Gay Pride Nights Popular Among MLB Teams, No Longer Draw Protests
Gay-themed sporting events "were once considered political statements and occasionally drew protests from opposing groups, but they have now become a seasonal staple, particularly in baseball," according to Billy Witz of the N.Y. TIMES. At least 18 of the 30 MLB teams "have hosted gay-themed events over the years." The Dodgers last Friday hosted their LGBT Night Out and invited openly gay former MLBer Billy Bean. He said that nights like Friday are "still important to the LGBT community, especially children and young adults." Bean: "We’re just looking for ways to be courageous within our community. When you have an environment like this, it empowers people to make positive and healthy decisions down the road and that saves lives." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said that gay pride nights "help create an environment where everyone is welcome." Kasten: "I can't imagine not doing it." Witz noted LGBT organizations typically "organize and promote the events along with the ball clubs." The teams "provide special rates for the groups and some type of acknowledgment, anything from displaying a mention on the scoreboard to allowing group representatives to throw out the first pitch to setting up VIP areas for the organizations." The Dodgers "sold more than 600 tickets through a web link in which a percentage of the proceeds went to AIDS Project L.A." A team spokesperson estimated that "many others bought tickets on their own" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/24).