Why we’re covering this: Despite the passage of nationwide marriage equality, LGBT people still get treated like second-class citizens, even when they’re guests of honor. The sports world especially has deeply rooted homophobia. Covering incidents like this is part of chipping away at that homophobia while holding organizations accountable for their poor treatment of LGBT folks.
On Harvey Milk Day (Sunday, May 22), the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus (SDGMC) went to sing the national anthem at the San Diego Padres’ Out At The Park night at Petco Park. But instead of letting the 100-member gay chorus members sing our jingoist war anthem, the park played pre-recorded audio of a woman singing the “Star Spangled Banner” instead while the men awkwardly stood there in front of over 40,000 people. Later, as the chorus embarrassedly left the field, some fans screamed “You sing like a girl” at them — fun!
You can watch their humiliation below. The person singing on the tape is pretty good, but it’s probably not a gay man, because if it was the stadium would have played another recording over it and made the recording walk out while fans shouted jeers at it.
Even better, the Padres apparently tried to require the Chorus to buy tickets to the game before they’d allowed them the privilege of being humiliated on-field; tickets that would have cost the non-profit Chorus thousands of dollars. After repeated complaints by the SDGMC, the Padres dropped the requirement.
After their public mocking, the Padres released a two-sentence explanation calling the entire thing “a mistake”, apologizing to “anyone… who may have been offended” and expressing “deep regret” to the choir.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 22, 2016
SDGMC Executive Director Bob Lehman said that even though his group bought $360 worth of tickets, none of the members stuck around to watch the game. He and other members also threw away the “Official Pride Night Rally Towels” that they’d been given as gifts, adding that no one from the Padres did anything to make them feel as if the recording had been played by accident.
The Chorus later said that the San Diego Padres President and Chief Executive Office Mike Dee did reach out to them to apologize and meet to discuss the incident.
The Padres eventually took full responsibility for the Chorus’ shitty treatment, conducted an investigation, determined “no malicious intent” but still “terminated their relationship” with the third-party contractor and took “disciplinary action” with the employee responsible for the shit-show.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 23, 2016
The Padres also say that they have offered the Chorus the chance of singing again. We say if the Padres should donate some money from Out at the Park to the SDGMC and then invite them to sing on a non-gay ghetto night.
Interestingly, the San Diego Padres never made an “It Gets Better” video telling LGBT teens not to kill themselves back when that was a thing. Perhaps they should make one of those too.