Dodgers ban Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from Pride Night

Dodgers Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The Dodgers have banned the Los Angeles chapter of the drag group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the team’s annual Pride Night after a backlash from conservative groups and a U.S. senator from Florida. Photo: Provided by Albert Ontiveros

UPDATE: The Greater Los Angeles Softball Association and LA Pride, two community partners in the Dodger’s Pride Night, have backed out of the event, citing the Dodgers’ caving to anti-gay groups who were upset at the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored for their community service.

The Dodgers have banned the drag group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the team’s annual Pride Night after a backlash from conservative groups and a U.S. senator from Florida. 

The Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were scheduled to be honored “for their countless hours of community service, ministry, and outreach to those on the edges, in addition to promoting human rights and respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment” during Pride Night on June 16.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers did an about face and said the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which don makeup and nuns habit, will not be included in the event.

“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,” the Dodgers said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“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’ve seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees,” the statement said.

Glenn Burke, baseball’s first openly gay player, helped create high five

The controversial move by the Dodgers follows the team’s May 7 announcement of the 10th Pride Night, when an official said the Dodgers “have always championed diversity and inclusion as core values, and we’re honored to showcase our dedication to fostering an inclusive environment both on and off the field during our tenth annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night.”

The Catholic League and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, launched a holy war against the Dodgers for wanting to honor the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with its community hero award, according to Outsports.

Bearonce Knows reacts

Albert Ontiveros, known as Sister Bearonce Knows, a 10-year member of the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, released a statement about the Dodgers’ controversial decision.

“To be seen and heard by an organization as large as the Los Angeles Dodgers is a huge honor for which we took a lot of pride… However, we are now being asked by the Los Angeles Dodgers to NOT be seen and NOT be heard, and that clearly evokes a completely different emotion, one that calls for a response from the Sisters and our community.”

The Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence invited their community to watch the group receive the honor, Ontiveros said.

“We now need to retract those invitations and make our community  aware that the Dodgers have crumbled to the homophobia, right wing bullying and hate. Crumbled. SO FAST,” Ontiveros said.

“It is not shocking to me that the Dodgers have been so quick to crumble. We queer people have dealt with a lifetime of homophobia and hate, this is another day, with another attack on our freedom and our pride.”

Ontiveros is not asking for a boycott of Pride Night because “there are many wonderful community organizations who benefit from this evening.”

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

For more than 20 years, the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has used satire to spotlight issues of sexual intolerance, morality, and religion.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is most active in its hometown of San Francisco, where it relocated to in 1979 after being founded in Iowa City.

Both groups have been most active HIV education and fundraising.

The group believes “all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty,” using “humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit,” according to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Guidestar profile.

Complicated relationship with LGBTQ community

The Dodgers have a complicated relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

In the late 1970s, Glenn Burke, who identified as gay, was an outfielder with the Dodgers, but he wasn’t championed. Management made Burke’s life awful.

In 2000, two lesbian Dodgers’ fans were kicked out of Dodgers Stadium because they kissed each other. The couple filed a lawsuit, and as part of a settlement, the team publicly apologized and gave away 5,000 tickets to gay and lesbian fans.

One thing the team refused to do was host a Gay Pride night, the women said at the time.

That event didn’t happen until 13 years later.

Billie Jean King, a minority owner of the Dodgers, was asked by Q Voice News in 2019 about the lack of openly gay players in Major League Baseball, including the Dodgers.

‘It does bother me’

“It does bother me,” King said in an interview.  “It would help if a player who was young and popular came out. If one person came forward, it would be great.”

An active Major League Baseball player who is openly gay or bisexual has never happened in the league.. Billy Bean, a player with the Dodgers, Tigers and Padres, came out in 1999 after retiring and is now an executive in MLB’s front office. David Denson came out while with the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system in 2013, but he never played in the major leagues.

King said one reason gay players stay closeted is because “nobody feels safe to come out. It’s still an old boys club.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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