The Los Angeles Dodgers have sparked controversy after suddenly changing their plans for Pride night on June 16.

Last week, they announced their intention to remove the invitation of a prominent LGBTQ+ charity group from their Pride night celebrations. The decision sparked backlash across the board, which the organization could not dodge.

While the baseball team initially planned to honor the “order of queer and trans nuns” organization Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with a Community Hero Award, they issued a statement on May 18 reversing their decision.

The statement explained they were “deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees” due to “controversy.” By that, the team seemed to reference the group’s penchant for dressing in drag — particularly as nuns.

However, many responded with fury to the removal, leading the Dodgers to invite the decades-old San Francisco-based group back.

The Dodgers initially planned to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at their upcoming Pride Night

Okay, so let’s back up. First, the Dodgers announced the 10th anniversary celebration of Pride Night at Dodgers Stadium on their website. As you can see in the flyer, the team joined forces with LA Pride to bring it to life, unveiling a special Dodgers LGBTQ+ jersey and hats.

They also planned to feature the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and honor them with an award. The charity group is renowned for dressing in drag as a form of protest, combatting hate against the LGBTQ+ community.

The group uses outfits like nun costumes to subvert and bring attention to injustices against the community. The organization’s work is exemplary. Getting their start in 1979, they ministered to people during the AIDS epidemic and have tirelessly raised money for LGBTQ+ causes.

As per a statement on their own website, the group actually started “in response to the AIDS crisis, when gay men, who their faiths and families had abandoned because of their orientation, were sick and dying.” The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence rose to the plate, raising money for people with AIDS and educating people about safe sex.

Seemingly pointing to their use of religious imagery, they explain it like this: “We use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

When looking at the group’s charity work, many could think it makes sense that the Dodgers would want to honor them at Pride Night. However, conservative politicians didn’t look at it that way and the team soon buckled under pressure (at least for a hot minute).

Invitations, disinvitations and backlash from both sides of the political spectrum

On May 15, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio issued a press release regarding the Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

In it, Rubio called them “an anti-Catholic group of activist drag queen performers.” Adding that the “men dressed like Catholic nuns,” actually “mock the faith.”

He also added he’d be sending a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred, asking whether the MLB is “inclusive and welcoming” to Christians.

Rubio additionally questioned whether the Dodgers were being “inclusive and welcoming to everyone.” He said the group “intentionally mock and degrades Christians.”

Once that was out, many fellow conservatives jumped on it on social media. This included Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of the San Francisco Archdiocese:

While conservatives continued to incite backlash about the MLB’s decision, few thought the league would actually rethink its decision. But they did.

The Dodgers issued a statement on May 18, writing: “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.”

Then, they announced their decision to cut them from the night’s roster. Pointing to “the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion,” saying they didn’t want to “distract from the great benefits” of Pride Night. In short, their decision was blunt and to the point: “We are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees.”

As you can expect, the blowback to that was just as abrupt.

For one, Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken invited the charity group to Los Angeles Angels’ Pride Night instead. She wrote on Twitter, “I’m inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to join me for Angels Pride Night…I was disappointed in the Dodgers’ decision.”

Then the Dodgers re-invited the group, offering their “sincerest apologies”

Just days later, on May 23, the Dodgers announced yet another decision. They reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to Pride Night — and would give them their award.

“After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities…the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families,” they said in a statement.

They continued, saying they re-invited the charity group and were “pleased to share” they agreed to “receive the gratitude” the team had initially planned for them.

The team closed the statement: “We will continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to better educate ourselves.”

Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence said the team gave them a “full apology and explanation,” describing it as “an opportunity for learning with a silver lining.”

And while LA Pride had initially announced they were pulling out of Dodgers’ Pride Night, they also shifted gears. Writing on Twitter, “The Los Angeles Dodgers have taken a good first step towards their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community by renewing their invite.”

As LA Pride described, “We are always stronger when we stand together.”