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Jock Talk: MLB's local LGBT and Pride games set

by Roger Brigham

Members of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performed at a San Francisco Giants Pride Night. Photo: Courtesy FourTwoNine
Members of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band performed at a San Francisco Giants Pride Night. Photo: Courtesy FourTwoNine  

As I perused the websites of the local Major League Baseball teams to check out the details of their special event games focused on the LGBT community, I found myself getting a solid education in the current pop culture scene.

Are you a movie buff? Both the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants have "Star Wars"-themed events. The A's will celebrate "Black Panther" in May; the Giants will hold a VIP Experience for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" fans in September.

Both teams are stocked with a battery of ethnic group appreciation nights. The Giants promote most of theirs with backpacks that have colors or flags of different nations; the A's have statuettes of the team's elephant mascot with a blanket stretched across his back; from the pictured back views, it looks like he's flashing the fans.

The Giants also honor tokidoki. Being the pop culture ignoramus that I am, I had no clue what that was. Did an internet search and found a lot of cutely drawn figures and the information that the word is Japanese for "sometimes," it is an international "iconic lifestyle brand," and is known for "its eye-popping aesthetic and criminally cute characters but also its megawatt partnerships."

So, the Giants should consider themselves megawatted.

As to our community events.

The Giants will hold their 25th annual "Until There's A Cure Night" Sunday, June 3, with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Philadelphia Phillies. A portion of the special event ticket sales goes to the Until There's A Cure Foundation, which helps raise awareness of AIDS care, prevention, and other services.

During Pride Month, the Giants will host their LGBT Night Thursday, June 21, with a 7:15 p.m. game against the San Diego Padres. The event is sponsored by PG&E and partnered with Team San Francisco (http://www.facebook.com/TeamSanFrancisco), the Federation of Gay Games (http://www.gaygames.org), the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band (http://sflgfb.townalive.com/), San Francisco Pride (http://www.sfpride.org), and Horizons Foundation (http://www.horizonsfoundation.org). The Giants said partial proceeds will go to local LGBT nonprofits. A Pride backpack will be a promotional giveaway.

Seats for LGBT Night are available throughout AT&T Park, starting at $25. Details on both of the events and ticket purchases may be found on the Special Events page at http://www.mlb.com/giants.

The Oakland A's will hold their annual Pride Night on Friday, June 8, with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Kansas City Royals. Special event ticket holders will receive an A's-branded Pride flag.

Individual special event tickets can be purchased directly from the A's at http://www.mlb.com/athletics. Event tickets are available for seats clustered in several sections, ranging in price from $26 to $48.

Alternatively, seats in Section 106R on the first base side of Oakland Coliseum can be purchased through the Use the News Foundation as promoted in a recent San Francisco Bay Times newsletter, for $40 - a $2 markup the A's said benefits Use the News and the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center (http://www.oaklandlgbtqcenter.org). Those tickets are available at http://www.groupmatics.events/event/sanfrancisco4 .

A's spokesman Mike Rodgers said the A's were approached by Use the News and have been working in partnership to promote the event. Use the News maintains no active website, but anyone interested in finding out more about it can contact its president, Bay Times co-publisher Betty Sullivan, at bettysnie@aol.com.

According to its 2015 IRS Form 990 (the latest available on GuideStar), Use the News reported $11,422 in revenue and $10,727 in expenses. The nonprofit describes its purpose as fostering "partnerships with schools' newspapers in education programs and their business partners." The foundation spent $10,727 on program expenses, which it listed as events, office expenses, and other items.

The foundation appears to be relatively inactive. Sullivan declined to comment.

Commonwealth Games
LGBTI athletes were front and center at the recently completed Commonwealth Games in Australia, with those 13 athletes winning a total of 10 medals.

The Commonwealth Games is an invitational multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations and takes place every four years.

Leading the way was intersex athlete Caster Semenya of South Africa, who won gold medals in the 800- and 1,500-meter women's track events. England's Tom Daley won gold in men's synchronized platform diving.

Silvers went to Shawn Barber of Canada in the men's pole vault, Tom Bosworth of England in the men's 20-kilometer race walk, and New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen in the women's individual time trial.

Lesbians winning bronzes were England's Kelly Sibley in team table tennis and Susannah Townsend in field hockey; Australia's Rachel Grinhamin in women's squash doubles; and South Africa's Sunette Viljoen in the javelin.

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, of New Zealand, was leading the women's 90-kilogram-plus division when she ruptured her left elbow attempting a Commonwealth-record 132 kilogram lift in the snatch competition, forcing her out of the tournament.

"I have no regrets about the attempts that I made, because I believe that to be true to sport you really have to try to be the best that you can," Hubbard said afterward.

Hubbard's participation had been condemned by some sports representatives in advance of the games.

"A man is a man and a woman is a woman, and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter," Samoa head coach Jerry Wallwork said. "The situation may have been accepted by the [International Olympic Committee] but that won't stop us from protesting, regardless of whether it's against one of our lifters or not. It's just very unfair."

The Gold Coast crowd, however, had none of that, cheering her every time she stepped up to lift.

"The crowd was absolutely magnificent," Hubbard said. "I felt, like, just a big embrace. And I wanted to give them something that reflected the best I could do and my only real regret today is that I wasn't able to show that. But there was no indication at all today that they were anything other than absolutely fantastic. So a real credit to the Australian people and also the broader sporting community."

After Daley's platform victory, he told news media, "I hope one day every athlete from every nation in the Commonwealth will be free to compete openly as who they are, too."

Commendable sentiment wrapped in a bit of irony, since many of the repressive laws in the former British colonies that make up the Commonwealth were introduced by the British.

"The widely applauded statement came with no recognition of one powerful fact: nearly all of the Commonwealth countries that outlaw homosexuality do so through colonial-era British laws," Irish commentator Sean O'Neill wrote in the New Internationalist. "The hostility toward LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth is a legacy of Britain's empire. The laws expressed a very British contempt for perceived vice and immorality in the colonies."


Contact the columnist at jocktalkroger@yahoo.com.

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