SEATTLE (AP) - Most of the time, a kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention when fans smooch.
But then last week, a lesbian complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her to stop kissing her date because it was making another fan uncomfortable.
The incident has exploded on local TV, on talk radio and in the blogosphere and has touched off a debate over public displays of affection in generally gay-friendly Seattle.
"Certain individuals have not yet caught up. Those people see a gay or lesbian couple and they stare or say something," said Josh Friedes of Equal Rights Washington. "This is one of the challenges of being gay. Everyday things can become sources of trauma." [...]
On Thursday, after an internal investigation, the Mariners said in a news release that their seating staff had acted appropriately, and the couple was approached because of their behavior—which included "making out" and "groping" in the stands—and not their sexual orientation.
There's a lot of debate about whether or not the lesbians were merely kissing or doing something more; there's the usual outcry from the gay community which sees anything less than the total embrace and encouragement of all forms of gay behavior as somehow bigoted. But the sanest quote in the article, to me, was this one:
"I would be uncomfortable" seeing public displays of affection between lesbians or gay men, said Jim Ridneour, a 54-year-old taxi driver. "I don't think it's right seeing women kissing in public. If I had my family there, I'd have to explain what's going on."Gay rights activists are inclined to scream over quotes such as the one above, and make endlessly stupid comparisons involving people's discomfort with mixed-race couples a generation ago. What they tend to forget, though, is that while prohibitions against mixed-race marriages went against human history and, especially, the history of marriage, and were confined to a few cultures of which our own was sadly one, prohibitions against same-sex couples (not "marriages;" nobody until virtually yesterday would ever have supported such a depraved notion) have been widespread throughout human history, and have been founded on such basic concepts as the importance of reproduction, the need to preserve the family structure, and avoiding the general decadence that accompanies the tearing-down of cultural taboos against profligate and degraded forms of sexual perversion, which by nearly every culture's definitions included homosexual activity.
Now, some people would say that nobody should be engaging in noticeable or egregious public displays of affection, regardless of sexual proclivities, and to a certain extent they're correct. A little hand-holding or a quick smooch is one thing, but I've had the experience of having to move my children to a different grocery-store line because the man in front of us couldn't keep his hands out of his wife's back pockets; truly, people have no idea what's appropriate in public any more.
But the decline in general manners aside, the taxi-driver quoted above has gotten to the heart of matters in a way that is admirable in its simplicity. If a small child sees a man and a woman kissing in public, he will likely relate this behavior to the sort of kiss his mother gives his father when his father leaves for work, or some such thing (provided we're talking about a simple kiss, of course, and not one of those egregious displays I mentioned above). Likewise, a man holding a woman's hand, or a woman snuggling under a man's arm, is going to be recognizable behavior to a young child.
However, aside from the handful of children actually being raised by gay couples, children aren't in the habit of seeing two women or two men engage in such intimacies in public, and the witnessing of these things is going to produce questions, questions which quite frankly should not have to be answered. Children don't deserve to have perversion shoved into their faces, and parents shouldn't have to field these questions from the precocious set.
There was a time when all adults, whatever their private beliefs, behaviors, or appetites, maintained a G-rated facade in front of the innocent. But our culture has become infected with the notion that if someone doesn't like "X" behavior, then it's the obligation of that person to look away from it, not the obligation of the person engaging in the unduly provocative or obnoxious behavior to be mindful of the public eye. This puts an unnecessarily heavy burden on parents, who instead of being able to trust society to aid them in the job of parenting must now view society as a hostile entity, which carries within it so many strains of disease which target the innocent for destruction that the parents can never relax their vigilance, but must instead think of every public venue as another potential attack on the innocence of their children.
Sadly, we've all but become accustomed to this, hissing "Don't look!" at our kids when we pass the magazine rack at the grocery store, resigning ourselves to a very limited selection of radio stations when the kids are in the car (or bringing CDs of kiddie music for longer trips), limiting or doing away with television altogether, avoiding movie theaters if the posters or previews are liable to feature scantily-clad women or four-letter words, and on and on. But the cultural infection keeps spreading and mutating past our efforts to inoculate against it, and the next thing we'll have to start doing is avoiding those places where same-sex couples are likely to engage in some public acts of perversion in full view not only of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, but of all the little Publics, too. And that will only work for so long, before openly gay advertisements and openly gay magazine covers and even openly gay toys (perhaps a same-sex couple doll house family) start maneuvering themselves into our children's line of sight.
The cultural infection which festers in our sick society is going to continue to grow and spread; public displays of this infection are going to increase in their prevalence. And those of us who object, like Mr. Jim Ridneour, are going to be told that the problem is all ours, that there is no such thing as moral or immoral, normal or abnormal, healthy or perverted; because the first thing this virus does is to convince the organism it infects that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.