Dodgers’ anti-gay history goes back at least 45 years


The Dodgers have an anti-gay history with the LGBTQ+ community that has lasted at least 40 years. 

The team’s decision last week to remove the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from receiving an award at the Dodgers’ Pride Night lineup in June followed backlash from anti-gay conservative activists 

But that behavior isn’t the first time the Dodgers have treated the LGBTQ+ community with disdain.

Glenn Burke

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.

Though Burke’s teammates and team management knew he was gay, Burke didn’t publicly come out until after he retired from baseball

At one point, according to Burke, the team’s vice president offered to pay for his honeymoon if he would only get married (“to a woman,” it went without saying).

In May 1978, just two months into the Dodgers’ season, the young ballplayer was traded to the Oakland Athletics for the much older Billy North.

Burke and his teammates were shocked.

Fellow player Dusty Baker recalled a conversation with team trainer Bill Buhler in an interview with Inside Sports

Baker asked Buhler why Burke, “one of our top prospects,” was traded.

“ ‘They don’t want any gays on the team’,”Buhler said.

Lesbians kicked out for kissing

In August 2000, two lesbian Dodgers’ fans, Danielle Goldey and her then-girlfriend, Meredith Kott, were kicked out of Dodgers Stadium because they kissed each other. The couple threatened to file 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.

It took 13 years before the Dodgers acknowledged LGBTQ+ fans with Pride Night in 2013.

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,” 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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