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LGBTQ Sportsball

🏳️‍🌈 Gayskool: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Since I wrote about baseball yesterday, let’s switch gears today and talk about … (checks notes) … baseball.

Depending on who you ask, the first Pride night at an MLB stadium was held in 1994, 2000, or 2001.

In 1994, the San Francisco Giants held an “Until There’s a Cure Night” to bring awareness to the AIDS crisis. It was the first event of its kind hosted by a Major League Baseball team, but it wasn’t really a Pride night as we would know it today. There were plenty of red ribbons, but the team didn’t use the word “gay” to describe the event.

In 2000, the Los Angeles Dodgers booted two lesbians from their stadium because they were kissing. The horror! Because of the backlash, there was a Gay and Lesbian Night at Dodger Stadium — but it was not really a Dodgers event. It was hosted by GLAAD using tickets the Dodgers donated. Even if it wasn’t a team-sponsored event, let’s all acknowledge it was a pretty fucking huge deal and baseball’s first real move to recognize its most fabulous fan base.

The first real Pride night at a ballpark — by real, I mean that it was actually hosted by the team and marketed as such — came in 2001 when the Chicago Cubs held its “Out at Wrigley” night. The Giants joined in with its own Pride night the following year. Since then, more teams have been celebrating their LGBTQ fans with a special event each year. And other leagues are joining in: You’ll find a lot of Pride nights in the NHL and NBA. (The Complimentary Spouse and I go to the Lightning’s Pride night every year.)

The NFL was very late to the party; the Washington Commanders (let’s not use their old name) hosted the first Pride night in professional football in 2021. Will other football teams join in? I hope so but I’m not holding my breath. After all, this is the league that freaked out over Colin Kaepernick. I don’t expect them to lead when it comes to social issues.

Pride nights are a pretty timely thing to write about today because Britt and I just returned from Pride night (actually, it was a day game) at Tropicana Field.

The Tampa Bay Rays held its first Pride night in 2016. It was a few days after the horrific Pulse massacre, and people were still shocked and looking for ways to show their support for the LGBTQ community. So many people wanted to participate in Pride night that the Rays had to open the upper deck and the game was a complete sell-out. You’ll still see people walking around the Tampa Bay area wearing rainbow-colored “We Are Orlando” T-shirts with the Rays logo — the giveaway that night.

I took the photo at the top of this post at today’s game. And, just for the hell of it, here are some more great pictures of Britt and me at previous Pride nights.