Editorial: Los Angeles Dodgers get a save

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday May 24, 2023
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The Los Angeles Dodgers have reinvited the L.A. chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the team's annual Pride Night game June 16. Photo: Courtesy KTLA-TV
The Los Angeles Dodgers have reinvited the L.A. chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the team's annual Pride Night game June 16. Photo: Courtesy KTLA-TV

Like a thrilling baseball contest that goes down to the ninth inning, a team that is only a couple of runs ahead needs a pitcher who can save the game, preferably with a wicked fastball. This week, the Los Angeles Dodgers saved their reputation — or at least minimized the damage — after an unforced error team executives made May 17 when they disinvited the L.A. chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their June 16 Pride Night game against the San Francisco Giants. On Monday, the team formally apologized and reinvited the Sisters to the game, and the Sisters accepted.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have been a mainstay in LGBTQ culture since they made their first appearance on Easter Sunday in San Francisco in 1979. Since then, the group has established orders all over the world, including Los Angeles, where that chapter was set to receive a Community Hero Award during a pregame ceremony from the Dodgers for all the work it has done raising funds for charity and highlighting awareness of drag and LGBTQ life.

It was the San Francisco Sisters who produced one of the first safer sex pamphlets in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. In short, they promote a serious message of acceptance, equality, and staying healthy while having a lot of fun doing it and raising money to help other queer groups. Everyone likes the Sisters, except, that is, the Catholic Church.

Indeed, it was Catholic organizations that raised a ruckus with the Dodgers, leading the team to disinvite the drag nuns. Both the Catholic League and CatholicVote protested, along with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred complaining about the Dodgers inviting the Sisters and writing that the group mocks Christianity. Rubio was seconded by San Francisco's own Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Rubio also made reference to the Sisters dressing in "lewd imitation" of nuns.

And there you have it — conservatives once again trying to equate drag with lewdness, just like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) did by signing a law banning children from attending drag shows. (By the time you read this, DeSantis likely will have formally declared himself a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.) Drag is a culture of its own, playfully satirizing all sorts of institutions, religious and otherwise. That's free speech.

Of course, a backlash quickly ensued. The Los Angeles LGBT Center and LA Pride, which collaborates with the Dodgers on Pride Night, threatened to pull out of the event. After the team's reversal, LA Pride is again working with the Dodgers on the event. The Dodgers' statement indicates that the organization had heard the criticism of its initial action.

"The 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 Dodgers said in a statement. "We have asked the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night."

The Southern California LGBTQ organizations weren't the only groups condemning the Dodgers. L.A. City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, wrote on Twitter: "Los Angeles must be a place where everyone feels empowered to express themselves, and this move undermines that." Thirty-nine members of the L.A. state legislative delegation expressed support, stating that the values espoused by the Sisters — diversity, inclusion, and promoting human rights — "should be celebrated, not suppressed," as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Not to be outdone, Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken tweeted last weekend that she was inviting the Sisters to be her guests at the Angels Pride Night on June 7; so now it appears that the Sisters will be guests at two Pride Nights instead of one. How fitting.

Suffice it to say that had it not been for the condemnation by LGBTQ organizations and activists, political leaders, opinion columnists, and many others, the Dodgers probably would not have reversed course. There was no excuse for the Dodgers' initial action, and we're glad the team recognized its mistake. By now, these Pride games in major professional sports, which have been taking place for years, are a no-brainer.

There is a gay history with the Dodgers, though it's not a pretty one. The team traded gay baseball player Glenn Burke in the early 1970s, after he became friends with then-manager Tommy Lasorda's gay son, Tommy Lasorda Jr., who died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, though his father denied it at the time, as Poz magazine reported in a 2021 article. Burke was traded to the Oakland A's, where his homosexuality was an open secret before he retired from the sport and came out publicly in 1982. He died of AIDS-related complications in 1995. Today, there are still no active professional baseball players at the major league level who are out of the closet.

Overall, we're glad the Dodgers did the right thing, but they shouldn't have rescinded the invitation in the first place.

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