Monday, August 3, 2009

WNBA: Still Scared of the Lavendar Menace?

WNBA team Washington Mystics have refused to allow a KissCam. For those not familiar with this bizarre sports-watching practice, the KissCam is a Jumbotron screen that scans the audience in search of couples that the crowd then encourages to kiss.

Responding to why the Mystics do not have this feature at home games, managing partner Sheila Johnson answered: "We got a lot of kids here. We just don't find it appropriate."

Although Mike Wise's Washington Post article does not provide a management quote articulating as much, the unspoken is nonetheless understood:

"...women's professional basketball has two major fan bases: dads and daughters, and lesbians. The KissCam issue, frivolous on its surface, puts the effort to cater to both audiences squarely at odds."

I find at least two issues problematic with respect to this article. One, it clearly pits "dads and daughters" against "lesbians" and presents the two groups as fundamentally opposed to one another.

Two, just as our discriminatory government eagerly takes the tax dollars of LGBT citizens, lesbian money is green enough for the WNBA. Indeed, that the WNBA has so many lesbians fans is one major reason that the league still exists. The WNBA takes money from lesbians while simultaneously enabling heterosexism. Back in May 2008, for instance, I wrote of the WNBA's new player orientation which includes the so very important topic of make-up application. Within my previous article, I quoted a sports psychologist who summed it up:

"No. 1 is, of course, the need for the image of WNBA players to be seen as real women. That comes from the lesbian homophobia that surrounds women in sports in general."

I know that the WNBA league wants to survive financially and that it is a business. Yet, as someone who has participated in sports my entire life I have experienced how athletics is one way to experience courage, inspiration, and grace. Unfortunately, the WNBA's shame with respect to one of its most important fan bases displays none of these traits. That, to me, is what is perhaps most sad about its complicity in homophobia.

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