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Dodgers Cave To Culture War Crank And Senator From Other Side Of Country, Disinvite Venerable Charity Group From Pride Night

Members of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence pose at a pride event.
Photo by Gregory Herpe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers this week publicly disinvited the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from participating in the team's 2023 Pride Night, to be held at Dodger Stadium on June 16. The team originally planned to honor the activist group with something called the Community Hero Award, but after being confronted with what the team describes as "some controversy," the Dodgers took the unusual step of announcing on Twitter that they'd removed the Sisters from "this year's group of honorees."

Presumably the Dodgers had a pretty good idea who the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were before this supposed controversy; after all, they had decided to give them a community service award. The Sisters have a history of charity and activism dating back to 1979, and the Los Angeles mission was launched in 1995. Members dress in flamboyant drag and give themselves funny, bawdy names—Sister GladAss, Sister Dana Van Iquity, Sister Betty Does—but their mission and works are straightforwardly good and necessary. The Sisters were essential activists and grassroots fundraisers of the AIDS epidemic era; in 1982 they made and distributed what was probably the first safe-sex pamphlet created by and for gay men, and member Bobbi Campbell (Sister Florence Nightmare) appeared on the seminal 1983 Newsweek cover that brought the epidemic to wider public recognition. They've raised millions of dollars in donations over the years for humanitarian causes, charities, and emergency grants, and helped bring attention to art projects, anti-war protests, suicide prevention efforts, homeless initiatives, and on and on.

On May 15, Senator Marco Rubio (R-State That Does Not Contain Los Angeles) publicized a letter he says he sent to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, tattling on the Sisters for what he describes as "diabolical parodies" of Christian faith, and asking the commissioner whether he believes the Dodgers are being "inclusive and welcoming to everyone" when they honor an organization that "intentionally mocks and degrades Christians." Rubio's letter seemingly helped rouse fellow bigots to action, including Bill Donohue, the longtime head of the Catholic League, a group dedicated to waging right-wing culture war under the guise of fighting anti-Catholic discrimination. ("Group" is used loosely; the usual joke is that the Catholic League consists mainly of Bill Donohue's fax machine, which is directly connected to the front page of the New York Post.)

Donohue has been chasing around the Sisters for decades, threatening that his organization will boycott this or that venue or event or entire city for hosting or honoring them. He posted about the Dodgers Pride Night award on his Catholic League website the day after Rubio posted his letter, describing it as the Dodgers rewarding "anti-Catholic hate speech," and accusing the Dodgers of breaking bread "with the most despicable elements in American society today." Donohue also included Manfred's email address at the bottom of his post, clearly intending to weaponize an audience of cranks who would never in a million years actually go to Pride Night at Dodger Stadium, but who rarely pass up an opportunity to send an angry email about how some institution or company has lost their business by going woke.

The intimidation campaign may have been straight out of the Reagan era, but it seems to have worked. Responding to the entirely manufactured offense of a scaly right-wing politician from the "Don't Say Gay" state—a state located approximately 2,300 miles away—and a boomer nutbar pursuing a decades-old astroturfing campaign, the Dodgers disinvited a good and essential charity organization from participating in an event meant to celebrate the very communities they've worked to serve. In attempting to stave off phony controversy, the Dodgers now invite coverage (like this) of their cowardice. As we all know, you cannot have a successful Pride Night until your plans have received the approval of Marco Rubio and the Catholic League.

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