Caving to pressure from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Catholic groups, the L.A. Dodgers have canceled an appearance by a group of drag performers at an upcoming Pride event.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a non-profit LGBTQ+ group of performers and activists who dress as campy nuns, were initially scheduled to receive the Dodgers’ Community Hero Award at the team’s annual Pride Night on June 16. Founded in 1979 in San Francisco, the group has 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.
But their inclusion in the Dodgers event sparked outrage from Catholics, including Rubio, who claim that the group makes a mockery of their religion.
A May 15 press release from Rubio’s office described The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “an anti-Catholic group.”
“Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being ‘inclusive and welcoming to everyone’ by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians?” Rubio wrote in a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred about the event. “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.”
On Tuesday, Catholic League president Bill Donohue compared the group to white people performing in blackface in a statement that included Manfred’s email address and urged supporters to contact him.
“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,” CatholicVote president Brian Burch wrote in a statement on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Wednesday, the Dodgers bowed to the pressure.
“This year, as part of a full night of programming, we invited a number of groups to join us. We are now aware that our inclusion of one group in particular – The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – in this year’s pride night has been the source of some controversy,” a statement posted on the team’s official Twitter account read. “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.”
Rubio praised the decision on Twitter. “For once, common sense prevailed in California,” he wrote.
In a statement, Equality California executive director Tony Hoang criticized the Dodgers for their decision at a time when drag performers are under attack from far-right hate groups and Republican politicians across the country.
“As longtime community leaders, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised millions of dollars for causes including HIV/AIDS healthcare, affordable housing, violence prevention, and drug abuse prevention in addition to offering grants to direct-service organizations and small businesses that support underrepresented communities,” Hoang wrote.
“The anti-LGBTQ+ extremists who advocated for the removal of the Sisters from Pride Night are the very same people who are trying to erase the rights of trans kids and their families, criminalize drag performance and roll back equality for LGBTQ+ people across the country — we cannot and will not let them win,” he continued. “We call on the Dodgers to reinstate The Sisters as an honoree for Pride Night and work towards strengthening their commitment to unity.”
“This is pure COWARDICE and BULLS**T, @dodgers,” tweeted actor and LGBTQ+ activist Wilson Cruz. “#thesistersofperpetualindulgence have done MORE GOOD in the world and for our community than the #catholicchurch EVER has. You’re either an ally organization or your TIRED and too scared of your own shadow to stand up for GOOD.”
“Cancel the whole f**king night, @lapride,” he added. “It’s ALL f us or NONE of us. The @dodgers need US a helluva lot more than we could ever need them. If they can’t see what the right side of history is, that’s on them. They can truly go F**K themselves. I’m embarrassed for them.”
“So disappointing to see the @Dodgers cave to the conservative pseudo-Christian homophobes,” Sister Roma, a member of the San Francisco chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, tweeted. “This weaponizing of religion is exactly what the @LADragnuns and @SFSisters have been protesting for decades.”