Oct
17

Yanks to stop homophobic crowd chants

By

A 1999 book by Dean Chadwin, called Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America’s Greatest Franchise, introduced the world to the dark underbelly of Yankee fans at the height of the club’s late-1990s dynasty. Using the Yanks as his storytelling device, Chadwin explored the problems inherent in baseball economics, the way the team used its influence to secure the promise of a new stadium from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and of course, the way Yankee fans are utterly ruthless in their taunting. For those who attend the games and follow the team, the short tome didn’t break new ground, but Chadwin’s writing highlighting some of the more uncomfortable aspects of Yankee Stadium.

As a highlight of the book, Chadwin goes inside the bleachers. Then holding court in Section 39, the Bleacher Creature at Yankee Stadium was — and still is — ruthless. Those who wear the colors of an opposing team into that section can be prepared for nine innings of taunts. One part, though, garnered headlines. Chadwin explored the homophobic nature of the taunts, and in the middle of the book, he republished the Creature’s version of Y.M.C.A. The chorus replaces the Village People’s line with “Why are you gay?” and the rest of the verse isn’t much better. It’s laid out on page 45 of the book for all to see.

When the book came out, the media focused a bit on this version of the song but eventually let the issue drop. Recently, though, with a rash of high-profile anti-gay incidents and a video from the bleachers on YouTube, the bleachers’ version of this song came under fire. Gay rights activists were up in arms over the song, and the Yankees quickly responded. Security guards, the team said, would no longer tolerate this version of the song.

GLAAD issued a statement on this little brouhaha. “We reached out to the Yankees, and were extremely pleased with their reaction. Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion told us ‘the Yankees have zero tolerance for this and any kind of abuse.’ She said that security in the bleacher sections of the stadium will warn fans, before Y.M.C.A. is played, that any type of homophobic abuse ‘will not be tolerated’ and she assured us that any fans who take part in this ugly bullying will be ejected from the game.”

The Yanks’ decision to put an end to this practice is, in my opinion, about a decade too late, but while the club turned a blind eye to this practice, so too did anyone who covered the team. I’ve known about this chant for years and never wrote about it. Team beat writers or sports columnists could have chosen to attack this song instead of moralizing for the umpteenth time about steroids. But they didn’t. Homophobia has no place in sports, and while the Yanks should be applauded for vowing to stop it, albeit years too late, at their stadium, fans should not remain silent about it either.

Categories : Yankee Stadium

100 Comments»

  1. poster on another computer who happens to be a deuce bag says:

    Am I a bad fan for not having the slightest idea this was ocurring? Seriously.

    • It happens every game in the bleachers. Typically when the YMCA song starts, fans will start pointing at someone – usually a fan that is wearing opposing team colors or has been rooting against the Yankees – then the creatures will start their rendition of the song.

    • CBean says:

      I think if you’re not sitting close to that section, you can’t always hear what the creatures are doing other than the roll call (which I love) but I was recently at the ALDS game with work where our seats were almost directly on top of the creatures and you could hear everything and I kept cringing as we had some kids in our section and there was a lot of profanity.

      • Kiersten says:

        If you’re bringing kids to a baseball game, especially a playoff game, they’re going to hear profanity.

        • Adam says:

          That doesn’t mean it should or has to be that way.

          • Kiersten says:

            I disagree. Parents are waaaaaaaay too uptight about that stuff these days. We all grew up hearing profanity and omg we’re obviously such terrible people. Whatever your kids don’t hear when they’re around you they’ll surely be hearing in school.

            But now we’re going off-topic.

            • Adam says:

              That’s a fine perspective, and honestly the cursing isn’t the biggest thing to me. But it usually is tinted with all kinds of other problematic stuff. That said, I also think that being a reasonable, respectful person includes not acting like a douchebag around children.

          • deadrody says:

            Actually, yes it does. This song ? Maybe not. Profanity ? Yes. The majority of people that go to major sporting events, especially Yankee Stadium are ADULTS. And like it or not, that is how adults talk. Fact of life. You can whine and complain about it all you like. But it is a fact and it is not going to change.

        • JGS says:

          Chants of “Fuck you, Griffey” were part of my childhood experience at the Stadium.

          • Jerome S. says:

            That is really, really unfortunate.
            But I guess calling A-Rod A-Fraud or A-Roid literally every time he gets out is the same thing nowadays.
            Well, kinda.

    • jyak says:

      I sat in the bleachers to the right of screen last season and had a pleasant experience. There was a gentleman with his young son directly in front of me and they were enjoying themselves as well. This was the day the Yanks won the division and they were playing the Red Sox. There were Red Sox fans in the bleachers who were boo’ed when passing but that is all. I thought the fans were funny and they did taunt Drew and Ellsbury but it was all in fun and no vulgarity or off-color comments.

    • dukesandsonscatering says:

      i had no idea either…..would love to find ut the words…does anyone know the lyrics to the “other” version

  2. You can stop the song, but it won’t stop some fans from using the word “faggot” every two minutes. This is a step in the right direction, but the root problem is a bigger issue with our society as a whole. The outrage over this song seems like it’s only because of the New York media market.

  3. hogan says:

    How about, “You suck!” The most common chant heard in every stadium across America. I assure you it is not in reference to an egg.

    Everything that is offensive to anyone should be policed. Let’s build a jail and courtroom in the stadium too.

    • That’s a naive point. “You suck” has evolved into a phrase that is largely devoid of its original meaning…just like other words with an etymological evolution. Did you know that a “fag” used to mean “stick?” Or that “gay” used to mean “happy? Well, you certainly wouldn’t be using those words in their original contexts now.

      • Justin says:

        And the reason “faggot” exists as a slur against gays is because they used to burn gays like firewood. “Put him over there with the other faggots.”

        So, you know, it’s a real vile word (in this country), considering its extremely violent origins. Anything that gets us to think twice about using it is progress.

        • Mike says:

          http://tinyurl.com/55ask2

          Lots of words have bad origins but evolve into something else. I’m not saying the word “faggot” has been totally separated from a gay slur because it hasn’t…but at the same time it is used just as often, if not moreso to mean someone who is stupid or a wuss. I’m a straight male, and I use the word plenty of times with my friends with this second meaning, and I’m sure PLENTY of other people do as well. Words evolve, and I think that unless someone is using the word to a homosexual person as a slur, it should not automatically be referred to as hate speech

          • Justin says:

            If you want to call someone stupid or wimpy, why not call them stupid or wimpy? The English language has more words than any other. We always have a choice.

            Anyway, I agree that words on their own have little power. But in this case, the people are definitely using them in a hateful manner.

  4. hogan says:

    Is nothing holy? What’s next? The, “AT THE GANG BANG!” song?

  5. Jake Barnes says:

    Its great the Yankees can police behavior limited to one section, imagine the herculean effort it would take for the red sox to stop racism at Fenway.

  6. JerseyDutch says:

    I’m totally against rampant political correctness and speech codes in general, but I think this is a good idea. I could also do without the chanting of “asshole” at people wearing opposing team hats and jerseys but one thing at time. You hate to have to go the length of banning people but we should — as Yankees fans — simply be above that sort of childish nonsense.

  7. Brendan says:

    As a gay Yankees fan that’s found myself near (though never in) the bleachers, I’ve heard the chant a good number of times now. It’s always really just kind of brought down the experience of being at the game; not that I was offended, but that certified die-hard Yankees fans would put on such a moronic display. I mean, I’m not expecting the BCs to be the classiest bunch, but this is a step in the right direction.

  8. Marion Cobretti says:

    I’m a Yankee fan living in Philly. I’m friendly with a part owner of the phils and get top seats to the game. You would not believe the things that are yelled , signs that are held up etc… From Philly fans. And this is from people sitting in the VIP section. I’m all for free speech, but a ballpark is not a public forum for racist, homophobic comments. I’m always shocked what fans get away with in Philly.
    That being said, even as a die hard Yankee fan, Citizens bank, both the crowd and the stadium are >>>>>>> new Yankee stadium. And it’s 100% bc the Yankees priced out true fans from sitting close with the new stadium. And don’t give me the argument that the free market supports the Yankees ticket cost bc it doesn’t. Regularly by $1000 face value regular season seats for under $100 on stub hub precisely because nobody would/can pay that much.

  9. mark says:

    Of course I’m delighted that the Yankees are trying to discourage abuse of any kind, but it ironic as the Village People’s famous song was really about the Y as a venue for gay men meeting other gay men and gays understood the sub-text. I thought it was amusing that the Yankees org adopted this song for their ground crew’s work and in my mind it partially offset having to endure the revolting God Bless America which brings nationalism and religion into sports when it should be absent.
    The pledge is another thing which I’d eliminate as another unnecessary intrusion of politics. It was introduced during the WWI war fever that also led to mass deportations of immigrants and the jailing of anti-war activists.

    I wonder whether the word changes of the abusive homophobic fans is because of their awareness of the song’s history and their bigotry or is just a coincidence.

    • Adam says:

      I would guess coincidence in one sense (not, say, listening to or understanding the lyrics). But probably not a coincidence in the sense that the Village People were/are symbols of the gay movement in the 70s to a certain extent (at least on a popular culture level). Kudos to the Yankees for something that is well overdue. International football, for instance, has to deal with lots of racist chanting and has tried to at least run programs to ban and educate. It’s a bit of an uphill battle, but it is nice to see the Yankees take a definitive stand.

    • deadrody says:

      Oh, not that. God Bless American and -GASP- even worse, the pledge of allegiance.

      Wow.

  10. Kiersten says:

    To be fair, every boy sang it this way in elementary/middle school. It wasn’t “created” by Yankee fans.

  11. jon says:

    Whats next? they are going to stop red sox fans from throwing batteries at black players

  12. larryf says:

    Terrible behavior/cursing/vulgarity happens every Sunday at NFL games. I have walked through tailgates in Oakland and in Philly. Ugly stuff. It is all awful. At least it is not as rampant in the hours prior to the Yankee games all over the parking lots. Stupid/ignorant and often drunk folks…

  13. Pablo Zevallos says:

    Team beat writers or sports columnists could have chosen to attack this song instead of moralizing for the umpteenth time about steroids. But they didn’t.

    Is it me, or do sports writers tend to be much more culturally conservative (to put it gently)? Using steroids is wrong because of its unspoken deviation from the Puritan work ethic. Short white players with skill deficiencies with beards are “gritty,” “hard-nosed,” and “good” (whether they are those things or not) and are oftentimes more valuable than black players, who are “fast” and “athletic,” and Latin players, who are are shiny-new but “lazy,” just as hard-working “real Americans” should be placed ahead of the “northeastern elites” and the “Left Coast” (read: more diverse areas) even if the latter two regions experience more success. Mark McGwire’s and Andy Pettite’s steroid use is not the worst thing in the world, but Barry Bonds’s and (allegedly) Gary Sheffield’s is. Mickey Mantle was a tortured man, but Dwight Gooden just couldn’t get his life together. I’m not trying to insinuate that all of this is expressly blatant, but it does come across, even if subtly.

    *awaits firestorm*

    • JGS says:

      There is undoubtedly plenty of latent and not-so-latent racism in the way athletes are treated, but I’d argue that McGwire’s steroid use is seen as the end of the world (see his HOF vote totals). Pettitte’s isn’t because no one cares about steroids unless they impacted home run records, like McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Rodriguez, etc. David Ortiz got a free pass because he wasn’t threatening single season or career home run records, and Pettitte got one because no one cares about pitchers.

    • bexarama says:

      I don’t disagree with your general point, but McGwire (and Clemens, as someone pointed out below) get/s skewered for their steroid use. Sheffield is murdered for being a jerk, not necessarily his steroid use. Likewise, I think the fact that Pettitte is viewed as a super nice guy is a big part of why his steroid use is no big deal, that and that Pettitte isn’t an all-time great like Clemens was.

    • Esteban says:

      When do sportswriters talk about northeastern elites and the left coast? And the west coast is really more diverse than, let’s say, New York?
      I think there is subconscious/ subtle racism in the way players are talked about, but I think it’s because sportswriters are lazy and for the most part dumb, so they stick to familiar and easy templates to write their articles.
      On another note, while ‘social conservatives’ may be uneasy (at the least) about gay rights, there’s nothing ‘conservative’ bout discrimination and bias. Bigots are bigots and there are people that are quite liberal on some social issues but are still bigots and racists.

      • Pablo Zevallos says:

        Let me go through this one piece-by-piece.

        “When do sportswriters talk about northeastern elites and the left coast?”

        I was making the parallels between sportswriter speak and “real America” speak.

        “And the west coast is really more diverse than, let’s say, New York?”

        I was saying that both are more diverse than “Middle America.”

        “there’s nothing ‘conservative’ bout discrimination and bias”

        It’s not that simple. What makes someone conservative? The desire for things to stay the same. What makes someone want things to stay the same? Because things are going well for him/her. And what happens if things change? They may not go as well as they have been for this person. And what makes someone think that something might change and make matters worse? Fear. And what’s one way to keep matters as they are? To be insular and keep to yourself while viewing the others as rivals to be defeated. So conservatism isn’t bigoted, but it lends itself to bigotry in as certain kind of person.

        • Jerome S. says:

          I’m not even going there.

        • Esteban says:

          Yea, the thing is that you’re wrong and insulting in your last contention I don’t want to get into any more politics, and your simplistic definitions of conservative and liberal mean. I’ll leave it at bigots are bigots, and neither side of the aisle has a monopoly on ‘open-minded’ policies.

        • pete says:

          I think this would be a prudent time to make the “conservative in the classical sense of the word, as it was used to describe a certain brand of political ideology in the early 1800s that countered classical Liberalism”.

          The labels in today’s political arena guarantee absolutely no connection to their linguistic roots.

        • Dalelama says:

          Then why was the most progressive President Woodrow Wilson also the most bigoted?

          • Pablo Zevallos says:

            1) That you think that Woodrow Wilson was the most progressive president is laughable
            2) The reference was to cultural/social conservatives vs. cultural/social progressives; other matters are not in play here

          • Nice says:

            because he was raised in Georgia.

            while Wilson served during the progressive era of reform, that didn’t make him a progressive. He engaged in red baiting and he imprisoned Eugene Debs for exercising free speech.

        • candyforstalin says:

          What makes someone conservative? The desire for things to stay the same.

          that is funny. the most basic premiss of conservatism is that change is unavoidable.

          • Pablo Zevallos says:

            Right, which is why conservatism seeks to resist many kinds of change.

            I’ll stop replying right now before I get myself banned.

            • candyforstalin says:

              conservatism doesn’t seek to resist change. it seeks to resist large scale change. it stems from a deeply distrust of human nature and the knowledge that every change bring with it a loss.

              p.s. the idea that someone is a conservative because things are going well for him is ah ah ah funny.

              • M says:

                and conservative resistance to the large scale change (regardless of political affiliation) of desegregation and women’s rights was shameful. Losing segregation wasn’t a loss, except for those who are sick.

                • candyforstalin says:

                  this was not a moral discussion. nor did i characterize change as a loss. i didn’t characterize it at all.

              • M says:

                thankfully conservatives didn’t resist the large scale change of the internet over the loss of hand written letters.

    • Murakami says:

      Absolutely. Brett Gardner, not the most talented player on the planet, routinely has attributes invented for him. Did you hear the national guys talk about what a good bunter he is with two strikes on him?

      This is just pure fantasy! Gardner is not even a particularly good bunter; now he’s a good bunter with two strikes on him?? How about last year during the World Series? Didn’t McCarver call Gardner “the best bunter in the American League” ???

      These people betray their own reflexive, unconscious racism or ethnocentrism. And meanwhile, what Yankee fan didn’t want Cano shipped out for “laziness” and for daring to have better range than Pedroia and not having to dive for balls?

      People get up in arms when you call this kind of “reasoning” out, and I believe it’s because even they don’t know how much cultural stereotypes, rooted in bigotry, drive their thinking, if you can call it that. They are not even aware of it. Scary.

    • deadrody says:

      You are awaiting a firestorm because you see racism where it does not exist. I don’t know of ANYONE that thinks Mark McGuire’s steroid use was any less significant than Bonds.

      And elitism is to be disdained in all its forms. The “northeast” is no more “successful” than any place else. And even if it were, that does not mean everyone in the US should be eagerly awaiting their marching orders from the smarter, more successful northeasterners.

  14. Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

    Just have some class in general and enjoy a simple fucking baseball game. Treat ppl the way you want to treated. This applies to life and baseball.

  15. Kiersten says:

    Meh, Clemens’ steroid use is a pretty big deal, not to mention McGwire’s is keeping him out of the HOF. Pettitte just used HGH.

    I think sportswriters use those terms because of the narratives we’re all so used to, not because they’re more culturally conservative.

  16. Andy says:

    I am sure fans in Section 203 will now lay off the Frenchie chants the next three days.

  17. Jim in Bingo says:

    This is the right thing to do — though I must note, as someone who attended a lot of games in the 1991-4 era, and always sat in the bleachers, I found the gang bang chants much more of an issue.

    In any case, the book referenced in the post is very poorly written. Laughably so — not least the idea that YMCA “innocuously guided young men in trouble to regain their balance with a stay at the Y” — really?

    • Esteban says:

      Seriously. I’ve never understood the popularity of that song and it’s easily one of the most irritating things the Yankees do.

  18. AndrewYF says:

    The best way to stop the chant? Stop playing that fucking awful song.

  19. Jonathan says:

    I went to my 2nd YSII game vs the Mets in 2007 when Glavine pitched vs Clippard on a Saturday with a monster 2 hour rain delay and I sat in the upper deck in RF. I know players can’t hear anything from there, but fans were screaming unbelievable things at each other and the players. Examples: “Arod likes his ass fisted by Jeter” “Clemens is likes more than steroids injected in his ass” and none of the ushers did ANYTHING. There must have been at least 3 or 4 fights just in the upper deck of RF that day and the police teams had to be involved. A Mets fan directly behind me constantly berated people as they walked by. All of this happened without 10 feet of an usher who just shook her head and looked the other way. This was the same day when that drunk guy broke his neck falling in the upper deck. it was right in front of me. He was so Drunk that he wasn’t falling down the stairs, he was falling OVER people, in the middle of the rows and down multiple rows over multiple people….Not only did this happen once and there was no action taken, but it happened at least once or twice more and no ushers did a thing. In the 1st game i went to i sat directly behind the radar gun for Clemens vs Oliver Perez and in the first inning, a Mets fan stood up and yelled, “Jeter you suck!”. The old man sitting next to me who had had season tix for over 35 years called an usher over and said, “he doesn’t belong here”. And they tossed him immediately from the game. There’s no room for any of the stuff that happened in the upper deck and it’s not like the problem makers are hiding.

  20. Peter A Lopez says:

    I thought they clamped down on bleacher chants awhile ago, remember showing up one game few years back after they got rid of alcohol and the opening game chant (after the Mets sucks, red sox sucks, box seats suck) now included:

    “our freedom of speech rights censored by” and the creatures would point to the closest cop.

    • swo says:

      I’ve sat in the bleachers a few times over the last few years (old and new stadium) and distinctly remember security guards telling the Creatures to stop their YMCA chant, and even tossing a few fans who didn’t listen. That they’re enforcing this now is nothing new.

      I’m glad to hear the Yankees are serious about it, but they’re only talking about it publicly because of what’s been happening in the news. Granted, the chant is stupid and insensitive, but it’s not as if the Yankees have turned a blind eye to it.

  21. Poopy Pants says:

    I had no idea this was happening. I don’t sit in the bleachers because I’m not white trash.

    They *shouldn’t* say those things, but anytime someone wants to infringe on free speech, I think it’s a problem. Everyone is offended by something. It’s bad to start going down that road, but sadly our country is already far lost to special interest groups.

  22. Tony says:

    That’s Gay.

  23. oldsection39 says:

    The why are you gay is the last remaining vestage of the old RF bleachers, this used to be among the tamest chants. Anyone remember friend of mine, usually sung best in the early 90′s late in blowout games, with maybe 5,000 left in the house?

  24. Cult of Basebaal says:

    Well said (err, written) Ben.

  25. deadrody says:

    You know, my overall take on this is that if the Yankees want to stop that kind of behavior, good on them. But you know what else ? They don’t need to publicize it and they don’t need to kowtow to gay rights groups either. Make the change in policy and be done. Let the gay rights groups work themselves into a lather for a half hour until they move onto the next perceived grievance so they can exhibit their faux outrage.

    No company’s internal policies should be directed towards placating outside grievance seekers.

    • Timmy Soprano says:

      you know what pisses me off is you can’t curse on regular tee vee or the radio or show nudity because jesus freaks and old ladies get their undies in a bunch. Well, what about the vast majority of us who aren’t offended by f-bombs in a song and nice boobs.

  26. M says:

    what’s wrong with a little homophobia. Bashing gays is as American as apple pie.

    /no maas’d

  27. UncleArgyle says:

    I’ve seen “ARod Sucks, Jeter Swallows” T-Shirts in CHILDREN SIZES being sold outside Fenway park. I wonder if that will ever be brought up. Anyway, I agree, theres really no place for Phobic chants at public events.

  28. KofH says:

    Our AA team plays YMCA. They started playing it between innings instead of randomly…which let a little more be played.

    When the line ‘do what the fuck you feel’ was played, about 30 dads got up cornered the GM (minor leagues have sone advantages…).

  29. Oscar Gamble's Fro says:

    I’ve been sitting out in the bleachers since 1995 and the cops started throwing people out during this song at least five years ago. This is most certainly not something new….

  30. Matthew G. says:

    Good. Long overdue. I love the relentless stridency of the Bleacher Creatures, actually, but this homophobic song was what crossed the line.

  31. dark side of the goon says:

    I usually sit in the infield upper level and the stuff that goes on there is amazing in a crude and rude way. I have rarely seen a fan get tossed though when one is it is usually for taunting an out of town fan. It seems like security doesn’t care when Yankee fans are turning on each other. Some of the people get drunk and say outrageous things. They’re not only homophobic but also misogynistic which still seems to be very accepted. “You’re a little bitch” or “Go change your tampon” etc etc. Why are those things okay? People will be offended at the word “retard” or “gay” or “faggot” but not have a problem with bitch or anything like that. I think there are most likely more women than gay people or mentally challenged people at the game. Yet, that goes on unabated not only at the games but here on the game threads too. And it’s rare that something is said or someone (like Captain Jack who is a racist, homophobic, misogynist) banned.

  32. dukesandsonscatering says:

    anyone know the words…want to c it.. cause seriously i had no idea this was goin on….

    • I’m not asking this to be snarky, but did you read my post? I linked to the lyrics at least twice and perhaps even three times. Check out the link at the end of the second paragraph:

      Chadwin explored the homophobic nature of the taunts, and in the middle of the book, he republished the Creature’s version of Y.M.C.A. The chorus replaces the Village People’s line with “Why are you gay?” and the rest of the verse isn’t much better. It’s laid out on page 45 of the book for all to see.

  33. gamblor210 says:

    I sit out in the Right Field Bleachers and have heard the song for years and have no problem with it, Generally the fan that is the center of the song loves it. Game 3 of the ALDS this year one Minnesota fan was surrounded and the song was sang and after went to shake hands with the people singing saying it was the funniest thing he has heard. Of course while this was happening a mother with two young girls (no more than 14 was watching and allowing the girls to take video and pictures of it.

    They have tried to police it in the past and it usually works for a week or two and than comes back.

    and they should never get rid of the Gang Bang song.

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