Last night, before the Dodgers-Padres game at Petco Park, 100 singers from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus were assembled on the field in order to sing the National Anthem. They never got the chance, however, because as they prepared to sing the song, a recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem came over the loudspeakers and that version of the song was played instead.
According to the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Facebook post on the incident, no effort was made to stop the recording or to start over and no announcement or apology was made explaining what happened. Rather, the singers stood in center field for the song and then were escorted off the field. The post says that the singers were heckled by some fans in the stands who said things like “you sing like a girl.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus characterizes the incident as one which raises “serious questions about homophobia” and followed “several days of troubling comments and behavior within the San Diego Padres organization” leading up to the game. Specifically, they say that “Padres representatives aggressively sought to prevent singers from performing the National Anthem” unless members of the chorus purchased tickets to the game even if they performed and even if they weren’t staying for the game. That demand was rescinded. It’s worth noting that the Gay Men’s Chorus has performed at Petco before Padres games in the past with no incident. The Gay Men’s Chorus has asked for an investigation into what occurred last night.
For their part, the Padres issued a statement on its Twitter account last night:
The Gay Men’s Chorus acknowledges that Mike Dee, President of the Padres, reached out afterward, apologized and offered to meet with the Chorus, which they welcome. It’s clear, however, that the Chorus is still displeased about the incident.
The most likely explanation here is a mixup in the control room, as the statement said, and someone playing an automated Anthem, unaware that a chorus was assembled. Still, it was an unfortunate incident and the optics of it were poor. Here’s hoping some more formal overtures than a Twitter apology take place and that the Chorus is given more respectful treatment at another game at a later date.