Thanks to One Fan, Mets’ Stadium Is No Place for Gay 'Kiss Cam' Jokes
Along with grabbing a hot dog and rooting for the home team, couples attending Major League Baseball games better be prepared to pucker up in case the stadium’s cameras find them during the popular "Kiss Cam" segment.
It’s meant to be a lighthearted break from the game, but some fans of the New York Mets weren’t too pleased when the "Kiss Cam" took what they felt was a homophobic turn, featuring two players from the opposite team in a heart on the Jumbotron at Citi Field.
After months of complaints from fans, the team issued a statement this week announcing its commitment to ending the gag.
“We have, on occasion, included players from opposing teams in our popular in-game Kiss Cam feature,” the organization wrote in a statement to HuffPost Live. “While intended to be lighthearted, we unintentionally offended some. We apologize for doing so and no longer will include players in the feature. Our organization is wholly supportive of fostering an inclusive and respectful environment at games.”
The Mets’ decision is thanks in large part to longtime fan Etan Bednarsh. He first noticed the joke in April, when the team focused in on two Phillies players, and has been cataloging the gag ever since, tweeting and emailing the team repeatedly.
.@Mets Putting two men together on the kiss cam isn't a punch line. I want to keep coming to games. Please stop doing this.— Etan Bednarsh (@EBednarsh) April 15, 2015
“The only joke is ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if two male athletes were gay?’ And it’s not a joke, and it’s not funny,” Bednarsh told HuffPost Live. In all his time at games, he has never seen a same-sex couple featured on the Jumbotron in a sincere way and fears that instances of homophobia like this could be part of what keeps gay athletes and fans off the field and out of the stands. In a 2015 study on homophobia in sports, 84 percent of respondents said gay jokes or slurs were common at sporting events. Only 1 percent felt that LGBT people are completely accepted in sports.
Bednarsh thinks the Mets’ decision to end the joke is a good first step in making the games a welcoming place for all, and he hopes the organization will continue its commitment of inclusiveness by featuring same-sex smooches.