Monday, June 9, 2008

Hissing at Kissing

I'm the only person in Seattle who hasn't weighed in on the Ballpark Kissers. Time for me to step up to the plate.

The case of the two lesbians ordered to stop smooching at a Seattle Mariners game has not only engrossed the local media and blogging types, but has popped up in newspapers from Cape Cod to Minneapolis to Phoenix.

The nationwide interest in this incident seems to stem from its contrast with Seattle's gay-friendly reputation. I presume the salacious aspect hasn't hurt, either.

In case you've still managed to miss the details, let's review them. Sirbrina Guerrero, 23, attended a Mariners game at Safeco Field with a date, 21, who's in the closet. During the third inning, an usher told the two gals to stop kissing. A woman nearby had complained that kids were in the crowd and parents would be forced to explain why two women were locking lips.

Accused of necking, Guerrero said later she and her date merely pecked while eating garlic fries. They "were just showing affection," but a straight couple about seven rows away was making out.

First, if Guerrero and her date were eating garlic fries, it's a good thing they had each other to kiss.

Second, it's ironic that the closeted girlfriend now finds herself nationally referred to, even if anonymously, as a participant in a lesbian smooching furor.

Third, considering how disappointing the Mariners have been this season, they're lucky to have anybody in the stands.

In the days that followed, Dan Savage, sex-advice columnist and editor of a Seattle alternative weekly, called for a kiss-in. Some accused Guerrero, who was a contestant on the MTV reality show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila," of seeking attention.

Then the Mariners released the results of an internal review. "We believe that our staff acted appropriately because they were responding to the behavior of the couple involved, not because of the couple's sexual orientation."

Two staffers described that behavior as "making out," "fondling," and "groping."

If that's true, I guess the gals weren't really interested in the game.

Safeco staffers told the women to "tone it down," not stop kissing. The two "refused to modify their behavior, began swearing at the seating hosts and complained that they were being singled out for their sexual orientation."

The Mariners bemoaned the accusations of discrimination. And well they should, since non-discrimination is their policy and the city's law. Moreover, since Seattle has such a large gay population, the organization would be dumber than toast to alienate all those paying customers.

To Guerrero, the Mariners' statement was as palatable as following garlic fries with nachos, sushi, and cotton candy. "What they are saying is so far from the truth," she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "It makes me sick."

She said she's never experienced discrimination—"until now." What happened at Safeco was "very painful and embarrassing."

So as I write this the situation has come down to he said, she said, oy vey.

Whatever the truth, whatever the motivations, this case has raised several important questions. Seattleites are doing some soul-searching on how gay-friendly they really are. It's never a bad thing for a majority to ponder how it treats a minority.

Then there's the matter of public displays of affection. The same rules that apply to straights should apply to gays. Kissing at the ballpark is fine. Fondling at the ballpark is not. Unless what you're fondling is the baseball you just caught.

Regarding that woman in the crowd who complained to the usher--if the lesbians were being a spectacle, then fine. But if she can't bear to see any lesbian affection for fear of having to explain it to kids, she'd best plan on never leaving the house.