Dear San Diego Gay Men’s Choir: Yes, Disappointments And Screw-Ups Are Annoying, But They All Aren’t Part Of A Conspiracy Against You, And You Make Your Cause And Yourself Look Foolish By Being So Eager To Play The Victim Card


Allow me to elaborate, guys.

Let’s take your recent unfortunate experience at the San Diego Padres game last night No doubt about it, somebody, probably lost of people, messed up big time.

Before the Dodgers-Padres game at Petco Park, a hundred singers from your San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus  assembled on the field  to sing the National Anthem. Then, just as you were getting ready to sing, and very well, too, if the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. , which I have heard sing many times, are any indication, somebody put on a recorded version  a woman singing it instead. Was it  Lady Gaga? I hope so; that was great.   I guarantee it wasn’t a recording of Rosanne Barr wrecking the song at a Padres game in 1990, but if you want to put what happened to you in perspective and haven’t heard it, here it is. Okay, I’m ready: I have my eyes closed and my fingers are on my ears:

But I digress.  Here you all were, out on the field, ready to sing and entertain the fans, and you are suddenly listening to a recording over the loudspeakers.Nobody stopped it,  no announcement, explanation or apology followed it. You all had to just stand in center field feeling and looking awkward until the song finished, the crowd cheered, and  they escorted you off the field.

That really bites. I remember the time that a performing group I ran and performed with was signed to sing on a dinner cruise down the Potomac, and the organizers never prepared a proper performing area or had the passengers, who wanted to drink and party, prepared to listen to Gilbert and Sullivan songs. It was horrible, believe me. I ended the performance mid-song, because the audience was getting hostile. I’ve never been so humiliated in my life: I would have prayed for a recording of  Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem to come on. I would have prayed for a recording of  Roseanne singing the National Anthem to come on.

Unfortunately for us, we were just a group of middle-aged white, mostly heterosexual singers, so we couldn’t get headlines by crying discrimination and bias and making ourselves martyrs by unfairly accusing someone of malice–like you did to the Padres.

Ah, but you rushed to play the victim card, specifically the very popular and effective “victim of homophobia card,” because you could, with the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus issuing a J’Accuse! public statement huffily claiming that the incident raises “serious questions about homophobia.” No, guys, it really doesn’t. It raises no issues about homophobia at all, any more than my experience on board the cursed ship “Dandy” suggested that Gilbert and Sullivan performers were the objects of hate from the graduating class of the commuter college that hired us. In fact, it is probably the least plausible explanation for the snafu imaginable. Why would the Padres invite the Gay Men’s Chorus to perform at all if it was determined to be mean to you because of your sexual orientation? Why would it seek to make the ball club look incompetent? Given the current tendency of any minority group today to scream “Bias! Hate! Microaggression!” any time someone looks at them cross eyed because they can get attention, sympathy, and interviews on MSNBC, why would the Padres, out of the blue, think of doing such a stupid, self-destructive thing, all while lousing up the National Anthem at a Padres game AGAIN?

They wouldn’t. See, and I know that you’ve never done this, because Heaven knows gay singers are perfect, but sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes just happen to be especially unpleasant for blacks, Muslims, Jews, women, seniors, the disabled, and LGBT citizens who have victim cards in their holsters, ready to draw, but if these unintentional victims are capable of empathy, proportion, common sense and fairness, they have the mutual respect for those not in their increasingly insular, easily aggrieved and self-righteous to apply the Golden Rule, be gracious, and not blow everything completely out of proportion.

Like you just did.

Oh, you’ll get some grovelling, I’m sure. The Padres have apologized, saying,

“This evening, during the pregame ceremony, a mistake was made in the Petco Park control room that prevented the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus from performing the National Anthem as scheduled. We apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended, and have reached out to the Chorus to express our deep regret for the error.”

In this case, the non-apology apology language “we apologize to anyone who was offended” language is appropriate. There was nothing to be offended about. It was a screw-up. Was anyone offended when Obama said there were 57 states? Was anyone offended when the minister at the wedding of one of my best friends started reading the funeral service instead? No, because these were mistakes, obvious, genuine mistakes.

The team also , quite correctly, noted that it was obviously a mistake, and no malice was intended. The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus has performed the anthem at Petco before without incident. The Padres routinely offer events oriented toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender including “Pride Nights” such as the one offered Saturday, and “Out at the Park.”

But it feels so good to play the victim, right, guys? John Brown, executive director of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, which promotes civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said he wondered if the incident was a prank, rather than an accident, and said it reflects poorly on the team.

You really wonder that, John? Then you’re an idiot. If I gave to your organization, I’d stop.

“This is a time when the Padres are really looking to build community support,” Brown said. “They’ve got to understand that the LGBT community is large in San Diego, it is supported by our community’s leaders, and the majority of people who live here. This kind of thing isn’t acceptable at all.”

You know what isn’t acceptable, John? Gay men going out of their way to behave like the worst stereotypes of gay men. This is silly drama queen stuff.  The Chorus statement said that “some fans”  said things like “you sing like a girl.” So what does this mean, that the Padres scripted stupid things for some fans to yell, because we all know baseball fans don’t yell stupid things all the time, every game, all game long?

You are humiliating yourself far more with this tantrum than when you were prevented from singing. Be adults. Everyone’s sorry. It wasn’t intentional. Cut this out. You are making it more difficult for victims of genuine discrimination against LGTB people to have their complaints taken seriously.

Apparently, some members of your  chorus are calling for an investigation by the team, the city of San Diego and by Major League Baseball. Are you serious?  What do you want, some low level employee with the park to be fired? Would that soothe  your widdle hurt feelings?

You are performers. Crap like this happens to performers all the time. Those who are mature and reasonable professionals accept it as part of the craft. Well, the ones who don’t get off on playing their victim cards, anyway.

If I were head of the Padres, I would announce that until the team receives a gracious apology from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus for its insulting and unwarranted accusations, there will be no more invitations to sing at Petco Park. Your conduct doesn’t unite the community, it is part of what divides it, a sad eagerness to interpret every action as hostile, and to not give the benefit of the doubt to those not in your tight little group, who are human beings too.

Shame on you all.

Here’s Lady Gaga:


12 thoughts on “Dear San Diego Gay Men’s Choir: Yes, Disappointments And Screw-Ups Are Annoying, But They All Aren’t Part Of A Conspiracy Against You, And You Make Your Cause And Yourself Look Foolish By Being So Eager To Play The Victim Card

  1. I didn’t hear Lady Gaga’s rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl but it is magnificent. I think that the Gay Man’s Chorus should quit whining about what was obviously a mistake and stop acting like jerks.

  2. I feel a tad mean spirited, so I’ll say this was about intentional as the team getting no-hit twice by Lincecum; just a classic case of Padresing, no harm intended.

  3. Jack – there wouldn’t have been the suspicion, given that they’ve performed before, if the Padre management hadn’t fought tooth and nail to make them pay for tickets this time. Unlike times past.

    Something had changed in the meantime, and the management didn’t take the flat refusal on the part of the choir to pay very kindly.

    When you signed up to perform on a Potomac cruise – did you have to buy tickets?

    If so, then perhaps you should consider whether you were “had”.

    There are a million things that can go wrong in any production – the wonder is that so few do. Had there been no Bad Blood beforehand, any suspicion of deliberate malice would be laughable, the chance so small it would be negligible.

    As it is, on the balance of probabilities, still likely only a blunder. But the case isn’t as cut and dried as it would be otherwise. I’m sure you know of many ways where stagehands or lighting and sound technicians can express their displeasure at an obnoxious Diva, without anything being provable, You might even have seen it yourself, no? Unprofessional – but all too human.

    • I didn’t mention the ticket dispute because it’s too silly to mention. I once directed a show for a charity and killed myself doing it. Directors monitor show over a production, and I was directing gratis, but these jerks wanted me to pay for my seats every night. It was a big nasty fight, but I won. Of course the Pads were being jerks, but this is the kind of jerkism theaters and stadia engage in. It has nothing to do with ethnicity or sexual orientation.

      I’d be shocked if the tech responsible for the recording snafu even knew about the ticket dispute. You say “As it is, on the balance of probabilities, still likely only a blunder.” Likely doesn’t do it justice. A community institution like the Padres in a community like San Diego would be certifiably insane to intentionally pick a PR battle with the LGBT community–its’ bad business, it is bad publicity, it’s petty, it’s wrong, and baseball fans don’t want these distractions. If anyone does you harm, and the facts and circumstances make it likely that it’s a mistake, then the ethical thing—Golden Rule—is to give the benefit of the doubt.

      The Chorus did exactly the opposite.

      This was a gotcha attempt, and a lame one, and I don’t think it can be spun as anything else.

    • If anything, the ticket dispute just confirms it wasn’t related to sexual orientation and was simply retaliation to their refusal to pay them money.

      • It wasn’t retaliation and it wasn’t intentional. The PR mess caused by such a botch dwarfs any extra ticket money. Businesses, and especially ball clubs, don’t behave that way, and it’s naive to think so.

        • The “If anything” that led my comment was of major significance to the rest of my comment. Of course it was unintentional.

          Essentially, if we go with the assumption that the snub was intentional, zoebrain’s evidence does not point to what she seems to think it does.

          • I agree. That whole line of reasoning, which is throughout the news media accounts, makes no sense at all. Such quibbling about tangential issues is not unusual–again, the group is being naive (Other performers at Petco have said that the Padres also tried to get them to buy tickets. It looks like the cheap Padres see if they can pressure performers to pay, and if not, fine.

            The leap from, “Damn, we couldn’t talk the choir into buying seats” and “Let’s get even with those queers by embarrassing them and us, and setting ourselves up for bad publicity and attacks by LGBT grievance warriors, undermining teh community relations that we’ve been building up for years!” is huge and unlikely.

  4. S!!t happens and with the Pads it is usually a lot of s!!t that happens. Looking for a problem where none exists wins no support. The real “problem” is the “fans” that made negative comments – but did they?

    And for Jack. I flushed the urinals at PetCo. Back when the park was being opened hundreds of us in the general area of the Gaslight District and the waterfront were invited to the park to flush toilets and urinals to test the system. Forget no-hitters I have seen and other great baseball experiences – this is the tops!

  5. I don’t know if you saw this, but the Padres did in fact “terminate [their] relationship” with the third party contractor who was handling it, and taken “disciplinary action” against the employee who apparently is responsible.

    As a Padres fan, it’s rare I get to see my team in the national news when they aren’t either getting no-hit or writing itself into the history books for the most times getting shut out in a short period. Unfortunately, this isn’t all that much better.

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