We've long decried the use of "kiss cams" at sporting events that try and bait two guys on camera into kissing, often showing two players of the visiting team in close proximity. The objections were best put by Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who last year called it "cheap shitty comedy" that's "offensive to gay males."
Now, an openly gay fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars has called on the team's owner, Shahid Khan, to stop the practice. Dave Uible sent this letter to Khan, who became owner of the team last year:
Dear Mr. Khan:
I would like to voice my concern about the 'Kiss Cam' at the home Jaguar games.
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?
From what I understand, the NFL is now making strides to prevent bullying and homophobia. Mr. Khan, I’m sure you have felt your share of being an ‘other’ in this world and know how offensive it can be. We all go to the games simply to enjoy ourselves and root for our team. Obviously, it’s disheartening to be reminded, by the NFL, that you really aren’t quite as equal as the other season ticket holders. If this were a ‘Muslim Cam’ or a ‘Black Cam’, I'm sure the franchise would have gotten rid of it long ago. It’s time for this not-too-subtle homophobic joke to go too.
I am very excited that you are now a part of our city and hope you can help make it--in any way possible--a safer and more welcoming place for all of us. As you know, of the 70 largest cities in this country, Jacksonville is one of only two that still does not ensure equal rights for its gay citizens in employment, housing and accomodation. Surely now that you are at the helm we can ‘stand united’ and all move forward. Maybe our backwards city leaders will even follow your lead.
Thank you for looking into this. Here’s to winning lots of games next year!
Roger Goodell, NFL Commisioner
Robert Gulliver, NFL Human Resources
Troy Vincent, NFL Senior VP Player Engagement
Domonique Foxworth, President NFL Players Union
Alvin Brown, Mayor of Jacksonville
Bill Bishop, President Jacksonville City Council
Uible told Outsports that he has been a season-ticket holder for four years and was moved to send the letter after reading a New York Times article about gays in the NFL. Uible said that, "thankfully, the gay joke doesn't get much reaction from the Jaguar fans from what I've noticed."
He is aware that the kiss cam is not the most offensive thing in the world but needs to go. "In the grand scheme of things, this bit hasn't bothered me enormously (at least compared to last season's losing record), but I do think it's unnecessary and I'm hoping Mr. Khan will just end it since he is new on the scene and seems like a stand up guy. The Kiss Cam on its own is perfectly fine, but why insult people at all at the games?"
I agree with Uible and McCarthy that the kiss cam has long outlived been novel or creative and the "let's see if two dudes will kiss" routine is lame. The Jaguars have long struggled to sell out their home games and often cover large swaths of the stands to avoid TV blackouts. They need all the season-ticket holders that they can get, so here's hoping Shad takes Uible's letter seriously.
(Update: As several fans have pointed out top me, the Jags have not had a blackout since the 2009 season.)