Thursday, June 12, 2008

Men in tight pants holding bats? It don't take Sigmund Freud...

It would almost be romantic, if it wasn't so sad; it might even be the opposite of romantic at this point. Something that rarely happens in real life: two people kissing has started a war. A culture war, at this point.

On May 26, the Seattle Mariners were playing a home game against the Boston Red Sox. Sirbrina Guerrero was on a date, and they were kissing in the bleachers at Safeco Field. An usher asked them to stop, because they were making another fan uncomfortable. The unnamed mother who complained didn't want to explain to her children why two women were kissing.
"I was really just shocked," Guerrero said "Seattle is so gay-friendly. There was a couple like seven rows ahead making out. We were just showing affection."
And this incident shows no sign of going away quietly.
The incident has exploded on local TV, on talk radio and in the blogosphere and has touched off a debate over public displays of affection in generally gay-friendly Seattle.

"Certain individuals have not yet caught up. Those people see a gay or lesbian couple and they stare or say something," said Josh Friedes of Equal Rights Washington. "This is one of the challenges of being gay. Everyday things can become sources of trauma."
The Mariners said they have investigated, and their seating staff acted appropriately. Spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said the usher was responding to a complaint of two women "making out" and "groping" in the stands. "We have a strict non-discrimination policy at the Seattle Mariners and at Safeco Field, and when we do enforce the code of conduct it is based on behavior, not on the identity of those involved," Hale explained. The code of conduct is announced before each game, and specifically prohibits public displays of affection that are "not appropriate in a public, family setting." Hale said those standards are based on what a "reasonable person" would find inappropriate.

According to other reports, when Guerrero confronted the usher, he seemed to backtrack, telling her "I'm just the messenger here." So Guerrero and three of her friends sought out a supervisor in Guest Services to file a formal complaint. It does appear that this wasn't a case of an overly-officious stadium employee imposing his own opinion on a situation he disapproved of: an investigation by park staff seems to indicate that the usher was acting on a complaint by another patron, although nobody has turned up the mother in question. Further, Guerrero apparently has acknowledged that the director of Guest Services apologized to her when she complained.

Dan Savage, who writes a syndicated column on sex and "alternative lifestyles" for The Stranger, suggested in his blog that "we need to stage a kiss-in." (Technically, he only suggested it in the title, but he received a great deal of publicity when the Associated Press quoted him.)

The only mention of "Guerrero" that shows up on the Mariners' homepage is the Los Angeles Angels' Vladimir Guerrero, recently sidelined with a sore knee.

One thing that has been pointed out in several forums is Ms. Guerrero's... unusual background. If you followed the links to MTV (the one on her name) you know that she's a "professional mechanical bull rider" (I'd ask if that was really a job, but apparently, there are place where it might just be). Further than that, in the original newspaper article, we find
Since the incident, her job and her past have come under scrutiny. She works at a bar known for scantily clad women and was a contestant on the MTV reality show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila," in which women and men compete for the affection of a bisexual Internet celebrity.

"People are saying it's 15 more minutes for my career," Guerrero said of the ballpark furor, "but this is not making me look very good."
Now, here's the thing. Yes, she doesn't seem to have the publicity-shy attitude of the average citizen. But since the park is admitting that the incident happened, and she has witnesses saying that she wasn't dry-humping her girlfriend, I think what went down was this: the park decided to punch down with the dictatorial whack-a-mole hammer, in order to enforce their self-created "rules of behavior", and suddenly, they discovered that they'd come down on somebody who wasn't willing to just roll over.

The average Joe Citizen, told by ushers that he needed to stop groping his girlfriend, even if he just gave her a quick peck between garlic fries, would just hunker down in his seat, muttering "I didn't do nuthin' wrong" and that would be that. But Sirbrina decided to stand up and push back. And the stadium administration wasn't ready for that.

But just for the sake of argument, let's say that Sirbrina was involved in a deep, heavy, tongue-involved snog with this girl-who-doesn't-want-to-be-named. Would that have been OK if it was a man and a woman, instead of a woman and another woman? Actually, it would probably have ended up on the Jumbotron, for the whole audience to cheer them on. So why is it wrong that it's the same scenario, but with a different cast?

Hell, I think it's a good thing, even if Sirbrina had her hand all up in her still-in-the-closet girlfriend's shirt. Test the stupid rules, kick over the rocks and see what comes crawling out.

But that's just me. Maybe I've got the wrong attitude.

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