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Dodgers Don't Kiss This Off

BILL PLASCHKE

Graziano made the right move with apology to lesbian couple after their ejection from stadium.

August 24, 2000|BILL PLASCHKE

Before beginning this story of the seventh-inning smooch, let's get one thing straight.

If the Dodgers wanted to throw somebody out of Dodger Stadium for lewd conduct, it should have been Adrian Beltre and Mark Grudzielanek for that awful eighth inning Sunday.

Of course, that's only baseball, and baseball is once again the least of their problems.

You may have heard by now that Wednesday afternoon, the Dodgers publicly apologized for an Aug. 8 ejection of lesbians Danielle Goldey and Meredith Kott from Dodger Stadium.

They weren't thrown out because they were publicly cursing like the guys behind them.

Or flashing a laser pointer like the guy in front of them.

Or acting drunk and silly like several people around them.

Or imitating the crude off-field behavior of some of the athletes they were cheering.

They were thrown out because they kissed.

It was a French kiss, the women acknowledge, but witnesses say it was nothing blatant or inappropriate.

"The Dodgers were hitting home runs, and everybody was hugging and kissing, and it wasn't a big deal," said Johnny Munoz, a fan who filmed some of the incident.

For two fans, though, it was too much. They complained to a security guard.

They reportedly said they, "didn't want their kids around those kind of people."

The guards caved. They summoned the women from their seats. The crowd booed and cursed the guards.

An incident was brewing, so the guards ordered the women to leave, humiliating them in front of friends and co-workers.

While waiting outside the gates for friends to retrieve their stuff, with fans looking and pointing, the women were so uncomfortable they hid behind a booth.

"Then, of all things, I saw some friends from high school, and I had to explain to them why I was standing outside," recalled Goldey. "It was horrible."

They drove home. A disconsolate Goldey ended the evening locked in her bathroom. It was a bad night.

"I have been a Dodger fan my whole life," said Goldey, 30, the marketing and advertising director for a local software firm. "I remember where I was the night Kirk Gibson hit his home run. I felt like part of the Dodger family. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I was kicked out of the family."

Just as suddenly, the Dodgers fixed it.

Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, a threat that shouldn't have been necessary, they nonetheless did the right thing.

Bob Graziano, in perhaps his most important public act as Dodger president, drove to West Hollywood Wednesday to apologize.

His house is the most diverse, inclusive sporting arena in town. He wants to keep it that way. Good for him.

"We want everybody in this entire city to feel comfortable coming out here, regardless of their ethnicity or gender or socioeconomic background," Graziano said. "We wouldn't have asked a heterosexual couple to leave, but we did with the lesbian couple . . . and that was an error in judgment.

"We want people to be able to come here and feel like they belong here."

The women accepted the apology, charity tickets, undisclosed sum of money and promise of sensitivity training with grace.

"The Dodgers were sorry, they stepped up to the plate and then some," said Goldey. "For Bob Graziano to come out there personally meant a lot to me. I will be going to more Dodger games this year."

Case closed, right?

Not even close.

Anyone who regularly attends sporting events in this town understands that the issue of openly-diverse-lifestyles-in-the-next-row will always be here.

There is nothing more flamboyant, however, than the irony.

Some don't mind sitting next to tattooed guys with shaved heads at Laker games, but are frightened by the quiet lesbian couple at the end of the row at Spark games.

Some who laugh at the obscene chants at a King game will tsk-tsk the gay couple holding hands at the Dodger game.

Many who accuse homosexual couples of lewd behavior at sports events accept that same behavior from heterosexuals.

Certainly, it is inexcusable to behave in a sexually inappropriate manner in public places no matter what the sexual orientation.

A couple of years ago, the Dodgers properly summoned the police to arrest a heterosexual couple for having sex under a blanket during a game.

Equally wrong were the women at a recent Spark game who upset a friend's children by making suggestive remarks about the players.

Danielle Goldey understands.

"If we started disrobing, started feeling each other up, that would be inappropriate," she said. "We knew there were kids around. We know there are things you don't do in public. My mother raised me to know right from wrong."

The bigger issue here is how, at public places such as sporting events, some people paint heterosexual behavior with one brush, and homosexual behavior with another.

A young heterosexual couple holding hands in the front row is cute . . . while that lesbian couple holding hands behind them is lewd.

A quick peck that turns into a kiss after a home run by the older couple in the box seats is sweet . . . while the same act by a lesbian couple is considered raw sex.

These are the views of an immature, narrow-minded society.

Isn't the greatness of Los Angeles based on the notion that we've grown beyond that here?

Hasn't the diversity at our sports venues and the comfort we find there, been the best example of that growth?

Despite our reputation for a lack of passion, we are known for having among the smartest, most sophisticated fans in the country.

Cheering somebody with the morals of Dennis Rodman while fretting over somebody kissing after a home run is not smart.

A couple Dodger Stadium guards made that mistake. They will not make it again. Neither should we.

*

Bill Plaschke can be reached at his e-mail address: bill.plaschke@latimes.com.

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