Religious protests squelch controversial Pride celebration
Thousands of demonstrators led by American religious group Catholics for Catholics reportedly blocked entry to Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on Friday night in protest of drag group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence receiving a prestigious local award, resulting in sparse attendance at the much-hyped event.
At least 2,000 demonstrators massing outside the main entrance forced police and security to shut down public access to the facility late Friday afternoon, according to local media. Video posted to social media showed the stadium seats nearly empty as the master of ceremonies announced the flamboyant performers, who were honored with the baseball team’s Community Hero Award.
A few of the spectators could be heard loudly booing as the drag queens, known for their theatrical riffs on Christian ritual and their fetishized versions of nuns’ habits and other religious wear, were introduced.
Wielding signs emblazoned with slogans like “Play ball not politics” and “Jesus is King,” the protesters appeared to far outnumber the spectators inside the stadium, a visual that conservatives hailed as proof of the “get woke, go broke” axiom that has dogged once-popular brands like Bud Light and Target when they dabbled in performative progressive politics. Even former Trump strategist Steve Bannon weighed in on the event on his social media, describing the scene as “Empty stadium greets anti-Catholic perverts.”
The Dodgers earned the ire of individuals on both sides of the divisive issue when they reversed course on disinviting the Sisters to their tenth annual Pride Night celebration in the face of political backlash. Last month, they uninvited the troupe after significant protests from religious organizations, priests and politicians from across the country, only to reverse their decision and issue a public apology less than a week later in the face of equally strident protests from LGBTQ advocates and civil rights groups.
The Sisters, a self-described “leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns” whose motto is “Go forth and sin some more,” were established in 1979 in San Francisco and claim to promote human rights, community service and spiritual enlightenment. However, many religious and political groups take a dim view of their performances, which have included pole-dancing Jesuses and “Foxy Mary” beauty contests alongside more typical drag fare, while others consider them blasphemous.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez devoted part of his Friday mass to denouncing the baseball team’s decision to welcome the troupe into the heart of the community, while radio ads paid for by the Catholic League are also believed to have attracted larger numbers of protesters to Friday’s demonstration, which was advertised as a nonviolent, apolitical “prayerful procession” by organizers.