Dodgers are in a mess over drag charity group and Pride Night

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Brian Hardzinski

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence participate in a pride parade, June 16, 2019. Photo by Shutterstock.

When the LA Dodgers celebrate Pride Night next month, a group of drag queens dressed as nuns — with their faces painted black, white, and every other color — will be honored on the field at Dodger Stadium. They’re the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a charity and performance group that uses religious imagery to raise money for and awareness of HIV/AIDS, safe sex, and other issues that can affect everyone. 

The Dodgers had asked them to participate in June’s Pride Night, then rescinded the invitation after pressure from Catholic groups, Major League Baseball, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Then after backlash to the backlash, the team back-tracked, publicly apologized, and re-invited the Sisters on Monday. (The Sisters accepted.)

“I think my identity as a Dodgers fan is the primary one with which I reacted to this controversy,” says Karen Tongson, professor of gender and sexuality, English, and American studies at USC. “And I was devastated that the Dodgers would cede to external pressure, and particularly from outside-the-area politicians, as well as Major League Baseball, to ruin the relationship it’s built with its LGBTQ community over the last decade.” 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Sisters, Tongson explains that they create parodic takes on the Catholic Church for its homophobic stances and oppression. Drag is part of their street performances. But the group’s main role is raising money to support people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and to help others within and beyond the LGBTQ community.

Tongson notes that it’s a recent phenomenon for corporations to start “indulging in rainbow capitalism.” 

“Many of us in the LGBTQ community are deeply cynical about these gestures of rainbow sponsorship and corporate sponsorship, because we know why they're there. It's less a deep and profound commitment to supporting us and supporting our causes, than to reaching into our pockets and getting as much as they can out of us.” 

Tongson says she’s been a Dodgers fan since age 10, and now she and her community are deeply deliberating whether they will attend Pride Night in Chavez Ravine.



  • Karen Tongson - author of “Normporn: Queer Viewers And The TV That Soothes Us,” professor of gender and sexuality, English, and American studies at USC