Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gay Public Kiss Versus Straight Public Kiss in Seattle

Interesting . . . I don't know how to respond to this without getting political, but should there be one rule for gay and one rule for straight as regards public displays of affection in the United States of America? I am told that the camera at Mariners' games regularly pans on a kissing couple, but up to this point that couple has always been heterosexual.

There's another gay-themed topic I'm googling. The openly gay boxer Emile Griffith I think has come out with a new book. Let me see if I can find something about it on the web.

Preston


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Originally posted at
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110ap_lesbian_kiss.html

Lesbian kiss at Seattle ballpark stirs debate
By MANUEL VALDES ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER


SEATTLE -- Most of the time, a kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention when fans smooch.

But then last week, a lesbian complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her to stop kissing her date because it was making another fan uncomfortable.

The incident has exploded on local TV, on talk radio and in the blogosphere and has touched off a debate over public displays of affection in generally gay-friendly Seattle.

"Certain individuals have not yet caught up. Those people see a gay or lesbian couple and they stare or say something," said Josh Friedes of Equal Rights Washington. "This is one of the challenges of being gay. Everyday things can become sources of trauma."

As the Mariners played the Boston Red Sox on May 26, Sirbrina Guerrero and her date were approached in the third inning by an usher who told them their kissing was inappropriate, Guerrero said.

The usher, Guerrero said, told them he had received a complaint from a woman nearby who said that there were kids in the crowd of nearly 36,000 and that parents would have to explain why two women were kissing.

"I was really just shocked," Guerrero said. "Seattle is so gay-friendly. There was a couple like seven rows ahead making out. We were just showing affection."

On Thursday, after an internal investigation, the Mariners said in a news release that their seating staff had acted appropriately, and the couple was approached because of their behavior - which included "making out" and "groping" in the stands - and not their sexual orientation.

"We have a strict nondiscrimination policy at the Seattle Mariners and at Safeco Field, and when we do enforce the code of conduct it is based on behavior, not on the identity of those involved," Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said earlier this week.

In the release, the Mariners said the women were told they could continue to kiss, but that they had to "tone it down."

"The women refused to modify their behavior, began swearing at the seating hosts and complained that they were being singled out for their sexual orientation," the club said.

The code of conduct - announced before each game - specifically mentions public displays of affection that are "not appropriate in a public, family setting." Hale said those standards are based on what a "reasonable person" would find inappropriate.

Guerrero denied she and her date were groping each other, saying that along with eating garlic fries, they were giving each other brief kisses.

On Tuesday, Guerrero said a Mariners director of guest services had apologized to her. The team spokeswoman could not immediately confirm that.

After the story broke, the Mariners were blasted by the sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, who wrote about the incident on the blog of the Stranger, an alternative weekly paper.

"They go out of their way to say it's a quote-unquote family setting," Savage said. "As a gay season-ticket holder, we've never been quite sure what that means exactly. I constantly see people making out. My son has noticed and asked, `Do they show the ballgame on women's foreheads?'"

Savage called for a "kiss-in" to protest against the Mariners.

Web sites have been swamped with blog postings for and against Guerrero and her date. And the story has people talking in Seattle.

"I would be uncomfortable" seeing public displays of affection between lesbians or gay men, said Jim Ridneour, a 54-year-old taxi driver. "I don't think it's right seeing women kissing in public. If I had my family there, I'd have to explain what's going on."

"It all depends on the degree," Mark Ackerman said as he waited for a hot dog outside Safeco Field before Wednesday's game. "Even for heterosexual couples."

Since the incident, Guerrero's job and her past have come under scrutiny. She works at a bar known for scantily clad women and was a contestant on the MTV reality show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila," in which women and men compete for the affection of a bisexual Internet celebrity.

"People are saying it's 15 more minutes for my career," Guerrero said of the ballpark furor, "but this is not making me look very good."

In 2007, an Oregon transit agency chief apologized after a lesbian teenager was kicked off a bus when a passenger complained about her kissing another girl.

Also in 2007, a gay rights group protested a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant they said ejected four women because two of them kissed, and a Texas state trooper was placed on probation in 2004 for telling two gay men who were kissing at the state Capitol that homosexual conduct was illegal in Texas.

"There's a double standard. That's the bottom line," said Pat Griffin, director of the It Takes a Team! Education Campaign, an initiative from the Women's Sports Foundation to eliminate homophobia in sports.
---

On the Net:

Seattle Mariners: http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com

Equal Rights Washington: http://www.equalrightswashington.org

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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.