Pride Month: You Can’t Have Baseball Without ‘All’

Fury over celebration of LGBTQ+ community shows narrow-mindedness.

I am a straight white man.

Because of that, I have privileges that took me a long time to realize I had. I grew up in Wisconsin, a very conservative state without much diversity. There was one Black kid in my high school. Not my class, my school of 1,400 students. There were stories, true or not, of older Wisconsinites who not only hadn’t left the state in their entire lives, but stayed within the borders of their county. Not just a year, but decades.

So I wasn’t very aware of the inequities that plagued groups of people constantly battling discrimination. However, I was also a child of television. And because of that, I always watched the news in addition to reading the newspaper. It was in my family blood as one of my grandfathers had a journalism career. Back then, there were three channels and you had an antenna on your TV to pull in the programming. TV news wasn’t like it is now. National news was on once a day at 5:30 p.m., with local news immediately following and then again at 10 p.m.

It helped pave a way for my own career in journalism. It was through that I learned to understand diversity and that our differences made the United States a great country that is admired worldwide.

Politics over the last eight years have torn the United States apart, exposing the bias and hatred many have always had but only recently have felt comfortable enough expressing publicly after emerging from the shadows.

But then there are those who have public platforms to make vile or insensitive statements. Usually, religion is cited as their shield.

You already know what I am talking about. It has to do with Pride Month, which is this month, June. Generally, there are the negative reactions whenever a sports team acknowledges Pride Month, changes their social media profile picture and holds a night to honor the LGBTQ+ community. The bigots come out and most of them look like me. Straight white men.

This year has been a little different though. Not in a good way. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to receive a Community Hero Award on the team’s Pride Night, June 16. Seems fitting, right? Well, some higher powers got involved — and we aren’t talking about the man above.

One was a senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, who wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that questioned whether the Dodgers and the league were being “inclusive and welcoming” to Christians by honoring the Los Angeles branch of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Who are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? The Sisters call themselves “a leading-edge Order of queer and trans nuns” with the mission of “community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.” The group came into existence in San Francisco on Easter Sunday 1979, with members dressing as nuns and using “humor and irreverent wit.”

In more simple terms, I would consider them a force of good in the community with a comedic twist. Not that comedy is the overriding characteristic. No, instead, the Sisters provide support for the LGBTQ+ community and were of particular importance during the AIDS crisis. And yes, they dress as nuns, which seems to be the particular sticking point of those opposed to the group.

But they aren’t necessarily mocking religion. Do drag queens mock women? I have never heard that argument. So the fact that the Sisters use a humorous take on religion to create a bigger, more recognizable identity should not be considered offensive. Some real-life nuns are OK with the Sisters.

“The choice of clothing, even if offensive to some, can never trump the works of mercy,” Sister Jeannine Gramick wrote in a letter published by the Washington Post. “Just as I have great respect for Catholic nuns because of their compassion and good works over the centuries, I applaud the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their financial assistance to those in need. I support them because of all their good works. I believe that any group that serves the community, especially those who are less fortunate or on the margins of society, should be honored.”

Others are not. And that is OK. We as a society don’t have agree on everything, especially those having to deal with politics and religion. But for those who are some of the loudest voices against Pride Month in general and MLB teams having a Pride Night, there is a mix of ignorance, bigotry and politics involved.

And those are some of the reasons many around us don’t come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. They could be your neighbor, your co-worker, a close friend or even a family member. Maybe it was the person running the cash register at the grocery store or the barista at your favorite coffee shop.

That is the reason why it was major news when Carl Nassib came out as the first active gay NFL player. There has never been an active gay MLB player, although Glenn Burke and Billy Bean came out after they retired. Only a couple players in the minors have come out as gay. According to a Gallup poll last year, 7.2% of Americans identify as LGBTQ+. So the chances that there are more than zero gay MLB players among the 1,200 on 40-man rosters is great. In fact, applying that 7.2% would mean there are 86 gay players in MLB, just more than two full 40-man rosters.

So when players such as Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams says he is “deeply troubled” by the Sisters being re-invited to the Dodgers’ Pride Night, how many teammates is he offending? Sports locker rooms and clubhouses are a unique mix of cultures. Talent is found from many countries outside the U.S., from players with diverse backgrounds.

Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw, long the face of the Dodgers, also took exception to the Sisters being honored and helped bring back Christian Faith and Family Day to Dodger Stadium. It had been an annual day until the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that.”

Again, the Sisters aren’t “making fun” of Catholics. Does the Easter Bunny detract from what is the true meaning of Easter? How about Santa Claus and Christmas? Protesting those figures is very unlikely. Don’t those characters bring more awareness to those days and what they mean?

I am not religious, but I feel I at least have an understanding of religion. There is more than one religion, yet all seem to have roots in a similar story. That isn’t the point here, though. Christianity is the focus of this subject because those voicing their displeasure call themselves Christians, which means they follow the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Looking for a smart analysis of what the Bible says on this, I came across a passage from the Human Rights Commission: “As New Testament Scholar Daniel Kirk has pointed out, Christians today would do well by the tradition of the apostles and our current witness in the world to recognize that theological abstractions aside, God has already clearly embraced LGBTQ+ people into full communion, and it is now the church’s responsibility to simply honor that reality and rejoice (Luke 15).”

MLB has embraced an advertising campaign with the tagline “Jesus gets us.” The ads are not only in commercial breaks, but in the electronic boards right behind home plate in plain view of TV cameras.

Each day brings new obstacles for those still trying to gain acceptance in everyday roles. American women used to not be able to vote. Black people were slaves and were considered one-third of a person despite the U.S. Constitution saying “all men are created equal.” So the struggle is very real for members of the LGBTQ+ community on a daily basis to gain acceptance and be treated as an equal.

Despite the negative forces trying to oppress them, no one will stop Pride Month celebrations. These folks know how to party and will do it with as much flair as possible. If you haven’t seen it in person, it is fabulous.

Just like women finally being given the right to vote and an end was brought to slavery, the fight continues. Women still struggle to be treated as equals at home and work despite females bearing a greater importance on society. Men can’t have kids and many run away when their mate is expecting. Same for Black people. The remnants of slavery are witnessed every day. Racism is prevalent.

And it is because of straight white men like me.

We have to evolve and become a more accepting society. You don’t decide you are lesbian or gay or bisexual or trans or queer. Gender dysphoria is real. Your religion might lead you down a path of hatred or not accepting people for who they are. My very over-simplistic take on religion, Christianity in particular, is that we are to be accepting of those around us. I try to understand people before assessing what type of person they are.

Prejudice and hatred by adults against the LGBTQ+ community comes because of a lack of information and an unwillingness to learn and understand. Hiding behind religion, with beliefs founded and written thousands of years ago and adhered to now like it was breaking news, is just an excuse. And our kids are watching. They pattern themselves after their parents. It’s only natural.

How do we diminish this? It feels like we as a society, specifically a baseball society when it comes to a team’s Pride Night, could use an MLB player coming out as gay. But it won’t be easy. As much vitriol as there as been about the subject in recent weeks, there will be more directed at the individual player when it does happen. I wouldn’t wish that bigotry and hate on anyone. However, just think of the conversations that will go on not only in clubhouses throughout baseball, but in households across the country.

If you don’t like Pride Night, don’t go. There are 80 other home games for your favorite MLB team. Maybe there is a Christian Faith and Family Day like the Dodgers are holding. That’s OK.

But don’t spew hateful words. You don’t know who around you is being affected. Could be someone at work, at the store or even in your family who might be afraid to express their true feelings because of your actions. It doesn’t mean they will always be secretive, but it could lead to unintended consequences, some irreversible.

Be kind. Baseball is for all. That includes the LGBTQ+ community. And that is coming from a straight white man.

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

One response to “Pride Month: You Can’t Have Baseball Without ‘All’”

  1. Jake Wilson says:

    While there are positives to the actions the sisters have taken, saying they have done nothing to make fun of religion because they only dress as nuns is grossly inaccurate. You may want to do a little more research on their events before writing an article with this perspective.

Account / Login