Even with the Seahawks preparing for what will likely be their sixth postseason appearance in seven years, it is a tough time to be a Seattle sports fan. Not only is the city still without a basketball team after nearly a decade, but the Mariners are a deceiving 59-53 (they were just 54-53 prior to a five-game win streak). Although they’re just 2.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot, the rest of the competition is likely too much for the team’s first shot at October baseball since 2001.
Despite having arguably a top three active pitcher (Felix Hernandez, even with his injuries this year) and second baseman (Robinson Cano), the Mariners rank just 18th in total attendance and 19th in average home crowd. Barring a miracle run down the stretch, the Mariners will likely conclude their season with a feeling of disappointment yet again, with a slight hint of jealousy as former franchise icon Ichiro Suzuki is currently on a potential playoff-bound team with the Miami Marlins.
Now, the organization is in more trouble, though not for something that happened on the field.
— Outsports (@outsports) August 10, 2016
The short version of this story, which Cyd Zeigler of Outsports covered, is that Giuliana Garcia and Calista Nabors, two lesbian women, attended August 5’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners. While waiting for friends at the concourse, the two were approached by an usher during the seventh inning. After the usher explained that a complaint had been filed against the two for public affection, Garcia and Nabors went to guest services and filed a complaint of their own.
Garcia, as has become the norm in 2016, quickly took to social media and posted a picture of the complaint on Instagram.
Well…that was horrible. We were just approached by a guest services representative at the #Mariners and told to stop "being affectionate" because this was a "family friendly environment." AKA same-sex affection isn't tolerated. We reported the incident to the guest services manager, who handled it very well and sincerely apologized. But still. I am shocked and hurt that something like this could happen–it's 2016. Hate is sadly alive and well. It is UNACCEPTABLE. I will not put up with this. We cannot stand for this. Thank you #Mariners for promising to look into this–I sincerely hope this hateful incident is addressed and resolved. #equalitynow #lgbt #seattle #safecofield @mariners @mlb @safecofield #truetotheblue
Regardless of how you feel on the topic, you have to give the woman some credit for not laying down and taking it without a fight. The anger can practically be tasted in Garcia’s post, especially this part.
“Hate is sadly alive and well. It is UNACCEPTABLE. I will not put up with this. We cannot stand for this.”
It’s important to address the elephant in the room here, which is “when is the hypocrisy of allowing public displays of affection by heterosexual couples while condemning lesbian/gay couples going to stop?” The answer is apparent at this time: never. Because of the way the human mind works and how we’re taught from an early age to look down upon things that are different or don’t fit the norm, the chances of everyone being able to see two non-heterosexuals kissing and not batting an eye are impossible.
Society has come a long way with gay rights and acceptance in the past few years, but that does not mean all parties are going to agree with one another 100 percent. As for the family-friendly argument, there shouldn’t be that much of a problem if two women are hugging one another. If this was a graphic display of public sex, that’s obviously a different conversation, but a hug or even a quick kiss? Who cares?
So many things go on at ballparks that people claim aren’t family friendly — some of which, like selling beer or the Kiss Cam, are misguided and remain family friendly if done responsibly — that a peck on the cheek shouldn’t bother people. Even if you don’t agree with gay rights, gay marriage, or anything that falls under that trope, what does it matter if two women hug? Again, a quick peck on the cheek isn’t graphic sex, so what’s the problem?
At the same time, though, the employee in question who issued the reprimand should not face any type of punishment unless he used offensive language such as slurs to the women.
Most likely, the employee was doing one of several things.
- Was using their gut, which said “this may not be family friendly and could offend fans, so I shall step in.”
- Issued the reprimand because a fan had complained and made the family-friendly argument.
- Was simply following guidelines issued by the team to all security people which is to make sure the fan atmosphere is acceptable and controversy-free.
Now, as the code of conduct does ban “displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting,” the employee was just doing his job and shouldn’t be looked upon as some homophobic jerk who the team needs to fire immediately. If anything, this should be a learning opportunity for all parties involved — as well as the sports world as a whole — that public displays of affection by two women should be treated the same way as public displays of affection by a man and a woman: shrug it off, don’t pay attention, and focus on the task at hand.
Now, more trouble is brewing as Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale is seemingly defending the decision to issue the reprimand. As Outsports explained, Hale said the usher received two complaints, one of which was confirmed to be from another Safeco Field employee, that the women were “making out” with one another and should be stopped.
Garcia, in response, said the following about the new accusations.
“That’s not true at all. They never said that to us. The entire line they’ve given me is that they recognized we were just embracing and we shouldn’t have been approached in the first place. So that’s interesting that they have never shared that complaint to me in any correspondence. We would never make out in public. We would never do that in public. It was just a quick kiss.”
Billy Bean, the vice president of social responsibility and inclusion for Major League Baseball, also chimed in on the subject.
“Each and every MLB club is governed and managed individually when it comes to their own stadium protocol. Common sense prevails, as the goal of every venue is to ensure an enjoyable game experience for everyone….so they return.”
With LGBT Night at Safeco Field set for August 19, things may want to be resolved sooner rather than later.
Luckily, the couple received a wonderful, humane response from Amy Swisher, senior manager of guest experience.
“I just want to apologize to you. We do have a code of conduct as far as what people are doing in the ballpark, but hugging and embracing is totally fine. And I’m kind of upset with my staff that they made an issue of it. I want you to know that we spoke with [the staff member who reprimanded you], and we’ve coached her on what violates our code of conduct and what doesn’t. She feels bad and I’m just kind of appalled by the whole situation. I’m so sorry for what you guys went through. This is not how we treat people. It goes against our beliefs and the Mariners way, and I am, like I said, very very sorry about it.”
Well, if the Mariners sneak into the postseason as a Wild Card team and have home field advantage, maybe they’ve found two potential people to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
[Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]