Queer Angelenos on supporting both the Dodgers and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence


“It's important for us, the queer community, to come and show up to support the Sisters. As an activist, it's actually important to follow as well. I don't think activism means you always need to be the person with the loudspeaker,” says LA Dodgers fan Shih-wei Carrasco-Wu. Photo courtesy of Roberto Muńoz.

June 16 marks the Dodgers 10th LGBTQ+ Pride Night, inviting scores of queer-identifying Angelenos and fans to Chavez Ravine to celebrate community and identity. But what should be a night of acceptance and good, old-fashioned baseball — the team faces off against its Bay Area rivals the Giants — has in recent weeks unraveled into an occasion underscored by controversy.  

Pride Night returns on the heels of a confounding turn of events, where on May 22  the team rescinded its invitation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an activist and charity group of self-described “leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns,” in response to conservative and Catholic outcry — including Florida senator Marco Rubio — over its awarding of the team’s Community Hero Award. 

The Dodgers subsequently faced scores of backlash from LGBTQ+ community members, the ACLU, the LA LGBT Center, and many other allies. Ultimately, the team walked back its decision days later, extending to the Sisters and fans a new invitation to its annual Pride Night along with an apology. Shortly thereafter, the team announced the return of its Christian Faith and Family Day, which hasn’t been held since before the pandemic.  

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The move elicited further outcry, including from the LA Archdiocese, who condemned the reversal of the reversal, and who plans to hold a Friday mass focusing on “healing due to the harm caused by the Dodger’s decision to honor a group that intentionally denigrates and profanes the Christian faith.” 

But religious and conservative groups aren’t the only ones still grappling with the fallout. The debacle is still on the minds of Dodger fans, LGBTQ+Identifying Angelenos, and others — especially with the backdrop of growing anti-LGBTQ sentiment and new laws targeting the community. 

KCRW talked with queer Dodger fans to hear how they’ve been processing the decision, what it represents in the greater socio-political fabric of the country, and whether they’re still going to Pride Night on Friday. 

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Keeping faith in the team

The Dodgers have always been a team of refuge for Roberto Muńoz. As a teenager, watching baseball at Dodger Stadium with his dad was commonplace and a way the two could bond. That love for the game, and the team, has evolved over the years — to the point where the 66 year old holds season tickets and gets out to games as often as he can with his husband.

“I bleed blue. I love baseball and I will watch baseball all day,” says Muńoz. “No matter what was going on in the world, we could always go back to baseball.” 

“I bleed blue. I love baseball and I will watch baseball all day,” Roberto Muńoz says. Photo courtesy of Roberto Muńoz. 

Muńoz has even attended every Pride Night hosted at Dodger Stadium since the event’s inception in 2013. In preparation for this year’s event, he organized a group of 30 people, all ready to attend and celebrate. 

“In this age of anti-trans and anti-drag sentiment, having the Dodgers step up and say, ‘Hey that doesn't matter to us. This is a great organization and we're going to honor them.’ I was excited,” he explains. 

He says that hearing about the Dodgers’ disinvitation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence felt like a slap in the face.

“It was disheartening. I was angry,” Muńoz says. “I asked myself, ‘Did nobody vet this? Did you not realize you were going to have this [response] and be prepared with the right statement? You buckled so easily?”

He adds, “I wanted to say, ‘Hey, I saw the sisters hold the hands of people dying of AIDS when nobody else would. And if you don't think that's worthy of at least your respect, if not your love and compassion, then I don't know what you're made of.”

Upon hearing the news, Muńoz called his season ticket rep and shared his shock. He even considered foregoing the event. But after the Dodgers reversed their decision, relief washed over Muńoz. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

“I was very proud that they did the right thing. However, there is a sour taste in a lot of people's mouths. …[But] I've seen people's responses and their beliefs evolve. I've seen people who said marriage is between a man and woman now embrace the same-sex couples in their lives.

He adds, “The Dodgers tripped on this one. But I think that the fact that they rectified it makes a big difference to me.”

Muńoz says he, and his husband of 26 years, do plan on attending Pride Night. They’re even getting their group of 30 fans together early at Dodger Stadium in support of the Sisters when they receive their award. 

Being here for the baseball

Other fans however, haven’t let the controversy get in the way of their love and support for the game — and for the Dodgers. For Dylan — who identifies as gay and whose last name KCRW is withholding due to privacy concerns — a love affair with the team began in the midst of the COVID pandemic. 

Growing up, he says, baseball seemed like the most boring game in the world  — save for when a team hit a homerun, which Dylan found to be exhilarating. During the pandemic, baseball became an escape while facing the chaos and uncertainty of the time. 

“I started picking up more on the strategy of the game and when you're watching it on TV — you know that very common center field camera shot — you can really see the pitch sequencing,” he says. 

But when he heard about the controversy swirling over the Sisters, Dylan was admittedly confused. He had never heard of the Sisters or their work. So he started researching. But the more outcry he saw online, the more he tuned out.

“I'm still a little numb about all of it, honestly. Ever since the initial flip flop and then the flip flop back, it’s just been so saturated,” he explains. “It seems like every day I see a new article about it from a lot of them or opinion pieces.”

The controversy, as Dylan explains, is reminiscent of other negativity he hears constantly. He points to online Dodger fan groups that he frequents, where a lot of conversation has shifted away from the game.

“It's something that seems to happen a lot nowadays, especially with what you could call culture war issues. Everyday it seems to just get more and more magnified,” he explains. “It's really invading everything regarding the team. Instead of talking about baseball, or how the season’s going, or how their win last night looked, you have people just giving their opinions on this. “

He adds, “It's taken some of the joy out of following the team.” 

Dylan says he’s excited for the game, but is also expecting demonstrators outside of Dodger Stadium. 

To forgive and forget

Shih-wei Carrasco-Wu was never a sports fan. At least, until he met his husband Mark and unknowingly married into a Dodger family. The first game he ever attended was in June 2016, during that year’s Pride Night at Dodger Stadium. 

“I felt like I was represented. For me, it was really cool to see other people dress in Pride gear and really make it feel like a very festive mood,” says Carrasco-Wu. “I remember attending and seeing other queer people of all shapes and sizes, and race and creed, were all there. And I felt like ‘Oh, this is a very welcoming space.’ I just remember it was such an awesome experience to be there.”

That experience challenged Carrasco-Wu’s long-standing belief that sports spaces weren’t welcoming to members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Thinking back on attending an event like [Pride Night], where it is an inclusive event, [it] didn't really quite sit with my idea of the toxic masculinity of outdoor sports culture,” he says.

He adds, “But I think creating a moment where people can come together celebrating something [Mark’s] family has strong ties to and able to participate in the fan culture, I think it's very important. This space allows us LGBT people to be seen inside a popular space.” 

When Carrasco-Wu learned the Sisters were uninvited to Pride Night, he immediately began posting online in protest: “I was like, ‘Oh my god, we're freaking California. Why do we give a shit about politics outside of the state?’”

He contacted the event sponsors, including LA Pride and Blue Shield of California, demanding that they withdraw their partnership with the Dodgers. 

Carrasco-Wu even admits to severing ties with a friend who, over a discussion at dinner, admitted that he was in favor of the Sisters no longer attending Pride Night. 

“That point of view misunderstood what the Sisters had done [for] the community,” he says, referring to the charity’s use of theatrical religious themes to highlight the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy towards marginalized communities, particularly during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In addition to political activism, their decades-long legacy includes combating hate crimes, ministering to the infirm, and fundraising for education and health research. “I have to point out that drag is a form of protest. It was created in the first place so that we have a visible way of telling that we are different, and then we are countering against the gender norm.”

He adds, “This idea of nun drag being offensive is completely bogus. We didn't call for an attack on Catholic nuns. In fact, they actually have been embodying the spirit and the good work that's similar, but definitely not the same, to Catholic practice. They're actually doing good to try to make our community better.”

Shi-wei Carrasco-Wu (R) unknowingly married into a Dodger fan. He’s grown to love the team. Photo courtesy of Shi-wei Carrasco-Wu.

Like Muńoz, Carrasco-Wu and his husband plan to attend Pride Night — they were able to snag some last minute tickets. He says it’s his duty to be there. 

“It's important for us, the queer community, to come and show up to support the Sisters,” Carrasco-Wu says. “As an activist, it's actually important to follow as well. I don't think activism means you always need to be the person with the loudspeaker.”

He adds, “I have some friends that point out to me, ‘So that's it? You're happy now? You're gonna forget the whole thing?’ And I’m just like, ‘Yeah. it doesn't need to be that complicated. I believe [in] the Sisters and their good work, and they're getting recognized. I want to be there to celebrate them — and also enjoy a freaking good game.”