In This Instance, a Kiss Should Be Cause for Pause
Adam Sandler kissed Jack Nicholson at a Lakers game last year and everybody found it hilarious. Now same-sex kissing is back in the news, only it's not so easy to laugh off.
A group of gay men and lesbians want "Kiss Cam" equality. The group has an outing planned for Saturday's St. Louis Cardinals game, and members would like to be shown giving each other a smooch.
That ought to go over real well in Middle America.
I'd like to take the socially enlightened high road on this one, but I can't help sympathizing with that father who'll be sitting next to his son or daughter at Busch Stadium.
"Daddy, why are those two men kissing?"
"Umm, err, hey isn't that Albert Pujols coming to bat?"
If you have similar qualms, does that make us homophobic? I'd like to think not, but then I've never sat in a gay person's seat during "Kiss Cam."
In case you haven't been to a game in a dozen or so years, a camera pans the crowd during a timeout or between innings. It usually settles in on an embarrassed man and woman.
A superimposed heart frames the couple. Appropriate music plays. It's usually something like "As Time Goes By."
"You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh ..."
That was easy for Sam to sing in Casablanca. Rick's Café didn't have a "Kiss Cam" and gays weren't demanding the respect they deserve.
Now, they are. Their latest beef sprang from the Rams' opener this past week. Two guys in Arizona jerseys became the focus of 67,044 fans. The crowd cajoled them to kiss. The men reacted like kids facing a cootie outbreak.
The obvious message was that Cardinals fans are gay, and gay is emasculating. The group behind Saturdays "OUT at the Ballpark" promotion then requested equal PDA time.
"We always felt left out because the kiss cam always singles out heterosexual couples," organizer Harrison Roberts told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "But after what happened at the Rams game, all the gay and lesbian fans that were there felt embarrassed and a little degraded.
"Why shouldn't we be on camera, too?"
Because I'm not ready to discuss same-sex relationships with my 3-year-old. I don't think she's ready, either.
I suppose at this point I should say that some of my best friends and relatives are gay. All the usual disclaimers sound empty to some activists.
To them, the old Shield-the-Kids excuse simply masks an underlying bias. A same-sex smooch is no different than if Nicholson had planted a wet one on Dyan Cannon. If "Kiss Cam" showed an interracial couple, would you quickly cover Little Johnny's eyes?
The sooner my kids see examples of racial harmony, the better. But this issue has torn up entire religions. Call me homophobic, but I just don't think a 5- or 10-year-old brain is ready to tackle those complexities.
Besides, can't we just enjoy our peanuts and Cracker Jacks?
I'm not the only one who feels this way. The Washington Mystics got rid of "Kiss Cam" altogether.
"We've got a lot of children here," managing partner Sheila Johnson told the Washington Post.
The Mystics realize this isn't a simple case of equal video rights.
If my daughter grows up and falls happily in love with another woman, I'll proudly walk her down the aisle. But parents should be able to discuss such issues when they choose, not when the local sports team flashes them on a scoreboard.
So I understand why gays get mad at "Kiss Cam" pranks. I get why they demand equal time and respect.
I just wish they'd accept that sometimes a kiss is not just a kiss.