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L.A. Dodgers re-invite drag nun group to Pride event after massive backlash

Portland, Oregon, USA - June 16, 2019: Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in Portland's 2019 Pride Parade.
A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Photo: Shutterstock

The L.A. Dodgers baseball team has reversed its decision to disinvite the “drag nun” activist group, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, from its 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night, scheduled for June 16. The group has reportedly accepted the team’s apology and invitation to rejoin the event.

The Major League Baseball team initially planned to honor the Sisters with the Dodgers’ Community Hero Award for their decades of fundraising and activism for various causes like HIV/AIDS healthcare, violence prevention, and other LGBTQ+ community efforts.

However, the team withdrew the honor after anti-LGBTQ+ Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Catholic groups complained and accused the Sisters of mocking their religion. The withdrawal lead to widespread scorn and condemnation from the Sisters, the local ACLU affiliate, drag star Trixie Mattel, gay actor Wilson Cruz, and many others. The L.A. LGBT Center told the Dodgers to cancel the event. The L.A. LGBT Center, L.A. Pride, and the local ACLU affiliate all withdrew from the event.

In a statement released via Twitter on Monday night, the MLB team wrote, “After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities honest conversations with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, and generous discussions with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their friends and families.”

“We have asked the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 16. We are pleased to share that they have agreed to receive the gratitude of our collective communities for the life-saving work that they have done tirelessly for decades,” the statement continued.

“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 statement concluded.

L.A. Pride has reportedly decided to rejoin the event now that the Sisters have been re-invited.

The Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence responded via social media, “A full apology and explanation was given to us by the Dodgers staff, which we accept. We believe the apology is sincere because the Dodgers have worked for 10 years with our community and as well as have asked us to continue an ongoing relationship with them.”

Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten reportedly met Monday morning with local Sister Dominia and Sister Bearonce Knows. The Sisters were joined by other LGBTQ+ community members as well as government officials from the state Legislature, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles County,

The Sisters wrote that “if similar pressures from outside our community arise” in the future, the Dodgers and Sisters “will consult and assist each other in responding, alongside our colleagues at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and others from the LGBTQIA2S community, now more closely tied with the L.A. Dodgers than ever before.”

In a statement about the apology, the L.A. LGBT Center wrote, “Today’s decision by the Dodgers to publicly apologize to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and roll back their exclusion from next month’s Pride Night is a step in the right direction, and we support the Sisters’ vote to accept their much-deserved Community Hero Award.”

“Last week’s debacle underscores the dangerous impact of political tactics by those who seek to stoke the flames of anti-LGBTQ bias at a time when our rights are under attack,” the statement continued. “We must continue to stand together as a community in defense of the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ people in Los Angeles and beyond.”

“The Dodgers’ course correction and the conversations we have had with the organization’s leadership since last week demonstrates the version of allyship we have come to expect from the team over the years. The Center will always strive to hold our corporate partners accountable—which means so much more than waving a rainbow flag,” the statement concluded.

Founded in 1979 in San Francisco, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have grown into an international network of “orders” 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 mission statement.

After the Dodgers initially dropped the group from its Pride Night, Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken condemned the team and invited the group to join her for a different celebration.

“I think it was a missed opportunity to really err on the side of being inclusive and err on the side of standing up for our marginalized communities, especially on the eve of Harvey Milk Day. Especially on the eve of Pride Month,” she said.

In a statement condemning their exclusion by the Dodgers, the Sisters emphasized that they are “not anti-Catholic, but an organization based on love, acceptance, and celebrating human diversity.” The group’s members dress as nuns to counteract the Catholic Church’s rejection of LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized individuals, especially during the HIV epidemic, a time during which the Sisters ministered and fundraised for the sick. More recently, the Sisterhood has worked to address homelessness, especially among transgender youth.

The Dodgers’ initial rescinding of the Sisters’ honor seemed especially disappointing at a time when the national LGBTQ+ community and drag performers, in particular, have been falsely accused of “grooming,” sexualizing,” and abusing children. Several states have recently passed laws reclassifying drag as “adult performers” in order to ban children from viewing any drag performances, including ones that are suitable for all ages.

The Sister’s statement also called out the irony of being condemned by the Catholic Church. “It is a statistical fact that children are at less risk in the company of drag queens than clergy,” their statement accurately noted.

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