August 04, 2009

So What IS Wrong With Two Girls Kissing?

It's not very often I've run across a mention of the Human Rights Campaign in the sports page, but that happened recently when I saw a piece by Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise He writes about how uptight the WNBA, the professional women's basketball league, is of being perceived as condoning, much less promoting, lesbianism.

"Why don't they have a KissCam at Mystics games?" a young friend asked last week, which preceded an awkward pause and an even more awkward answer.

Really, why doesn't the inclusive WNBA franchise in the nation's capital, of all places, send their video cameramen and camerawomen to find unsuspecting couples in the stands during timeouts and capture their mugs for all of Verizon Center's crowd to see? And wait for the couple's reaction, which usually involves a polite, if awkward, peck on the lips.

Just like they do at NBA games and other sporting events in which the participants are men.

"We got a lot of kids here," Sheila Johnson, the Mystics' managing partner, said when asked last week at a game. "We just don't find it appropriate."

Understood is that women's professional basketball has two major fan bases: dads and daughters, and lesbians. The KissCam issue, frivolous on its surface, puts the effort to cater to both audiences squarely at odds.

Devon Goldsmith, returning to her seat for last Thursday's game between Washington and Chicago, understands Johnson's rationale -- begrudgingly.

"It's one thing for Daddy and Mommy to be kissing, but Mommy kissing Mommy?" said Goldsmith, a 26-year-old systems analyst from Silver Spring. She also happens to play linebacker for the D.C. Divas semipro women's football team and is openly gay. "I don't think people are ready for it now.

But how long does a league keep some of its most loyal and longtime customers in the closet? How long should any historically persecuted group keep quiet when the Mystics take sponsorship dollars from a company (Exxon) noted for discrimination against gays?

Can it be true that even in a progressive town like our Nation's Capital, there are still enough people who would freak out at two women kissing to cause a stir? Are we still giving a wink and a nod at a crowd half full of same-sex couples just as long as they don't show any public affection?

Then shame on us.

Click here to read the rest of Mike Wise's column.

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