The Los Angeles Dodgers sparked controversy and heated debate Wednesday when the team disinvited an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, which is known for its members dressing in drag as nuns, from its 10th annual Pride Night.
Now, Long Beach’s Rep. Robert Garcia is calling for the LGBTQ+ community to boycott the June 16 event.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which first made its appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday in 1979, was supposed to be honored with the team’s Community Hero Award in a pregame ceremony for its work for the queer community. Due to pushback from conservative politicians and Catholic organizations, however, the baseball team rescinded its invitation.
“At a time when the Dodgers should be embracing the strength of our diversity, they are instead trying to divide our LGBTQ+ community,” Garcia, the former Long Beach mayor, said in a statement. “Los Angeles is better than this cowardice and deserves better from the Dodgers. Our community should boycott this ‘pride night’ and protest this decision. We’ll see if they choose to be on the right side of history.”
Hey @Dodgers, this is shameful and you will not divide and separate our community. I hope we all boycott your “pride night” and protest this cowardly decision. https://t.co/xREr9oS6m3— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) May 18, 2023
Whether spurred by Garcia or not, other LGBTQ+ organizations are standing with the sisters, including LA Pride and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which both announced they will not participate in the Dodgers’ event. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California also condemned the decision.
May 19, 2023
“The Dodgers, which broke the color line in baseball in 1947 by signing Jackie Robinson, were champions of inclusion,” the ACLU of Southern California tweeted Wednesday night. “Seventy-six years later, they take a giant step backward banning a long-standing drag charity.”
The Dodgers, which broke the color line in baseball in 1947 by signing Jackie Robinson, were champions of inclusion.— ACLU SoCal (@ACLU_SoCal) May 18, 2023
Seventy-six years later, they take a giant step backward banning a long-standing drag charity. In unity with @SFSisters, we will not participate in Pride Night. https://t.co/BXQEtHC4zR
For over four decades, the charity, protest and performance nonprofit has raised over $1 million for various organizations, especially “ progressive projects that promote wellness, identity, tolerance and diversity within our communities,” according to the group’s website. The sisters award grants between $250 and $1,000.
Religious organizations for years have chastised the sisters, who adorn themselves in nun habits and dramatic facial makeup. Brian Burch, president of the Catholic advocacy organization CatholicVote, went as far as calling the sisters a hate group before the Dodgers walked back their decision.
“No other religion would be treated this way—and if the Dodgers truly care about fighting bigotry and promoting inclusivity, they will retract their invite to this disgusting, offensive and dangerous hate group,” Burch said in a statement.
R.M Vierling, a Catholic priest with a large social media following, tweeted that he wrote the Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, stating that the inclusion of the sisters is an “outrageous insult” to Catholics. Florida Senator Marco Rubio also sent a letter protesting the Dodgers’ decision to honor the charity group.
“I write to ask whether your League wants to be ‘inclusive and welcoming’ to Christians,” Rubio wrote, “and if so, why you are allowing an MLB team to honor a group that mocks Christians through diabolical parodies of our faith.”
Ultimately, the baseball organization caved to the conservative pressure.
“Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees,” the team said in a statement.
The original San Francisco chapter of the nonprofit said the Dodgers’ decision was “offensive and outrageous.” The May 18 statement went on to note the group’s charitable works, raising thousands of dollars each year, and its fight against intolerance. The group was born as a response to the AIDS crisis at a time when religion and family abandoned gay men, the group wrote.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence supports other groups, including “several mainstream churches,” the group stated, noting that sisters are “regularly called upon to minister to the sick, the dying, and the mourning.”
“Our ministry is real,” Sister Rosie Patridge said in the statement. “We promulgate universal joy, expiate stigmatic guilt, and our use of religious trappings is a response to those faiths whose members could condemn us and seek to strip away the rights of marginalized communities.”