This afternoon, Toronto FC announced that they will be holding a Pride night at BMO Field later on this month. They represent yet another professional sports franchise that has moved ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays on this.
According to a recent piece at Outsports, eleven MLB teams will host Pride nights this month, with five more “hosting LGBT community events outside of Pride Month.” That’s more than half the league.
Interestingly: the Blue Jays will be involved in a Pride night, and it just so happens that it will be tonight, in Oakland. The night that the A’s host is the standard by which all other MLB Pride nights are measured — something I know from having read Stacey May Fowles’ outstanding piece for us last year on why the Blue Jays don’t have a Pride night of their own.
Interestingly: Kevin Pillar will, of course, be there with the Jays, less than a month removed from his suspension for shouting a homophobic slur at Jason Motte. One wonders how he’ll be received.
Interestingly: Sportrac has a database of all MLB suspensions dating back to the middle of 2009, and only two of the entries make reference to homophobia, both of them Blue Jays: Pillar’s and Yunel Escobar’s 2012 suspension for writing a slur on his eye black. Not a good look, Blue Jays.
Interestingly: the Jays used to actually be ahead of the curve on this! You can still read the announcement of their 2006 event here, and via the Wayback Machine you can see a ticket offer for their 2009 event. A Toronto Standard piece from 2012 on Brett Lawrie becoming an inadvertent gay icon in the city says that the events ended with the 2009 one. I can only speculate on this part, but it seems to follow that dropping these events was probably one of a number of changes the Jays made once Paul Beeston officially became president (and Alex Anthopoulos his General Manager) in October of that year.
Interestingly: Shi Davidi spoke to You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke in a 2014 piece for Sportsnet, checking in on the progress that the organization had made in terms of outreach to the LGBT community following the Escobar incident. All kinds of positive signs seemed to be showing in that piece, though there’s no mention of a return of Pride at the Ballpark, nor any comment on its discontinuation.
For obvious reasons, I am not the right person to be some kind of a voice on this issue, but the main takeaway should seem rather obvious to anyone: get your shit together already, Jays!
Forgive me for injecting yet another straight dude’s voice into this, but the Tao is right:
It's so obvious that the Jays should have Pride night at the ballpark that I didn't even realize they weren't doing it.
— Tao of Stieb (@TaoofStieb) June 6, 2017
This was an especially powerful question a year ago, when Stacey wrote her piece, and when Toronto was hosting its first ever Pride month. That it remains a question still is just odd, and shitty, and — fuck, even if only from a wholly cynical marketing perspective — dumb. Be inclusive, you dopes!
Hopefully there’s somebody on the payroll there tonight in Oakland who is taking notes.