June 5, 2008

Kiss Off, Seattle

Two women went out on a date to a Mariners game earlier this week. Like many couples do while on dates, they kissed each other. Someone complained, and an usher told them to stop or they'd have to leave. (Sorry, sports fans, I'm not going to post a picture of women kissing in this post. Just text for this one.) The women protested, as one might easily have predicted, that hundreds of heterosexual couples in the park were doing exactly what they were doing and not being bothered by the ushers.

A big stink got raised, and suddenly the reports of the women kissing escalated into "making out and groping." One of the women has spoken to the press and she says there was no groping going on. I'm tending towards believing her side of that story, if only because groping one's partner is not really something one can do at a baseball game as a practical matter. Groping in a really public place, and in those awkward seats, just doesn't lend itself well to a particularly satisfying grope.

Tongues? Well, I'll believe that somewhat immature people will do tongue kissing in public places, but that's based purely on my observation of straight couples. I suppose gay people are as likely to engage in that sort of immature behavior as straight people. I've only ever once seen a gay couple tongue-kiss in public, and that was a goodbye at the airport, which is somewhat understandable.

So, I'm inclined to agree with Seattle-based sex-and-relationship advice columnist Dan Savage of Savage Love, who suggests that:

Many heterosexuals regard any signs of same-sex affection as shove-it-down-our-throats assaults on all things good and decent. A straight kiss is cute; a lesbian kiss is lewd. A boy with his arm around the shoulder of a girl is endearing; a boy with his arm around another boy is groping.
Warning: The link above probably contains some NSFW advertisements and the language is sporadically a little edgy. But Savage is a really good writer and if you've the stomach for that sort of thing, he's the only sex-and-relationship advice columnist out there who's worth reading.

Savage is gay himself, and thus may be a little bit more sensitive to that sort of thing than straight guys like me. But that doesn't mean he's wrong -- indeed, I think he's right, and particularly so given that the sort of person who would complain about a couple kissing at a baseball stadium is likely to be somewhat prudish and more likely than other folks to possess this sort of discriminatory attitude.

It's difficult to imagine how, without film of what was going on that apparently doesn't exist, this can possibly be conclusively investigated. The usher (and probably the complainant) will say that there was making out and groping going on, and that wouldn't be appropriate for any kind of couple, whether gay, lesbian, or hetero. The two women, and any friends or supporters who may have been with them, will insist that no, they were kissing but these were just "pecks" on the cheek or lips, the sort of public display of affection that is not only tolerated but sometimes encouraged at a ballpark (Dodger Stadium, for instance, does a "kiss cam" sequence in between some innings, putting live images of couples kissing up on the big stadium monitor).

I don't know if Washington's laws are as strong as California's about discriminating against gay people, but it seems like a bad thing for a publicity-oriented business like a professional sports team to even be accused of discriminationg against anyone. As I understand it, Seattle has a pretty robust gay community, something on par with San Francisco's, Miami's, or New York's, so that should make the Mariners particularly sensitive to being accused of being anti-gay. There are calls for gay couples to attend a Mariners game en masse and stage a "kiss-in," which is certainly one way for that community to respond.

I thought earlier today that a good thing for the Mariners to do would be to have a "Gay Day," some kind of way to reach out to the gay community and invite them to come to the ballpark. But given that there is still a whole lot of discrimination against gays floating around out there in the cultural landscape, I suppose I can understand why they would hesitate to do something like that. And if you substitute different kinds of groups for "Gay" in the idea of "Gay Day at the Ballpark," it can start to get pretty offensive pretty fast. "Mexican-American Day at the Ballpark." "Jewish Day at the Ballpark." That all just sounds kind of not very good. So on further reflection, "Gay Day" might not be such a good idea after all.

The right resolution to the situation, seems to me, would be for the Mariners to offer the women who were confronted by the usher some good tickets to another game, and maybe throw in a gift certificate for some refreshments, courtesy of the management, along with a brief apology for any "misunderstanding" that might have happened earlier. It doesn't need to be over the top with dugout tours or having them throw out the first pitch or anything, just something to say, "Ladies, you're welcome at our ballpark and we hope you come back and enjoy another game." The Mariners aren't doing too well this season so they need all the fan support they can get.

1 comment:

zzi said...

No June 6th post. Lets not forget the 10,000 casualties.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith ...

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944