The gay couple whose Kiss Cam smooch at Dodger Stadium is currently going viral never meant to make a statement, but they couldn't be more pleased with the reaction, Steven Simone-Friedland tells The Advocate exclusively.
Simone-Friedland and his husband, Rick, have been together for nearly 20 years, and when they went to watch their hometown Los Angeles Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, they didn't have any grand plans.
"We just went to enjoy a nice day at the field," Simone-Friedland tells The Advocate by phone. So when a cameraman approached the couple during the third inning to ask them to be on the Kiss Cam, the men immediately said yes.
But the moments before the Simone-Friedlands appeared on the Jumbotron were nerve-wracking.
"I turned to my husband, I turned to Rick, and I said 'you know, this could go badly. This could not go well,'" recalls Simone-Friedland. "But then we did it, because we thought it would be just so fun to do, and then we heard the crowd -- and that was really unexpected, and beautiful, and affirming."
In talking about the experience after the fact, the couple zeroed in on the most surprising aspect of the entire day.
"All we did was kiss," says Simone-Friedland. "What made everyone's day was the crowd reaction. ... I don't think anybody was expecting that reaction. ... I kiss my husband every single day. That's not the big deal. The big deal is what happened immediately after. That's just the most amazing thing."
After the pair's moment on the Jumbotron, Simone-Friedland says the best thing was what happened next: "Nothing," he recalls. "I was talking to the woman behind me about the Pacquiao fight, and all the other sporting events. Nobody even flinched. And that is just telling. We were just simply Dodger fans."
A man and his son did approach the couple after the kiss, with the dad cheering the fact that the men's kiss earned the most enthusiastic applause of the Kiss Cam segment.
"I said, 'Yeah, well, I'd like to think it's because we're the best-looking couple!'" Simone-Friedland jests.
The couple -- who first had a commitment ceremony in 1999, then legally wed at the courthouse in Van Nuys, Calif., on September 27, 2013 -- are not season ticket-holders, but they do go to games "periodically," Simone-Friedland says. They've never encountered any antigay harassment at the park.
"I've always thought Dodger Stadium is a great place to go to," Simone-Friedland says. "It's a great night out, always."
"And my husband is a die-hard Dodger fan," Simone-Friedland adds. "He's played softball, and he's been in the gay softball league, and he has quite a history with them."
"It was just a really exciting thing to do for both of us," Simone-Friedland concludes. "We were so happy to do it and to be part of it, and flattered to be asked. Just completely flattered by the whole experience."
A spokesperson for the L.A. Dodgers declined to comment on whether Saturday's game marked the first time a same-sex couple has been featured on the Kiss Cam at Dodger Stadium, but the Huffington Post reports that the Dodgers' rivals, the San Francisco Giants, spotlighted a same-sex kiss during a 2011 game for LGBT Night Out at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
Relive the love-filled moment below.