Safeco Field usher reprimands lesbian couple for public display of affection


File this under “well, it was certainly handled better than it might’ve been a few years ago” but make sure you file a duplicate under “yet, the fact that this still happens says a lot about some folks’ feelings about gay people.”

Outsports reports that, last Friday, at the Angles-Mariners game, a lesbian couple was issued a reprimand by a Safeco Field usher — basically, they were informed, in writing, of a complaint by other fans — for a public display of affection. Hugging and kissing. Nothing unusual and nothing extreme.  They were nonetheless told that they needed to stop because their behavior was inappropriate in a “public, family setting.” Clearly, someone was icked-out because a same-sex couple was doing the same thing opposite sex couples do all the time.

The couple then went to guest services to object to the reprimand. To the Mariners’ credit, they immediately apologized, rescinded the reprimand (for whatever the reprimand was worth in the first place) and that was followed up by a heartfelt message from a Mariners manager on Monday, again apologizing and then offering to invite then back to a future game for a better Mariners game experience. Outsports has a transcript of the message left by the Mariners employee, which unlike so many other apologies from businesses, was thoughtful and human [Hold that thought: see the update below].

We live in a way more more enlightened and accepting society when it comes to such matters now than we ever have, but the fact that some people would lodge a formal complaint over gay people doing the exact thing straight people do all the dang time at a ballpark — and that a stadium employee would endorse the complaint formally like this usher did — speaks to just how far we still have to go.

Kudos, however, to the Mariners for immediately and positively responding.

UPDATE: Wait, let’s retract the kudos. It seems the Mariners walked back the apology and retreated to the position that the couple acted inappropriately:

Despite the overt apology by Swisher, and her absolving the couple of any wrongdoing in the voicemail, on Tuesday Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale spun a completely different story about what triggered the incident on Friday, telling Outsports that, according to reports, the couple acted inappropriately.

Hale said the usher received two complaints — one of them from a fellow Safeco Field staff member — that the two lesbians were “making out” with one another and should be stopped. Plus, despite Swisher telling the couple that the usher regretted the encounter, Hale told Outsports that the usher’s own written statement maintained that the couple was “making out” and that the usher “felt it was not appropriate for the public setting.”

When asked about Swisher contacting the lesbian couple and apologizing, Hale dismissed the outreach as protocol.

My fault for the first version of this story that left that out. It was just careless on my part. I got to the part where the employee left the apologetic message, felt like it was at a resolution, and then did a bad skim down beyond it, missing a paragraph or two because a quick scan made me think it was all just the later historical backfill. Apologies.