The Leafs managed to put in a pretty impressive performance on the road against the Pacific division-leading L.A. Kings last Thursday, but it was a moment off the ice that provided the evening’s most memorable moment.
That moment was the NHL’s first gay kiss cam smooch, courtesy of partners Andy Evans and Brad Parr. The crowd reacted very positively:
Progress! Hear the cheers for the first gay kiss on Kiss Cam. A first in NHL history. LA Kings vs Maple Leafs Game. pic.twitter.com/ngEJnqqqif
— My Daughter’s Army (@mydaughtersarmy) January 9, 2016
“It was a particularly sweet night since the Kings were playing and beat my hometown Toronto,” Parr told LGBT sports website Outsports. Despite having lived in L.A. for 17 years, his family still considers him a traitor for turning his back on the Leafs.
Though kiss cams are just a foolish major league gimmick, the gesture and reaction does bear some significance. Normally, heterosexual individuals of the same sex are featured on the big screen and solicited to kiss, which renders the moment a kind of weird, outdated joke that thousands of people laugh at. When a kiss cam shows a same-sex couple who actually do embrace, it changes expectations.
Progress for the acceptance of homosexuality in and around sports is slow but sure – fifteen years ago, a lesbian couple was kicked out of an L.A. Dodgers game for kissing in the stadium; now, the organization hosts occasional “gay days” – and if it takes a kiss cam to inch forward, so be it.