LOS ANGELES—National and American League Baseball stadiums across the country will be decked out in rainbow flags throughout June as America’s favorite pastime celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month. It should come as little surprise then that Los Angeles, home to an estimated 155,000 gays and lesbians, should get a jump on the celebrations as the L.A. Dodgers scores its seventh annual Pride Night on May 31.
The event themed “Just Unite” will honor LGBTQ Loyalty board member Billy Bean, who is Major League Baseball’s Vice President & Special Assistant to the Commissioner. Tossing the first ceremonial pitches for the night: Tennis champions and life-partners Billy Jean King and Ilana Kloss, who are co-owners of the team.
The MLB Pride Nights have been annual events since being introduced by the Chicago Cubs in 2001 when it launched Gay Days since renamed Out at Wrigley. Subsequently, every MLB team has gotten into the Pride Night spirit with the exception of the New York Yankees, which have always been reluctant to give special recognition to individual groups or organization.
This year, however, Billy Bean says that they are “Going big.” That doesn’t mean that the Yankees are having a Pride Night, but rather they are recognizing the LGBTQ community in special pre-game events through five Stonewall Scholarships to be given out during the Yankees’ homestand from June 17 through the 26th—each $10,000 scholarship is commemorating a decade since the Stonewall Riots 50 years ago began the modern gay rights movement.
It is also a first for the Los Angeles Angels, which will have its first Pride Night on June 25th. Taken together, it means that every one of Major League Baseball’s teams will have taken part in honoring the LGBTQ community.
This year, however, both Texas teams—the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers—have opted out of having an official Pride Night, although both teams in the traditionally conservative state have held a single one in the past, albeit years ago. Ironically, when the Astros play the Yankees and the Rangers play the Boston Red Sox, the LGBTQ community will be celebrating at the home-field stadiums.
For Billy Bean, it’s a busy month as LGBTQ Loyalty board member and MLB’s VP of social responsibility and anti-bullying makes the rounds across the nation to celebrate as many Pride Nights as he can accommodate.
Here now are the dates for all the MLB pride nights as of press time, as arranged alphabetically within each division, courtesy of OutSports: