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Gay activists ask Cardinals for more inclusive Kiss Cam focus

Thursday, September 16, 2010 | 11:41 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The between-innings "Kiss Cam" is a popular feature at Busch Stadium and other ballparks — the video board showing a couple, then waiting for a smooch. Now, gay activists in St. Louis are urging the Cardinals to show same-sex couples kissing their partners, too.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that at least 200 gays and lesbians will be at Busch Stadium on Saturday as part of an "Out at the Ballpark" promotion organized by the nonprofit group St. Louis Pride.

The request to the Cardinals was spurred by a Kiss Cam incident at Sunday's St. Louis Rams game. The camera zeroed in on two men dressed in jerseys of the opposing team, the Arizona Cardinals. The crowd laughed, then booed when the men tried to shoo away the camera.

Gays found it offensive, including many who were talking about it at Just John's, a St. Louis gay bar, manager Harrison Roberts said.

"They all had the same reaction. They were embarrassed, and felt a little degraded," said Roberts, who will be among those at Saturday's game and who is leading the effort to get the Busch Stadium Kiss Cam to focus on gay couples.

The Cardinals say they'll make no promises.

"Our stance is, we'll put you on the request list, no guarantees," said Tony Simokaitis, director of scoreboard operations. "We look for lively areas, full areas where people are in their seats, watching the video board, somewhat paying attention. We try to get as many people in as we can in the minute and a half between innings. There's not a lot of time to allow us to make calculated judgments in terms of demographics."

Last year, the WNBA's Washington Mystics' managing partner said she found the Kiss Cam inappropriate at a place where children gather. Gay groups said the decision was made because the crowds at women's basketball games include a large number of lesbians.

Cardinals spokesman Chris Tunno said it is the awkward moments that the Cardinals worry about.

"Do you pick a guy and a girl? And what if you pick someone who is not together? And two guys and two girls? Same thing. You'd be in a total mess," he said.

Ethan Barnett, director of athletics for Pride St. Louis, said the Kiss Cam incident "coincides perfectly" with the Pride St. Louis ballpark trip by bringing awareness to the group and its primary cause: Raising awareness of gay rights issues.


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