For years, dozens of professional sports teams have set aside one day on their annual schedules to celebrate their LGBTQ fans.
Thanks largely to timing — a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ community is observed across the country every June — Major League Baseball has been the leader among the five largest professional sports leagues in hosting events for their LGBTQ fans. In 2018, all but two franchises sponsored a Pride Night event, which marked a record.
One of those two holdouts is also the winningest and most storied professional sports team in the country: the New York Yankees. The Yankees have stubbornly refused to host an official Pride night for years, citing the team’s longstanding policy against themed events tailored to specific cultural or ethnic groups.
According to a report by local sports network SNY, however, baseball’s crown jewel is swinging for the fences in 2019.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the epicenter of the gay liberation movement that sprang from a spontaneous uprising by the bar’s LGBTQ patrons against violent police raids. According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Yankees are preparing to commemorate the event in a big way.
While a Yankees spokesman said it was too early to confirm any specifics of the 2019 promotional calendar, other sources said that the team continues to work out details of Stonewall-centered events. Specifics have not been finalized, but I hear that the final plan is likely to include activities both inside and outside the ballpark.
It’s unclear whether any such event would be a one-off, or the start of an annual tradition at Yankee Stadium. But Martino cites several executives who recognize that the team’s reticence to embrace a Pride night is an untenable position in 2018, and will only be less so in a year — the only other team without a sanctioned Pride night, the Los Angeles Angels, have already announced their intention to host one in 2019.
Regardless of the Yankees’ 2019 plans, male professional sports leagues would be well-served to look to their female contemporaries for tips on how to properly serve their LGBTQ fans.