This time, anti-LGBTQ sentiment didn’t win. The Los Angeles Dodgers have reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to be honored with the team’s Community Hero Award at their Pride Night next month, following a week of backlash over their regrettable about-face.
Over the last year, Pride Nights, events meant to celebrate LGBTQ inclusivity in sports, have become flash points in our increasingly noxious culture wars. Multiple clubs have caved to the pressure: the Tampa Bay Rays allowed players to not wear rainbow insignias, NHL teams covered for players who didn’t wear rainbow warmup jerseys.
To play damage control, they all issued mealy-mouth statements expressing support for LGBTQ people, while simultaneously acquiescing to their players’ bigotry. The Dodgers are the first team to reverse course and actually apologize to the community.
They deserve a lot of credit for that.
“After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities, honest conversations within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and generous discussions with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families,” the team wrote in a statement.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten told Outsports that re-inviting the Sisters to Pride Night is the right thing to do.
“We moved too quickly,” he said. “Since then we’ve had the opportunity to do a lot more talking, a lot more reading and most importantly a lot more listening. We met with the sisters earlier today, we expressed our apology, asked them to be part of our Pride night and they have accepted.”
Formed in San Francisco four decades ago, the Sisters have served many diverse communities, most notably helping AIDS patients in the 1980s and 1990s when the Catholic Church turned them away. They often use humor and religious imagery to highlight anti-gay discrimination.
Mad props to the @Dodgers for listening to the truth, seeing the light, and welcoming the @LADragnuns back to Pride Night! You made a new fan (but I’m still rooting for the @SFGiants ) pic.twitter.com/sC46wnzWxN— Sister Roma (@SisterRoma) May 23, 2023
Catholic League president Bill Donohue and Sen. Marco Rubio used the Sisters’ invitation as an opportunity to score political points, lambasting the Dodgers for honoring the charitable group.
When the Dodgers succumbed to the bad faith pressure, Rubio took the opportunity to embark on a victory lap. “For once, common sense prevailed in California,” he tweeted.
The Dodgers’ decision to disinvite the Sisters generated widespread scrutiny from the LGBTQ community. Multiple organizations, including LA Pride, pulled out of the event.
That was unfortunate. The Dodgers typically host one of the biggest Pride events in all of sports, and feature out LGBTQ people at the highest levels of their organization. Billie Jean King and her wife Illana Ross are minority owners, and Erik Braverman is a senior vice president of marketing.
But years of good work and goodwill were at risk of being erased due to a knee-jerk reaction. The Dodgers’ Pride Night isn’t until June 16, meaning they had a month to figure out an appropriate course of action. The organization made a big mistake.
As Outsports’ Ken Schulz notes in his excellent essay on the matter, Pride is a protest. So when a Pride event pisses off the right people, that means it’s doing its job.
Pride Nights are now omnipresent across pro sports. But when teams don’t stand up for the LGBTQ community in face of attacks, the events are rendering meaningless. They become nothing more than marketing ploys to attract the rainbow dollar.
That’s wildly offensive, and if teams decide to go that route, they shouldn’t bother hosting Pride Nights at all.
The two-month long backlash to Bud Light’s partnership with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney shows the risk that companies still take when they promote LGBTQ inclusivity. Conservatives preach about the sanctity of the free market ... until businesses partner with LGBTQ people.
Then, they need to be stopped.
The Dodgers will undoubtedly face immense right-wing backlash for their re-invitation. The team’s Pride Night promises to be the leading topic on Fox News and far-right outlets for the upcoming weeks. There will be threats, criticisms and calls for boycotts.
But that’s just grandstanding. For a decade, the Dodgers have hosted Pride Night as a way to showcase LA’s diverse and beautiful LGBTQ community. This year’s event promises to be the most meaningful, and important, one yet.
You can get tickets to Dodgers Pride Night here.