ST. LOUIS – LGBT and ally fans will again descend on Busch Stadium to watch the St. Louis Cardinals take on division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers at the 5th annual Out at the Ballpark sponsored by Pride St. Louis.
Out at the Ballpark was started in July 2010 with the goal of giving the LGBT community the opportunity to cheer on the Birds (or maybe another team) where it is acknowledged and welcomed.
According to founder Ethan Barnett, the event is designed to be an inclusive, family friendly experience that lends visibility to the LGBT community of Greater St. Louis in a very main-stream setting while celebrating the passion for America’s favorite past-time, community involvement and awareness.
While Major League Baseball has yet to see its first active openly gay ball player, the organization is preparing the ground for diversity. In conjunction with this month’s All Star Game, MLB honored the late Glenn Burke who, in 1982, became the first former player to come out as gay. Further, MLB announced that former player Billy Bean (who came out as gay in 1999) will be the league's first-ever Ambassador of Inclusion.
“It is very exciting to see professional sports becoming more diverse,” said Barnett, vice president of Pride St. Louis. “With Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay pro football player, Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay pro basketball player and the NHL supporting the You Can Play campaign it is time for Major League Baseball to embrace the possibility of an openly gay baseball player. It shows that you can be who you are no matter what and if you can play...you can play; regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.”
According to Cyd Zeigler, founder of the LGBTQ sports blog OutSports, at least 75-percent if not all of MLB teams have had some form of “LGBT nights” at their respective parks since 2001.
“Some "gay nights" are small so don't get much attention outside of the event, so I don't think anyone can put a final number,” said Zeigler. “The power of these "gay nights" is often just for the attendees. It's still so important for LGBT people to feel they are welcome at sporting events, particularly for the big pro sports leagues.”
“On a larger scale, the visibility of some of these "gay nights" is profound,” Zeigler continued. “The Cubs and Phillies have both had powerful "gay nights" for years in which they truly celebrate the community with rainbow flags, pre-game pitches, national anthem performers and other visibility efforts. Those teams can be applauded for using the opportunity to make much larger statements about their sports family and inclusion of everyone in sports.”
Still, many LGBT St. Louis sports fans may be wondering if a similar event is in the works for "the Ed" to cheer on the St. Louis Rams and the NFL’s first openly gay player.
“There are currently no plans for Out at the Dome but it is something we would love to see,” explained Barnett. “The Rams have been very supportive of Michael Sam and I believe that the LGBT fans will respond favorably to that support. I'd like to see both the Cardinals and the Rams becoming more involved with the local LGBT community and Pride Festival.”
Join Pride St. Louis for the 5th Annual Out at the Ballpark Celebration taking place on Sunday August 3rd at 1:15 pm. Tickets are only $25 and are available at Soulard Bastille, Cheap Trx, Coffee Cartel, JJ's Clubhouse, Just John and Rehab Saint Louis. Enjoy the Gateway Men's Chorus and Charis: The St. Louis Women's Chorus as they perform "God Bless America" on the field at Busch Stadium. Catch the Red Bull Shuttle outside Just John for just $5 and all proceeds go to Pride St Louis. Enjoy Sunday Funday and the St. Louis Cardinals as they take on division rivals Milwaukee Brewers.