Pride Nights have been celebrated in professional sports for the past two decades with little fanfare. Clubs proudly displayed their support of the LGBTQ community.
Last month, a Florida legislator voiced his displeasure over the Pride Night guestlist of a Major League Baseball club 2,700 miles away. This led to an un-cancellation, cancellations, and hurt feelings for everyone involved, including a two-time Cy Young Award winner pitcher.
The routine act of supporting a general LGBTQ celebration has become a controversial topic. Even the stitching of practice jerseys is a hot button issue.
“I think people’s current political leanings are showing a bit,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairman Congressional Equality Caucus, and one of Congress’ 13 openly LGBTQ Members.
He continued, “Since Donald Trump took office, many people who wear white hoods left them in their closets for the past six years.” It’s okay to say things that are unpopular, as this is the environment.
Cyd Ziegler is a gay sports historian and founder of Outsports, an LGBTQ sports news site. She attributes the current backlash on two points of inflection: patches and pronouns.
Five Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear LGBTQ Pride themed jerseys in June. In June, Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and James Reimer of the San Jose Shark refused to wear warmup gear with Pride symbols.
Ziegler explained that some players said, “Uh, that’s not what I want to do.” “So, that was a big change.”
He said that the biggest inflection point could be around issues surrounding transgender rights. Ziegler noted that embracing cornerstone gay rights such as same-sex married was relatively easy for Americans and less complex than questioning gender identities and roles.
He said that Pride Night is the “new battlefront” and, with trans rights at the forefront, he does not think it will be forgotten anytime soon.
Ziegler stated that the reaction was not a minor inconvenience. This is going to be an epic battle.
The Los Angeles Dodgers honored the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during the team’s annual LGBTQ Pride on June 16, causing a debate about Pride Night.
The drag performers, a charitable organization that has been around for decades, describe themselves as “leading-edge order of queer nuns and trans nuns”.
Mike Pence, former vice president of the United States, spoke out Wednesday on the Dodgers guest list and said that the Pride Night temperature could be so high it would even affect the presidential election in 2024.
Pence said to his followers that May 31. “Having grown up in a Catholic home, the Dodgers’ decision to invite Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their event, which is next month, is deeply offensive.” The MLB shouldn’t apologize to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They should apologize to Catholics in America.
Athlete Ally – which promotes sports to end prejudice towards the LGBTQ community – said in a recent statement that Pride Night events were important for greater acceptance by all communities.
The group stated that “sport has historically been an area where LGBTQI+ athletes, coaches, and fans have not felt welcome.” While much progress has already been made, thanks in part to the out athletes and coaches that have paved the way, there are still many barriers to make sport a place where everyone feels safe and welcome.
The group said, “Teams can incorporate their values in how they present themselves to the communities who love and support them. Pride nights provide an opportunity for teams show up proactively for their LGBTQI+ supporters.”
MLB’s embrace of the gay communities dates back to 1994, when the San Francisco Giants hosted their first “Until There is a Cure Day”. The pre-game and game ceremonies raised awareness and money for the fight against AIDS.
The San Francisco Bay Area was a big fan of the event with minimal disruption.
The origins of Pride Day/Night are usually traced back to an August 2000 incident at Dodger Stadium, where security guards ejected two female fans for kissing in the stands.
The team apologized and gave tickets to gay community groups in the area. This, perhaps unintentionally, set off a series of events that led to Pride Day/Night being celebrated by 29 out of 30 MLB clubs since.
Outsports reported that the Texas Rangers are still the only franchise in America to have never held a similar celebration.