Bowing to pressure from conservatives including Sen. Marco Rubio, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Wednesday that they had uninvited an LGBTQ charity and drag performance group from participation in their annual Pride Night. The organization, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, is an order of “queer and trans nuns” devoted to “community service, ministry, and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity, and spiritual enlightenment,” according to their self-description.
Known for their campy, gender-fluid religious costumes and demonstrations, the Sisters have scandalized Catholics almost from the moment of their inception in 1979. In the Dodgers’ statement, the baseball team alluded to “people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening,” and said that the decision to drop them was made “in an effort not to distract from the great benefits” of the Pride event. The Dodgers’ senior director of public relations declined to comment further.
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Earlier this week, Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, arguing that by honoring “a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians” with a “Community Hero Award,” the Dodgers were not “inclusive and welcoming to everyone,” as Manfred has said the league should strive to be. He further accused the team of promoting a “woke far-left anti-Catholic agenda.” Conservative outlets such as the New York Post and Fox News also framed the Sisters as anti-Catholic activists — but since their founding, the group has raised well over a million dollars for nonprofits serving communities in need, and has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS activism as well as safe sex campaigns. Rubio took a victory lap after they were cut from the Dodgers’ Pride Night, tweeting, “For once, common sense prevailed in California.”
Sent a letter to @MLB Commissioner Manfred regarding the @Dodgers’ decision to promote a woke far-left anti-Catholic agenda.
Drag queen performers should NOT be celebrated for their disgraceful imitation of Roman Catholic nuns.https://t.co/GV6NHlW6yw pic.twitter.com/8rHot8n7pD
— Senator Marco Rubio (@SenMarcoRubio) May 15, 2023
For once, common sense prevailed in California. https://t.co/JAKVjIQdzi
— Senator Marco Rubio (@SenMarcoRubio) May 17, 2023
The Sisters’ Los Angeles Mission, established in 1995, released a statement that said they were “sad to learn the Los Angeles Dodgers have chosen to rescind their award, succumbing to pressure from persons outside of the State of California and outside of our community.” They reaffirmed that their “mission is to uplift our community and all marginalized groups, especially the ones ignored by larger organizations,” noting that the group is “both silly and serious,” using “flamboyance in service to our charity work.”
The statement continued: “We wish to point out that though our LGBTQIA community is currently being assailed by a small group of extremists attempting to roll back society’s progress, they are a tiny minority and do not represent the majority of Americans’ commitment to a country that lives side by side in our great melting pot.” The L.A. mission added that their work speaks for itself and is not done in the interest of “awards or accolades,” but “removing suffering and promulgating joy.”
Although the objections to the Sisters’ inclusion at Pride Night were couched in terms of religious tolerance, it hardly seems coincidental that the group was singled out at a time when the American right has sought to vilify transgender people and drag performances as threats to children and traditional values. (In their response, the Sisters clarified that while their membership is not exclusively trans and encompasses all genders, they “unequivocally support the rights of transgender people.”)
Sister Roma, a drag queen activist who has been with the Sisters since the late 1980s, accused the Dodgers of caving to “pseudo-Christian homophobes,” saying that the “weaponizing of religion is exactly what [the Sisters] have been protesting for decades.” Replying to that tweet, Honey Mahogany, a star of RuPaul’s Drag Race who in 2021 became the first Black and trans chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, wondered, “why even bother having a Pride night if you’re going to cave to voices of anti-lgbtq hate.”
Boooooooooooo!!!! Boo! 💯🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 thank you @LADragnuns & @SFSisters for fighting on behalf of all of us against shame and promulgating joy, love, and being of service. Booooo @Dodgers – why even bother having a Pride night if you’re going to cave to voices of anti-lgbtq hate.
— Honey Mahogany (@honeymahogany) May 17, 2023
The Dodgers’ Pride Night on June 16 — which was unlikely to be attended by homophobes and transphobes in the first place — marks their 10th anniversary of the event, and will feature singer David Archuleta performing the national anthem. Married former tennis players Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, who have a minority stake in the Dodgers, are also to take part in the festivities.
But on Thursday, one participating organization, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, announced that it would withdraw in protest of the Dodgers’ decision to remove the Sisters from the evening’s program. The community service organization further demanded that the team cancel their Pride Night altogether unless the Sisters were allowed to take part as originally planned. “Any organization that turns its back on LGBTQ+ people at this damning and dangerous inflection point in our nation’s history should not be hoisting a rainbow flag or hosting a ‘Pride Night,’” said the center’s CEO, Joe Hollendoner. “We want the Dodgers’ allyship to be consistent with our experience partnering with them over the past years.”
It’s unclear whether the team will choose a different recipient for this year’s Community Hero Award now that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have been stripped of the honor. But one thing’s for sure: The Dodgers are going to sell plenty of hats with rainbow logos.
UPDATE: This article was updated at 4:37 ET, May 18, to include the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s comments.
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