Your humble author models the 2024 Cubs Pride jersey. | Photo by Jerry Lee Davis

The stereotype of Wrigley Field crowds is that they tend to fall into two categories: frat bros drinking beer out of a plastic bat or suburban dads willing to pay $25 per beer bat and complaining about how much money the players make.

That’s an oversimplification. But it’s impossible to attend a Chicago Cubs game without seeing those types of fans all over. You’ll also notice that “introspective gays who cover up their inherent shyness with snark and B-52s lyrics” didn’t make that list. You typically find that only when I’m in the ballpark.

Even though Cubs games at Wrigley Field are my favorite place in the world, I can’t help noticing my surroundings at the ballpark and thinking, “Wow, I am SO not like any of these people.”

It’s not hostile. But it’s definitely an unavoidable feeling of being different. As LGBTQ people, that’s often part of our default setting.

All of this gets to the heart of why Cubs Pride Night is such an important promotion. I noticed a welcome difference during this year’s Pride event as soon as I got to Wrigley Field.

The Cubs host a pregame Pride social at the park next to Wrigley. Once I walked in, I couldn’t miss how many LGBTQ fans and allies were already at the game and turning my favorite place into a queer space.

Instead of “I am SO not like these people,” I reflexively felt my defenses drop. I didn’t even realize they were up until the moment when I walked in and exhaled. 

Immediately I realized why I make such a big deal about Pride Nights every year. I was going to spend hours inside Wrigley Field and feel a sense of social comfort and security I can only find with people who get me.

As part of the promotion, the Cubs were giving away hundreds of eye-catching powder blue Pride jerseys. Seemingly every fan at the Pride social was sporting one and based on Nike’s crimes against fashion this season, it was a night where the gays were dressed better than the players.

I was hooked right away. But it was after we got seated and the game started that I really got a sense of how important the giveaway was to the success of the evening.

As I looked around the stands at Wrigley, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the giant pockets of powder blue throughout the entire ballpark. 

Huge groups of LGBTQ fans were seated underneath the scoreboard. Several others announced their presence throughout the rest of the bleachers. Powder blue also stood out in the lower and upper decks of the grandstand.

You can easily spot the groups of LGBTQ fans beneath the manual scoreboard in center field–as well as every section of the bleachers.
Photo by Ken Schultz

No matter where you were in the ballpark, you could spot Pride jerseys everywhere. And every time I looked, I thought, “Wrigley Field has never been gayer” as I felt my heart swell.

Most giveaways are an ephemeral bit of swag to throw in a drawer once you get home and forget about for years until you find it again when you move. 

The Cubs Pride jerseys were a way to announce “We’re here.” 

It was a message every queer fan and ally could see clear as day.

As I kept taking in the scene throughout the night, I realized that an important element of a Pride giveaway should be to make it stand out in a packed stadium. When teams provide an opportunity to show their LGBTQ fans how many others like them are in the ballpark, it changes the occasion from a promotion to a happening.

By drawing attention to a sense of community, hopefully it can make a few new fans as well.

That sense of shared experience was far and away the most inspiring part of the evening, especially when the Cubs bullpen entered the game and ruined more rainbow good vibes than Murky Dismal and Lurky.

The promotion was billed as a Pride Celebration and the thought the Cubs put into designing the jerseys so that they could be seen everywhere made it feel that way.

It was the rarest of lessons from baseball in 2024: if other teams wanted to create something successful, they should’ve imitated the Cubs.