The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pride Night arrived on Friday, with the protester and police presence you would expect after weeks of controversy stirred up around the guests invited to the event.
The Dodgers received criticism from Catholic and conservative figures when they announced they would be giving an award to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of people who dress in drag as nuns who were among the first people to offer support to AIDS patients at a time when such help was severely lacking.
The team reacted to the backlash by uninviting the Sisters from Pride Night, leading to an opposing backlash from its other Pride Night partners. It eventually apologized and re-invited the Sisters, drawing further condemnation from the likes of former vice president Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Many, including the Dodgers’ longtime ace Clayton Kershaw, criticized the Sisters for supposedly mocking Catholicism by dressing up as nuns, which the organization does as a protest against the church’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.
The end result of the controversy was a “prayerful procession” held at a parking lot outside Dodger Stadium before the Pride Night game, which ended up shutting down the main gate into the stadium.
A similar, but smaller scene played out two years ago when anti-vaccination protesters targeted the team’s mass vaccination site in 2021.
The actual content of the protest was reportedly muddled, rather than be a straight condemnation of the Sisters’ method of protest. Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys were reportedly in attendance, while two attendees told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle they didn’t know if they were protesting the Sisters, the Pride Night or both. Among the statements thrown out on the megaphone were “You either have a penis or a vagina” and “Stay away from our kids.”
Alex Villanueva, a former Los Angeles county sheriff ousted last election after a litany of scandals, was among the speakers.
There was a heavy police presence around the whole scene, as well as on the field, where the Dodgers presented the Sisters their award in front of a mostly empty stadium around an hour before first pitch.
Speaking with reporters before the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spoke in support of the Pride Night, per The Athletic:
“For me, this is an existential question for me,” Roberts said Friday, donning a Pride-themed Dodgers hat. “It’s a big, overarching kind of question in the sense that my parents raised me to love everyone. To respect everyone. Treat people the way that you would want to be treated. We’re not always going to agree on everyone’s decisions in life. That’s the way the world works. And that’s okay. I do think that we should still all be able to coexist.
“For me, it just always goes back to loving everyone, and as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a baseball team, I welcome – we welcome anyone that comes through these gates to support our ballclub.”
Roberts mentioned the Dodgers players “have had conversations” about the event, while San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he and many of his players were “very proud to be wearing pride colors tonight.”