In baseball terms, it was an unforced error. Now the Dodgers have thrown a change-up, and are hoping that there will not be any long-term repercussions.
The issue, of course, is the team’s annual Pride Night. The Dodgers have been celebrating the LGBTQ+ community for more than a decade, and the schedule for next month’s event called for honoring, among others, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a satirical drag group active in charitable causes in the LGBTQ+ community.
But when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and others charged that the group was anti-Catholic, the Dodgers yanked the invite. That incited days of growing outrage that caused the team to reconsider.
On Monday afternoon, the chastened franchise showed that it had heard the call. In a statement, with the team’s interlocking “LA” logo displayed in rainbow colors, the Dodgers backtracked.
The statement cited “generous discussions” with the Sisters, and said, “the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LBGTQ+ community and their friends and families.”
It added, “We are pleased to share that they have agreed to receive the gratitude of our collective communities for the lifesaving work they have done tirelessly for decades.”
It is a remarkable turn of events, and an equally remarkable change of course.
The Dodgers were one of the earliest sports franchises to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, hosting in September 2013 what was then labeled LGBT Night Out. The second installment came the following July, with the team’s chief marketing officer Lon Rosen saying , “We look forward to once again welcoming and recognizing the LGBT community of Los Angeles to Dodger Stadium. They are an integral part of this city of ours and the Dodger community.”
The celebration grew in stature and popularity since then, and other teams across the city and country increasingly hosted what came to be known as Pride Nights.
That is partly why the decision this month to disinvite the Sisters was so jarring. The Dodgers selected a swath of organizations to honor with the Community Hero Award, included the Sisters, who have been active for nearly three decades. But in the wake of the decision, Rubio and others protested and groups like the Catholic League and CatholicVote launched vigorous social media and email campaigns targeting the Dodgers and the offices of Major League Baseball.
The team wilted in the face of the pressure campaign and in a May 17 statement referencing “the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening” said the team had opted “to remove them from this year’s group of honorees.”
Civil rights groups and various politicians all loudly condemned the move. The Los Angeles LGBT Center said that if the team did not reverse itself, then, “we strongly encourage the Dodgers to cancel Pride Night. The L.A. County Delegation, which comprises more than three dozen members of the state Assembly and Senate, sharply criticized the Dodgers’ move. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath last week tweeted, “If they’re not invited, I’m not going. Celebrating Pride is about inclusion. Do better.”
The wave unprecedented of outrage resonated, and the battered team re-invited the Sisters and pledged, in Monday’s statement, “to better educate ourselves.”
The Pride Night game takes place on Friday, June 16, against the San Francisco Giants.