Kiss Cam usually gets some laughs at arenas and stadiums around the nation, as a camera locks in on a couple in the stands and encourages (shames?) them into lip-lock. But a long-time Jacksonville Jaguars fan noticed something on Kiss Cam that irked him. On Monday, he decided to do something about it.
If you've seen Kiss Cam, you know this trick: After a series of shots of men sitting next to women, Kiss Cam will sometimes frame a pair of players of the opposing team on the bench. Dave Uible, who is gay, saw this gag and didn't think it was funny.
"I think I saw it, maybe two years ago," Uible, 47, said by phone Tuesday. "Then I saw it this year. The thing is they have this section at Jags games for honorable kids. Some are definitely going to be gay. It gives a negative angle. I just don't think it's necessary. It just seems out of place to me."
Uible decided to write Jags owner Shad Khan about Kiss Cam on Monday after reading a story in the New York Times by Judy Battista about scrutiny on the NFL's handling of gay rights issues. Topics mentioned by Battista included the questioning of Manti Te'o about his sexual orientation and the controversy spawned by Chris Culliver's anti-gay comments at the Super Bowl. Uible read the story, wrote the letter, and sent it to Khan and cc'd the NFL. Outsports.com published it Tuesday.
He wrote: "I am gay and I have a lot of gay and lesbian friends who are proud Jaguar season ticket holders. I'm not sure you are aware, but there is a video 'joke' called the Kiss Cam that plays at the games. Often, the bit goes like this: after showing several happy heterosexual couples kissing in the stands, the camera then pans to two opposing male players who are in close proximity and leaning toward each other – insinuating that they may do the exact same (and ostensibly wrong) thing and kiss. Hilarious, right? No, and the message is clear. Jaguars are heterosexual and approved. The opponent is 'gay,' disapproved and the butt of a crude joke. Really, why is this even at an NFL game?"
Good question. We reached out to the Jags for an answer.
"We did receive this letter," replied team spokesman Dan Edwards, "but we don't comment on letters that we receive."
To be clear, Uible is not calling for the end of Kiss Cam, just the end of the "not-too-subtle homophobic joke." And he holds no resentment toward the Jags owner; in fact, he wrote the letter in part because he felt Khan would respond favorably. "I just felt that Mr. Khan was new," Uible said, "and he would do something about it."
Uible said he's never been on Kiss Cam and is too shy to do anything if it ever happened to him. "I'm not a showboat," he said.
The letter is a small example of a larger trend: more comfort speaking out in favour of gay rights. The reaction to Culliver, who said he wouldn't want a gay team-mate, was overwhelming. Resentment of NFL personnel asking Te'o about his sexual orientation was more muted but still notable. And overall, support of gay marriage has risen from 41 per cent in 2004 to 58 per cent now, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Uible, while certainly brave to challenge the most powerful sports league in the nation, is only the latest to make his feelings heard
His fandom, however, is not at stake. Uible renewed his season ticket package and intends to keep going to all the home games. In fact, he has another pet peeve he'd like to address.
"I want people to know [the Jaguars] don't have a terrible attendance record compared to the rest of the nation," he said. "If you look at the rankings in attendance, Miami and Tampa are a lot below us. It kinda bugs me."