If the Jumbotron at AT&T Park is to be believed, there are no gay people in San Francisco. Either that, or the city’s sizeable gay community includes no baseball fans. The evidence of this is that during the sixth inning of every game, the filler between innings is something called the Kiss Cam. The Kiss Cam consists of couples from the stands being shown on the giant screen in centerfield. After a few seconds, the couple generally notices they are on the screen and kiss each other. The crowd then cheers and the next couple is shown. The couples on the Kiss Cam invariable consist of a man and a woman. Same sex couples are seemingly never shown.
Given that there are almost certainly numerous gay couples at every one of the Giants home games, this is both inexplicable and disturbing. The Giants may not have a policy of discriminating against gay people on the Kiss Cam, but it sure seems that way. Given that the Giants have been one of the leaders in professional sports on gay and lesbian issues, this is particularly surprising. The Giants, for example, were the first professional sports team to support and create a video for the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” campaign. Additionally, since 1994, the team has hosted Until There’s a Cure Day to raise money and awareness to fight AIDS. The Giants were also the first professional sports team to do that.
In general, the Giants also seem to have a lot less of the machismo that can be very unpleasant for many fans. This is a team whose best player is a long-haired, slight pitcher who, while as mentally tough as anybody in the game, is something of a baby-faced, soft-spoken hippie, and whose players have gentle nicknames like the Panda and the Baby Giraffe.
AT&T park is not only one of the best big league stadiums for watching a game, it is one of the most progressively run stadiums in the country, boasting free valet parking for cyclists and was the first big league ballpark to be awarded silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Overall, among professional sports teams the Giants have been on the cutting edge of gay/lesbian and environmental issues; and showing same sex couples kissing would be consistent with this image the franchise has striven to create.
The obvious logistical challenge associated with featuring same sex couples on the Kiss Cam is that there are a lot of men who attend games together who are not couples; and the camera operators at the ballpark should not be in the business of trying to determine who is gay and who is not. This, however, is more of an excuse than a legitimate reason to discriminate against same sex couples. It is also, of course, true that not every man and woman sitting next to each other feel like kissing simply because a camera is on them. During a recent game I attended among the couples on screen were a man and a woman who appeared to be siblings and were not interested in kissing each other, as well as a couple that appeared to have been caught onscreen in the middle of an argument and were also disinclined to kiss, but this did not discourage the Kiss Cam from showing more man and woman couples. Accordingly, it would be easy enough for two men who were put on the screen by the Kiss Cam but did not want to kiss to simply wave at the camera.
If these solutions prove unworkable and the logistical obstacles remain insurmountable, which they should not, the Giants should simply cancel the Kiss Cam. Preserving a silly piece of between inning entertainment, or letting policy be dictated by modest logistical issues, should be far less important for the team and the ballpark than treating all Giant fans equally. There are many other things the Giants could do other than the Kiss Cam for those two minutes or so. They could show cute kids, people in the goofiest Giants costumes or perhaps most radically, nothing at all, giving their fans time to contemplate the Giants lack of offense in silence. Giving up the Kiss Cam in favor of any of these options would be a negligible price to pay to avoid discriminating against some fans.