The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was subjected to what they perceived as homophobic treatment during their rendition of the national anthem before Saturday’s Padres game, and the reactions displayed since then by both the Chorus themselves and the social media public have been explosive.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which provides the longest and most in-depth report of the incident, Saturday’s game was “Pride Night” at San Diego’s Petco Park. Because the night was specifically designated to appeal to members of San Diego’s LGBT community, the San Diego Gay Men’s chorus was scheduled to give the traditional performance of the United States national anthem before the first pitch.
When the crowd fell quiet and the Chorus was supposed to start singing, however, a recording of a woman singing the national anthem blared out over the stadium’s speakers instead of the recording that the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus had prepared beforehand.
The Chorus members stood solemnly for the duration of the recording, hands over their hearts, before being ushered off the field.
The San Diego Padres management was obviously aware of the mistake, and they made a point to apologize quickly by issuing an official statement during the game.
“This evening, during the pregame ceremony,” the statement read, “a mistake was made in the Petco Park control room that prevented the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus from performing the National Anthem as scheduled. We apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended, and have reached out to the Chorus to express our deep regret for the error.”
The apology, which would later be torn apart by social media for not being sincere enough, was apparently not nearly enough for the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Hours later, the group posted a very lengthy statement on their Facebook page voicing their great distaste for the underwhelming attempt to make amends.
The statement notes that the San Diego Padres said they were sorry, but they did not reflect that sentiment in their actions by restaging the national anthem performance or even compensating the Chorus members for the tickets they had been forced to buy in order to perform.
“No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song’s duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts including “You sing like a girl.”
Social media did not take long to join the Gay Men’s Chorus in their attack on the San Diego Padres, and comments about how underhanded and despicable the actions displayed by the Padres soon began to flood Twitter.
Although the comments defending the San Diego Padres are much fewer and further in between, there are some.
“How were the Padres homophobic in this situation?” asks Facebook user Steve Simonds.
“I understand the fans may have yelled out stupid crap to the chorus but how are the SD Padres responsible for their fans behavior? This entire sentence is idiotic: ‘instead turned into a nightmare raising serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community.'”
“They screwed up the recordings, s**t happens. In no way were the Padres homophobic or degrading to your organization. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, act like men for God’s sake; not whining children playing the victim.”
Another Facebook user, Jeff Johnson, retorted that although the slurs may not have been the Padres’ fault, the San Diego MLB club certainly could have made more effort to take responsibility for what happened at their park.
“No excuse for not stopping the playback immediately and letting the chorus sing the anthem as they were supposedly invited to do. Totally intentional treatment.”
Other defenders of the San Diego Padres organization, such as the publicly gay MLB Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean, point out that the Padres have a great track record with the LGBT community, having hosted similar “Pride Nights” for years without incident.
Since the incident, San Diego Padres President Mike Dee has been apologizing profusely and even meeting with San Diego area LGBT leaders to discuss what happened, reports Daily News, but people still have their doubts about whether the bridges being mended are going to hold.
Do you think the allegedly homophobic national anthem debacle was actually a dig at the LGBT community or just an unfortunate technical error?
[Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images]