Dodgers, Bowing to Pressure, Re-Invite ‘Blasphemous’ Drag Troupe to Team’s Pride Night Celebration

The flip-flop by the Dodgers drew as much, if not more, acrimony from those who complained about the group in the first place.

AP/Richard Vogel, file
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence show their support during a gay pride parade at West Hollywood, California, on June 12, 2016. AP/Richard Vogel, file

The Los Angeles Dodgers have — wittingly or unwittingly — become the latest iconic American brand sucked into the culture wars after the team reversed a decision to exclude a satirical troupe of drag queens from its annual pride night after complaints from some Catholics about the group’s “blasphemous” performances.

In a statement released late Monday, the team apologized to the San Francisco-based Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a self-described group of “queer and trans nuns” who incorporate religious imagery and symbols into their performances — as well as members of the LGBT community in Los Angeles, saying it was re-issuing an earlier invitation that was rescinded last week following the complaints.

The statement said the team came to its decision following “much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities,” and that the sisters have “agreed to receive the gratitude of our collective communities for the lifesaving work that they have done tirelessly for decades.

“In the weeks ahead, we will continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to better educate ourselves, find ways to strengthen the ties that bind and use our platform to support all of our fans who make up the diversity of the Dodgers family,” the team said.

Last week, after complaints from everyone from Senator Rubio of Florida to the Catholic League, the team said it had reversed a decision to give the Sisters a Community Hero Award during its 10th annual Pride Night on June 16. “Given the strong feelings of those who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the 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.

The announcement came after Mr. Rubio wrote to the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, questioning the Dodgers’ decision to include the sisters in its programming. He cited the group’s “blasphemous imitation of Jesus and Mary” in drag performances, its pub crawls “mocking the stations of the cross,” and its Easter ceremonies featuring drag shows for children and men who dress in “lewd imitations of Roman Catholic nuns” as being unworthy of any honors.   

“Major League Baseball, as a private organization in a free country, can give awards to whatever groups it chooses, no matter how loathsome,” Mr. Rubio’s letter stated. “But baseball has always been tied to our nation’s values, at the heart of which is faith in God. It would be an outrage and a tragedy if the MLB, in pursuit of modern, secular, and indeed anti-religious ‘values,’ rebuked that faith and the millions of believing fans who cherish the sport.”

After the team announced its decision to exclude the sisters, all hell broke loose in Los Angeles’ LGBT community. Several groups immediately pulled out of the evening’s events in protest, and civil rights groups lambasted the team. “Buckling to pressure from out-of-state, right-wing fundamentalists, the Dodgers caved to a religious minority that is perpetuating a false narrative about LGBTQ+ people,” the Los Angeles LGBT Center said in a lengthy statement. The team, it said, is contributing to “ongoing, anti-LGBTQ smear campaign happening in this country.”

Founded in 1979, the Sisters describe themselves as a group devoted to community service, ministry, and other charitable work among the downtrodden of San Francisco. The group, according to its website, uses “humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

Monday’s flip-flop by the Dodgers drew as much, if not more, acrimony from those who complained about the group in the first place. The head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, one of the groups that expressed anger last week, said he was doubtful that any Catholics were consulted during the “honest conversations” that the Dodgers’ president and CEO, Stan Kasten, conducted before announcing the reversal.

“Only one side was listened to — the side that sponsors hate speech,” Mr. Donohue said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “The fact that gay and trans leaders agree with the vulgar anti-Catholic rhetoric and behavior of the ‘Sisters’ means they now have no moral leg to stand on when asking for an end to bigotry against them.”

In a tweet Monday night, Mr. Rubio added: “Today our great country is controlled by socio-political ruling elites who don’t just tolerate anti-Christian bigotry, they encourage & celebrate it.”

The New York Sun

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