LOS ANGELES – With a heavy police and security presence along the first level of seating, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were honored with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ community hero award on the team’s Pride Night.
The honor took place more than an hour before first pitch. Dodger Stadium was relatively empty when the civil rights activists took the field. But those in the seats gave the Sisters loud cheers and applause when they were announced.
“The Dodgers community hero award goes to an organization reaching the LGBTQ+ community, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, LA chapter,” stadium announcer Todd Leitz said. “Please join us in recognizing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their outstanding service to the LGBTQ+ community.”
‘Make people feel good about who they are’
Sister Unity, who donned a blue outfit with red ribbons to represent the group’s service in fighting HIV/AIDS, was with Sister Dominia on the field to accept the honor from the Dodgers. Sister Unity said they thought the ceremony would take place “when the stadium was already full,” but expected cheers and boos regardless. Instead, it was only cheers.
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“I did not hear a single boo, and I was delighted to hear so much of our community cheering,” Sister Unity told USA TODAY Sports at Dodger Stadium. “That always flipped the on switch for me. I responded very happily with what we’ve always done, which is to wave and be fun and goofy, and make people feel good about who they are.”
The night was also vastly different from when the Sisters were honored by the Angels for their Pride Night, when some said they were verbally abused by the crowd. Sister Unity said the fans they encountered at Dodger Stadium were “wonderful,” and team staff were “very polite.” The only thing that bothered Sister Unity was the decision to wear blue.
“As I was walking through the stadium, it seemed like every other person was also wearing blue,” Sister Unity said. “If I had known, I might have worn puce or cove. I’m shocked and dismayed.”
Dodger Stadium protests
While the Sisters were having fun inside the stadium, outside were hundreds of people in protest of the Sisters’ recognition. What started as a protest outside of the stadium merged toward the parking lot entrances, resulting in the main entrance of the stadium getting closed.
Sister Unity was concerned about the safety of the group ahead of the game, knowing there would be protesters. Some Sisters drove past the protesters in front of the stadium entrance, seeing the signs of disapproval, leaving doubts of their safety. However, the Sisters were able to avoid a confrontation with protesters, and with the ceremony over and the focus going back to baseball, the hope is the negative attention on the Sisters will begin to die down.
“We have been trying to be at the top of our game, so that our words would help as many people as possible. That takes a lot of focus. And until now, I hadn’t realized it takes a lot of emotional fortitude and energy,” Sister Unity said. “Now that it’s done, I feel very proud of the fact that we all got through this.”
And no matter whether people supported or disliked the Sisters, the group hopes everyone can still enjoy the game.
“My prayer is that everyone, whether they were critical of us, or they love us, or they are indifferent, are here for the hot dogs and the game. My prayer is that everyone leaves Dodger Stadium with a heart full of happiness,” Sister Unity said.
“It should be fun for everyone.”