These Strangers Kissing Is a Surprising Testament To Equality


The moment when two people stop being just friends and see each other as something more is a confusing, mysterious thing. An amateur filmmaker set off to try to capture this catalyst — and the result is a surprisingly touching study in the commonalities of human sexuality.

For her "First Kiss" video, filmmaker Tatia Pilieva asked 20 strangers to kiss on camera. While just a few minutes long, Pilieva's project captures the range of emotions present in scenes where the first meeting immediately precipitates a first kiss.

Her subjects, men and women of unknown sexual orientation, all exhibit similar emotions when faced with the awkwardness of an artificial setting. Some try to talk away their nerves, others laugh or fidget, but ultimately they all end up surrendering to the concept of inevitable intimacy with a stranger. 

The black-and-white video, powerful in its simplicity and candor, also gives credence to the idea of sexuality as an act, or an action. There is no difference between the nerves or intimacies of the men kissing women, the men kissing men or the women kissing other women.

Pilieva's strangers have no apparent sexuality until they come into intimate contact with another person. Only then does the sexuality become "readable." Ultimately, this viral video documents not only the almost noir-like romance of the meeting of two strangers, but more sophisticatedly, the moment sexuality is rendered visible in culture.