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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  • So you’re against recognizing any group at the ballpark? By your estimation they should also scratch any Cinco De Mayo, Asian Heritage, Wedding Showcase, Singles Night, Praise in the Park, Noche Latina, Breast Cancer awareness, Boy Scouts and various other groups that have their own night.

  • That’s the STUPIDEST thing I’ve ever heard in my life! Why can’t the Astros have a GLBT pride day at the park? And why shouldn’t Annise Parker throw out the first pitch? Annise Parker is a great woman. She has been doing a superb job as mayor and she ran a first-rate campaign all on her own merits–that is all true–but she’s still gay. She has always been open about it, and she has a right to be open about it. Throwing out the first pitch is an honor, no matter what day it’s on and no matter what your race, gender or sexual orientation. Besides, why are you singling out the Astros? The Rodeo has “Go Tejano Day” and an African-American celebration day. The Texans honor veterans all the time. We have a freakin’ International Festival for Christ’s sake, and they have a special theme honoring a different ethnic group every year! I agree GLBTs should celebrate their sexual orientation everyday, but come on! With all the events, awareness months and celebration days out there for ethnic groups, cultures and people with diseases or disabilities, why can’t GLBTs get some too?

    • yes, but those groups are not abominations. who cares about who you have sex with. still waiting for straight day.

  • I agree with your article. I do not feel it is necessary to have a gay pride night.
    As a long time Astros fan, this disappoints me. It is fine with me if a person is gay
    but to single them out at a ball game is inappropriate. I will not be in the park
    on this night. God bless.

  • JackGonzo:
    So you’re against recognizing any group at the ballpark? By your estimation they should also scratch any Cinco De Mayo, Asian Heritage, Wedding Showcase, Singles Night, Praise in the Park, Noche Latina, Breast Cancer awareness, Boy Scouts and various other groups that have their own night.

    I think that all those things should be banned I am there to watch baseball dang it not how a 5th graders perfect attendance got him tickets, if I wanted singles night I would go to the local bar,if i wanted to know Jesus I would go to church, and if I wanted broaden my gay awareness I would go to Montrose. I just want to watch baseball and not give two dimes about anything else.

  • Why don’t you just Come Out and say what you really want to say… You think that Baseball is a straight sport and you don’t want to see tainted by the GLBT community. Insisting that they sponsor a float at the parade insted suggest hiding their suport within the GLBT community, because how many striaght people come to pride? Hosting an event like this brings the GLBT community out of the streotypical area known as Montrose. True the gay night clubs are their and the GLBT community feels somewhat safe there. However, we live all throughout the houston area, and some of us happen to like sports such as Baseball. I feel honered that the Astros would host such an event just as i’m sure that Mayor Parker is honored to throw the first pitch. Next time you write an article over GLBT events please don’t act like you know how we feel.

  • Sports are an American past time, and have historically been a rallying point for integrating marginalized communities (see: integration of collegiate athletics and professional leagues). People of all backgrounds enjoy watching and partaking in them. That the Astros choose to recognize some of their patrons is not in any way unusual. Steps like these are crucial for us as a society to move beyond repressive barriers. If a designated night bothers you, maybe you should find better priorities.

    Never mind the warped logic. You chide them for being too ineffective and suggest they sponsor a float in the parade instead, yet in the very same column you make note of how proceeds will benefit six separate non-profits. Sounds like they’re doing more for the issue than your bizarre mental acrobatics ever could.

  • Isn’t saying something like, “The GLBT community should always be embraced,” just a convenient way of saying that we never have to outright say we support the community it is just assumed that we do.

    As someone with many close friends in the LGBTetc community and a close family member I find that argument not only completely invalid but offensive as well. Saying that you should constantly support the queer community is basically saying that in principle you don’t hate gay people but you would rather not stand up and be recognized as someone who supports them.

    I think pride in the park is an excellent way to bring queer issues in sports to light and that the Astros absolutely need to have a pride day in the park to openly confront issues of queerness and sports. A very substantial portion of the Astros fanbase is queer and it would be downright foolish to ignore them. I think that the best thing the Astros could do is to have a pride in the park day where they recognize the sacrifices and contributions of queer culture to sports.

    I believe that you are absolutely wrong in your assertion that pride in the park actually denigrates the queer community by only recognizing it one night. Under your mindset they are never recognized at all. We celebrate Christmas and Easter to recognize Jesus even though we are supposed to revere him year round, why not have a specific holiday for the queer community of Houston. It is a vibrant community that deserves mainstream recognition.

    Besides, no matter what your orientation I think we can all agree that we love the ‘stros and would like to see them do well.

  • I think the GLBT community requested this event, and the Astros are trying to impose it on anyone.

  • straight people: i hate to break your adorable hearts but not everything is done for your benefit or entertainment. events like Pride Night, gay pride parades, whatever are there to provide a large safe venue for the GLBT community to come out and have fun. i’m not directing this toward anyone here specifically but i felt like it needed to be said.

    any step towards equality is a good one. however, its important not to fall into the sense of complacency that goes along with incremental change.

  • I would love to live in a world were being GLBT was so accepted that we didn’t need any type of pride events, but we don’t, and until we do I’d rather have one day of awareness than none at all.

  • I understand your point, however the Astros often highlight groups during games. In the past I have attended Opera night and Lutheran night at the park. I don’t think this remotely means the Lutherans, or Opera fans are discriminated against during other Houston Astros games the rest of the season. It is comendable that the Astros choose to honor different groups and celebrate the diversity of their fans.

  • Pride in the Park IS going to have a float in the Pride parade; and I echo Johan’s sentiments, that often times professional sports teams use their status and their publicity to promote groups and causes. As an employee of one of the benefitting agencies, I’m grateful to the Astros for bringing awareness to the GLBT community in Houston, sparking discussion, and highlighting the good work that area non-profits provide to Houston and Southeast Texas.

  • I agree with BigT. Any effort made to show support for a repressed group is NEVER sending the wrong message.

  • Who cares!!!!!!! You wan to be gay, be gay. I don't want to hear about it. Why must you feel like you have to tell everyone. Get lost.

  • A nice way for the Astros to show support for the GLBT community, as they do for many other groups. It doesn't mean that gays aren't welcome on other nights – we are, everyone at Minute Maid is always polite and professional to my husband and me. We appreciate that and we appreciate the Astros showing their support by having a Pride Night.

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