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Sunday, August 25, 2019


Astros’ ‘Pride at the Park Night’ sends wrong message to fans

Minute Maid Park will be the prideful place to be this summer when the Astros host their “Pride in the Park” night to celebrate and promote awareness in the GLBT community. | Courtesy of Houston Astros

Sports provide an escape for many, a place where people of all different walks of life can congregate and unite to support the common goal of their team beating its opponent. While some view sports as trivial competitions, there are times when people attempt to use them to serve a higher purpose.

Some people, however, go too far and attempt to use sports as a catalyst to effect social change, which can distort their true purpose of providing entertainment to the masses.

On July 10, the Astros will work toward raising awareness for Houston’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community when they host “Pride at the Park Night” during a home game against the Cardinals. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to six local non-profit organizations, and Mayor Annise Parker will even kick the night off by throwing out the opening pitch.

Tickets prices will be discounted for everyone who attends — not just members of the GLBT community — so no one will be singled out. At least that’s the way it seems.

The problem is that while the Astros feel they’re celebrating GLBT awareness, they are really doing more harm to the movement than good.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I am not a member of the GLBT community; I will never know some of the struggles people of that particular background have had to endure.

That said, what I do know is that the way to gain acceptance for the gay community — or any group, for that matter — isn’t by celebrating its existence once every 365 days.

The GLBT community should always be embraced. It’s ludicrous for the Astros to say, “Let’s have Annise Parker throw out the first pitch of our GLBT event because she’s gay.” Parker should be a candidate to be involved in an Astros game by virtue of the fact that she’s the mayor of the fourth-largest city in the U.S., not because of her sexual orientation.

Everyone should be welcome at any Astros game, and in many ways, this night subtly demonstrates that members of the GLBT community are not. Hosting Pride at the Park Night sends a message that the team wants to celebrate the GLBT community, just not all of the time and only on its own terms.

What the Astros need to realize is that the best way to accept a certain group of people is by treating them the same way they would treat any other. Hosting an event that singles out a particular group of people is counterintuitive to our progression into an accepting culture.

While it may be naïve to think members of the GLBT community are accepted equally everywhere in the nation, it’s equally absurd to not realize the extent to which Houston already embraces the gay community. If owner Drayton McLane really wants to send a message of support, he and the team should sponsor a float in the annual Pride Houston parade.

The Astros’ front office has a long history of making mistakes when it comes to running their organization, but such blunders usually manifest themselves on the field instead of away from it. Unless the Astros’ next campaigns involve “Heterosexuals at Home Plate” or “Caucasians in the Crawford Boxes,” this idea will unfortunately go down in the “loss” column.

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