Dodgers lost meaning, purpose of Pride Night in caving to culture war pressure

Some questions for the Los Angeles Dodgers:

What happens next year if a group and out-of-state senator complain that the team is even acknowledging the LGBTQ+ community with a Pride Night? Will they cancel the event altogether?

What happens in two or three years if a group and an out-of-state senator complain that the team acknowledges the pioneering Jackie Robinson and highlights the racism he experienced while playing, alleging that it is "critical race theory"? Will the Dodgers stop recognizing Robinson?

The Dodgers folded like a house of cards in a light breeze this week when conservative political Catholic groups and an opportunistic Florida politician complained that the baseball team was honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for decades of good deeds. What's to stop the next odious group from getting the organization to abandon its decisions?

The Dodgers have opened the door for anyone to step up, make a minor fuss and get their stance supported, no matter how disgraceful or faulty the reason. They can't now be surprised if a clown car's worth of crying zealots comes rolling through.

Great job. Really.

As part of this year's annual Pride Night on June 16, the Dodgers were set to honor the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for its years of community service. The Sisters are a 44-year-old satirical group that dresses in nun's habits as they minister to, in the group's own words, "those on the edges" of society. They first appeared in San Francisco in 1979 and began caring for gay men with HIV/AIDS at a time when very few would. Since then, SPI chapters across the country and around the world have continued to work throughout their communities to help those most in need. They are about inclusion and spreading campy joy wherever they go.

The Dodgers are scheduled to hold a Pride Night on June 16 at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Dodgers are scheduled to hold a Pride Night on June 16 at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) must have felt like he needed to grab the sectarian spotlight back from others in his party who have been fighting culture wars against the LGBTQ+ community. Rubio and the group CatholicVote — the president of which called the Sisters a "hate group," which is objectively false — denounced the Dodgers for honoring the Sisters. In a letter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Rubio said he opposed the group because it "mocks Christians through diabolical parodies of our faith."

The team caved to those howls and is rescinding the Sisters' award, audaciously using the phrase "spirit of unity" and saying "we are removing [the Sisters] from this year's group of honorees" in the same pathetic social media statement.

And now that there is an outcry about the Dodgers' embarrassing capitulation, with multiple LGBTQ+ groups saying they won't attend the team's Pride Night due to its treatment of the Sisters, the Dodgers are scrambling, reportedly trying to find a compromise.

Compromise how? You cannot be tolerant of the intolerant, and the team already failed that test.

The Dodgers can't reinvite the Sisters after this. Well, they could try, but if the Sisters' response were to lift the hems of their habits and show the Dodgers their behinds, no one could really blame them.

Some of us are terrified by the speed at which human rights are being stripped away from Americans who are just trying to live, whether at a drag brunch or as a drag performer, or for pregnant people who do not want to be pregnant for whatever their personal reasons, or for Black or Muslim or Native American people who want their children to be able to read books with characters who look like them and tell the stories of their ancestors.

A big part of the reason these things are happening so quickly is because of organizations like the Dodgers giving in at the slightest sign of complaint or discomfort and prioritizing the objections of the intolerant over standing in support of the oppressed.

What is the point of having a Pride Night if you aren't going to go all-in? Its very essence is supposed to be inclusion, creating a welcoming atmosphere — or at least the illusion of one; looking at you, myriad NHL teams — for those who far too often have been told they don't belong.

The Dodgers want credit for celebrating Pride, but this week they showed that they aren't committed to the cause of uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, which chooses a rainbow as its symbol for a reason: because members of the community come in many metaphorical colors.

You cannot say you want to celebrate Pride and then pick and choose which LGBTQ+ groups are acceptable.

Or, as the San Francisco Sisters wrote in condemning the Dodgers' decision, "Do not let people who hate us all decide that some parts of our community are more tolerable than others, that some shall be seated at the table while others are locked out."