not the issue it was when I was a kid."
He's doing more research on the straight cuddle:
Anderson is now moving his research on to cuddling. "Last week, I was talking to my second-year students about two straight men cuddling; they laughed, 'what's the big deal about that'," he says. "I polled them, and found that 14/15 said they had spooned another man, in bed, sleeping all night long. Gone are the days in which men would rather sleep on the floor or head to toe; not only do they share beds and cuddle, but they are not homosexualised for this."