Dodgers pull drag group from Pride Night after conservative backlash

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that it has rescinded its invitation to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the team's upcoming Pride Night following conservative pushback. The move comes as multiple states attempt to pass anti-drag legislation, prompting outcry from LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations.

The Dodgers' 10th Pride Night, which is scheduled to take place on June 16, will feature a night of LGBTQ+ programming attended by a number of different groups, and is meant to highlight "diversity and resilience" within the Dodgers fan base — as well as "the impactful work of extraordinary community groups," according to the team.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1979 at the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S., were originally among the organizations set to attend the game and receive a Community Hero Award.

"We are an Order of 30th Century Nuns dedicated to the promulgation of universal joy and the expiation of stigmatic guilt. Our ministry is one of public manifestation and habitual perpetration," reads the site for the Los Angeles chapter of the group — which is known for both its activist work and drag depictions of Catholic nuns.

In a statement posted on Wednesday to Twitter, the Dodgers wrote that the inclusion of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had been "the source of some controversy."

"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 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," continued the Dodgers' Twitter statement.

Several conservative groups, and even Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, had criticized the Sisters' inclusion.

On Monday, Rubio sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, accusing the Dodgers of promoting a "woke far-left anti-Catholic agenda."

"Major League Baseball, as a private organization in a free country, can give awards to whatever groups it chooses, no matter how loathsome," Rubio wrote. "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."

The inclusion of the Sisters on Pride Night also drew the ire of The Catholic League, a Christian organization that has in the past railed against "The Golden Compass" movie, Nicki Minaj's 2012 Grammy performance and the use of the word "Holidays" on one of George W. Bush's White House Christmas cards as being anti-Catholic.

"The Catholic League has been the leading critic of this bigoted organization for many decades," said Catholic League President Bill Donohue on the organization's website.

When the Dodgers announced it would no longer host the Sisters, the league wrote, "Justice was done in the end. There is no room for anti-Catholic bigotry in any gay or trans celebratory event."

Sister Ida of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attends Women's March San Diego on January 19, 2019 in San Diego, California. / Credit: Daniel Knighton / Getty Images
Sister Ida of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attends Women's March San Diego on January 19, 2019 in San Diego, California. / Credit: Daniel Knighton / Getty Images

The Dodgers' Wednesday announcement was met again with backlash, as people criticized the team's decision to cave to pressure from outside groups, who they felt were misrepresenting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's work.

The Sisters wrote on Facebook, "We are 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. We are disappointed they have chose to un-ally themselves with us in their ongoing service to the public."

"Our work speaks for us. We do not serve to receive awards or accolades," the statement concluded.

Sister Roma, a longtime member of the group, tweeted, "So disappointing to see the [Dodgers] cave to the conservative pseudo-Christian homophobes. This weaponizing of religion is exactly what the [LA Drag Nuns] and [SF Sisters] have been protesting for decades." 

In response to the Dodgers announcement, one Twitter user replied, "I've been a fan since [1981], and I've sat through a whole lot of stuff you guys have promoted that was offensive to ME, but I knew was important to others. I'm very disappointed in this organization today."

Drag superstar Aquaria wrote, "This is such a disappointment."

"At a moment in time when drag performers are under attack across the country — including in state legislatures and in some cases needing armed escorts to protect them from far-right extremists — the Dodgers' actions are disappointing and let down thousands of LGBTQ+ fans that have supported them throughout the years," said Executive Director of LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality California, Tony Hoang.

Local politicians also condemned the choice, with Los Angeles County Supervisor, Lindsey P. Horvath writing on Twitter, "If they're not invited, I'm not going. Celebrating Pride is about inclusion. Do better."

Additionally, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has removed itself from the event. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Center also called on the Dodgers to cancel its Pride Night entirely "unless they rectify this error."

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