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At sporting venues across North America, men and women instinctively know to pucker up when the kiss cam catches them in the crowd, but what about the gay sports fan?

According to a new Slate piece, the eponymous kiss cam, which focuses on two random people in a sports-stadium crowd and implores them to smooch for the camera, is a blatantly homophobic practice that excludes gay people.

The article's author, Mark Joseph Stern, bemoans the current dearth of same-sex kissing at Nationals Park in Washington, home of major league baseball's Washington Nationals.

The ballpark has two nights designated specifically for gay fans and even had an openly lesbian U.S. Senator throw out the first pitch at a recent game. But does the kiss-cam operator ever swing the camera toward two people of the same gender? So far it hasn't happened.

In Stern's view, those arguing in favour of only straight interaction on the kiss cam fall into two camps.

The most common argument against gay kiss cam action is that the camera operators can't possibly distinguish between gay couples and same-sex pals. Obviously, the camera person can't know the nature of two people's relationship, but it's their job to monitor the crowd for obvious hints of affection between a couple.

And even if they do briefly put the spotlight on two people who aren't romantically involved, is it really the end of the world? More likely, it would give two dudes (or dudettes) a good story to tell their co-workers the next day.

Somehow even more antiquated is the attitude of many straight kiss-cam defenders who argue that the kiss-cam concept, which has been around since the early eighties, is potentially harmful to impressionable young minds.

Incredible as it sounds, some sports franchises have actually banned the kiss cam for that very reason. Back in 2009, Sheila Johnson, managing partner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, was asked why there was no kiss cam at home games.

Johnson's response: "We got a lot of kids here. We just don't find it appropriate." (The Mystics, for the record, have a substantial lesbian following.)

To date, the only occasions when people of the same sex have made it to the kiss cam have occurred when the operator jokingly focuses on two male players on the visiting team, thereby suggesting two straight men do something unpleasant, like kiss each other. The now-fading practice is a chilling example of furthering gay panic.

Meanwhile, there are fewer gay characters than ever on television and Russia's new anti-gay law prohibiting homosexuality has already cast a pall over the upcoming Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

But in regard to the kiss-cam conundrum, there's a simple choice: Kill the tradition altogether or start featuring people of the same sex kissing. At this point, including gay couples in the fun is simply the sporting thing to do.

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