Dodgers pull Pride Night invite to group accused of mocking Christians

Following criticism from various Catholic groups and even a U.S. senator, the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday withdrew an invitation the team had extended to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — described on its website as an "order of queer and trans nuns" — to participate in the team's annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night.

"This year, as part of a full night of programming, we invited a number of groups to join us," according to a statement issued by the team Wednesday. "We are now aware that our inclusion of one group in particular — The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — in this year's Pride Night has been the source of some controversy.

"Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters' inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year's group of honorees."

The group had been scheduled to receive a Community Hero Award at the team's June 16 Pride Night, honoring its efforts to promote human rights, diversity and "spiritual enlightenment."

The Sisters' website describes the organization as "a leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns."

"We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit," the group says.

Responding to the Dodgers' announcement Wednesday, one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's most veteran and visible members, known as Sister Roma, said the team was giving in to "right-wing pseudo-Christian media."

"So disappointing to see the Dodgers cave to the conservative pseudo-Christian homophobes," Sister Roma wrote on Twitter. "This weaponizing of religion is exactly what the (Sisters) have been protesting for decades."

The Dodgers' original decision to honor the group drew criticism from various Catholic organizations. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, accused the team of "rewarding anti-Catholicism" by honoring the group.

"The Catholic League has been the leading critic of this bigoted organization for many decades," Donohue wrote on the organization's website. "... These homosexual bigots are known for simulating sodomy while dressed as nuns."

He added, "Just last month, they held an event mocking our Blessed Mother and Jesus on Easter Sunday."

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Donohue said he wrote to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to protest the Dodgers' decision to honor the group.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, also sent a complaint to Manfred, saying the group "mocks Christians through diabolical parodies of our faith."

"Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being 'inclusive and welcoming to everyone' by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians — and not only Christians, but nuns, who devote their lives to serving others?" Rubio wrote in his letter.

The organization Catholic Vote also condemned the move. Its president, Brian Burch, issued a statement Wednesday hailing the team's decision to exclude the group, which he called "an anti-Catholic hate group known for their gross mockery of Catholic nuns."

"While we continue to wonder how such a group was selected in the first place, this incident should serve as a wake-up call for all religious believers: unchecked woke corporations have no qualms about exploiting people of faith," Burch said.

But the team's decision to dis-invite the group also generated criticism.

"If they're not invited, I'm not going," Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath wrote on her Twitter page. "Celebrating Pride is about inclusion. Do better."

Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner issued the following statement Thursday:

"We are deeply disappointed that the Dodgers, an organizational partner that has made significant strides towards dismantling anti-LGBTQ+ bias in sports and long-standing supporter of our mission, has decided to revoke their invitation to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at their upcoming Pride Night.

Buckling to pressure from out-of-state, right-wing fundamentalists, the Dodgers caved to a religious minority that is perpetuating a false narrative about LGBTQ+ people. They have been fed lies about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and have therefore contributed to the ongoing, anti-LGBTQ smear campaign happening in this country. In a year where over 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation are on the books—many of them targeting freedom of speech, expression, and the bodily autonomy of our community—the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is as critical as ever, and unfortunately the Dodgers chose to bow to the religious right rather than stand with our LGBTQ community.

We at the Center know that the religious right—a minority aligned with white supremacy and attacks on reproductive justice—does not speak for all people of faith, including the many people of faith within the LGBTQ+ community. We know that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have reclaimed religious imagery, garb, and symbolism to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality; through their protests, they have exposed the hypocrisy of the churches that demonized gay people during the AIDS Crisis; challenged faith institutions to stand with queer and trans people; and raised valuable resources for our community as we were turned away from services elsewhere.

We call on the Dodgers to reconsider their decision, honor the Sisters, and bring the true spirit of Pride back to Dodgers Stadium. If the decision is not reversed, we strongly encourage the Dodgers to cancel Pride Night. Any organization that turns its back on LGBTQ+ people at this damning and dangerous inflection point in our nation’s history should not be hoisting a rainbow flag or hosting a ‘Pride Night.’ We want the Dodgers ally ship to be consistent with our experience partnering with them over the past many years. The people of Los Angeles County have consistently and overwhelmingly shown up for LGBTQ+ equality. If one of our most beloved institutions—the Dodgers—refuses to stand by us at this moment, we are terrified of what will come next. Los Angeles is a leader—not a follower. We call on the Dodgers to set an example. 

To our Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, we say: Thank you. You will always have a place to be honored at the Los Angeles LGBT Center."

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence released a statement saying: 

"My name is Sister Harlot D Lite

Our community does not succumb to bullying by ultra-right wing extremists, nor do we bow down to Catholic groups that wish our LGBTQIA plus community harm and violence.This is not about an award at this point. but the fact that the Dodgers allowed these Actual bigots and hateful groups to easily come for our community that we service and hold dear in our hearts. You quote 'as in the spirit of Unity' in your response message, but there is no unity in your actions! The only controversy is your own actions Dodgers and the fact that they allowed others to continue to bully us.

We are part of your queer diversity. This is all our fight for inclusivity and equal rights. These hateful groups were allowed to infiltrate our spaces of celebration and love and joy. Which Dodger Pride Night is advertised as.  Our queer/ trans families are facing so much retaliation in the United States and all across the world.

I am a nun. A drag nun. A volunteer. I feed the hungry, I raise funds for multiple charities that range from helping the unhoused, hiv services organizations, pet shelters, queer youth and trans organizations, minister to the sick and healthy, and defend the most underserved and marginalized communities that are LGBT and that are not. I just do it with glitter and fabulous outfits.

Our LGBTQIA community is in a dire situation right now. More than 400 bills have been filed around the country and many have already been passed, from banning lifesaving health care to criminalizing drag events to censoring LGBTQIA people and issues in schools and in our own Pride celebrations.

The truth is, LGBTQIA people are a part of America's communities. We are your family members, neighbors, coworkers, fellow worshipers, community members, and we serve in your military because we fight with you. We are making valuable contributions to our society, and we are here to stay. We will not be scared or coerced into silence or into pretending to be anything except our fully authentic selves.

As society we should not allow hate and fear to fill our soul. We should embrace, learn from, have actual conversations about differences and move forward in love, joy and peace.

I will continue to do the drag nun work that I do because it is needed in the world. It is my calling and my duty as a queer person.

Pride is a celebration but also our resistance. Love is my message it should be yours too."