On Saturday night before a San Diego Padres game, a local chorus was set to sing the national anthem at Petco Park. Although the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus had been invited to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” someone seemed to have an issue with the choice at the last minute. As the men began the song, their voices were replaced with a recording of a woman singing the anthem instead.
To make matters worse, Saturday night’s game was billed as “Pride Night” and meant to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Padres fans. Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, told “The San Diego Union-Tribune” that his initial reaction was disbelief:
‘I really want to believe that it was an error. But the first thought was, did they do this on purpose?’
The Padres issued the following statement on Saturday night:
‘After a thorough examination of the events that occurred during last night’s National Anthem, we have concluded our internal investigation and have found no evidence of malicious intent on the part of any individuals involved. Based both on the unintentional mistake that was made, as well as the failure to immediately intervene and correct the situation by those who had oversight, we have terminated our relationship with the third-party contractor who was responsible for the error, and taken disciplinary action against our employee who was responsible for the game production on Saturday.’
Something about the Padres’ response doesn’t quite add up, and Lehman, who was far from satisfied with it, issued the following official statement on the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Facebook page Sunday morning:
‘What should have been a night of joy and celebration at Petco Park last night, instead turned into a nightmare raising serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community.
‘Before the start of the last night’s San Diego Padres game, 100 volunteer singers of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus took to the field to proudly sing the National Anthem. Instead, in front of the large crowd gathered for the LA Dodgers game, the San Diego Padres played the recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem.
‘No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song’s duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts including “You sing like a girl.” ‘
Lehman’s statement also describes “troubling behavior and incidents” leading up to Saturday night’s game. It’s a disgrace to see this sort of thing happen and even more so on a night meant to be open and inclusive. This incident is only further evidence of how far our country still has to go to achieve actual equality rather than just paying lip service to it.
Featured Image via Facebook screengrab.