Tribute to Heklina to highlight Giants' Pride Night

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday May 23, 2023
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The San Francisco Giants plan to have drag artists as guests for the team's Pride Night June 10. Photo: Ballparks of Baseball
The San Francisco Giants plan to have drag artists as guests for the team's Pride Night June 10. Photo: Ballparks of Baseball

In the aftermath of the Los Angeles Dodgers' invitation, disinvitation, and reinvitation of the Southern California chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from its Pride Night next month, the Bay Area Reporter has learned the San Francisco Giants Pride Night will feature local drag queens.

Sister Roma of the San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence told the B.A.R. on May 23 that she and Peaches Christ (Joshua Grannell), a close friend of Heklina's, will be presenting an "exclusive VIP Heklina Experience" in honor of the late drag queen, who died suddenly April 3 in London at the age of 55.

The Giants Pride Night is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, with a 4:35 p.m. game against the Chicago Cubs at Oracle Park. It will take place six days prior to the team playing the Dodgers during the latter's Pride Night.

"This year the SF Giants are more committed than ever to their annual LGBTQ night. Peaches and I are thrilled to be working very closely with them to create an exclusive VIP Heklina Experience," Roma stated to the B.A.R. "I don't want to give too much away but trust us, it's going to be an event fit for a queen!"

The Giants had no comment May 23, saying that more details will be announced soon.

"We haven't announced anything because we wait till we get into June," Shana Daum, vice president of communications and community relations for the Giants, told the B.A.R.

The Giants did not answer a question about whether it would invite San Francisco's new drag laureate, D'Arcy Drollinger, another close friend of Heklina's, to be part of Pride Night. Drollinger is co-emceeing with Sister Roma and Peaches Christ Heklina's memorial service being held at the Castro Theatre Tuesday at 8 p.m.

SF archbishop joins row over drag nuns

The Dodgers have been the subject of controversy for the past week after the team decided to invite the LA chapter of the Sisters to be honored with a Community Hero Award at its June 16 Pride Night game. The Southern California National League team then disinvited the drag nun group after criticism from conservatives, who accused the group of being anti-Catholic.

The Sisters have poked fun at religion ever since first publicly appearing in San Francisco on Easter Sunday in 1979. Since then, the group has established orders in other cities with members raising funds for charitable groups and elevating awareness about LGBTQ rights.

The Giants had no comment about the Dodgers imbroglio when asked by the B.A.R.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) wrote a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred asking, "Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being 'inclusive and welcoming to everyone' by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians — and not only Christians, but nuns, who devote their lives to serving others?"

The Sisters, for their part, denied being anti-Catholic, and highlighted their charitable causes.

"The Sisters were among the first to raise money to help care for people with AIDS and to create and distribute safer-sex information," the San Francisco chapter stated. "They support other groups, including several mainstream churches, in their work. Sisters are regularly called upon to minister to the sick, the dying, and the mourning."

The Dodgers' decision to disinvite the Sisters led the Los Angeles LGBT Center and LA Pride to step away from the event. The Dodgers reinvited and apologized to the Sisters May 22 and the group accepted.

Sister Unity of the LA chapter tweeted the group's statement after being reinvited by the Dodgers.

"We, the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, are proud to accept the Community Hero Award from the Los Angeles Dodgers for our 27 years of service to the LGBTQIA2S community," they tweeted.

In a statement issued May 22 Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner called the Pride Night controversy a "debacle" that also highlighted the need for the LGBTQ community to remain united as drag queens and transgender individuals come under attack.

"Last week's debacle underscores the dangerous impact of political tactics by those who seek to stoke the flames of anti-LGBTQ bias at a time when our rights are under attack. We must continue to stand together as a community in defense of the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ people in Los Angeles and beyond," stated Hollendoner, a gay man who formerly led the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

"The Dodgers' course correction and the conversations we have had with the organization's leadership since last week demonstrates the version of allyship we have come to expect from the team over the years," he added. "The center will always strive to hold our corporate partners accountable — which means so much more than waving a rainbow flag."

After the Dodgers reinvited the Sisters, Rubio wrote on Twitter that "our great country is controlled by socio-political ruling elites who don't just tolerate anti-Christian bigotry, they encourage & celebrate it."

He was followed by none other than Salvatore Cordileone, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, who wrote on Twitter, "Our Catholic sisters devote themselves to serving others selflessly. Decent people would not mock & blaspheme them. So we now know what gods the Dodger admin worships. Open desecration & anti-Catholicism is not disqualifying. Disappointing but not surprising. Gird your loins."

The archdiocese did not return a request for comment about the Giants' Pride Night by press time.

Gay softball league anniversary

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Gay Softball League — celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — had told the B.A.R. that it was expecting to be a part of this year's Giants Pride festivities.

Orlando Diaz, a gay man who is the softball league's director of business development, told the B.A.R. in a March report that while details were in the works, "we're definitely going to be a big part of their [the Giants'] Pride night."

According to Steven Bracco, a gay man who is the director of communications for the league's board, the league hasn't "received any more details from the Giants" as of May 23.

Daum reiterated to the B.A.R. that more details will be announced soon.

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