Don’t let the cold weather fool you. Spring is only weeks away and baseball is on the minds of many in the city of St. Louis. Riding the high of last week’s Super Bowl win for Missouri’s Kansas City Chiefs, heads are turning to the eastern state line where Cardinals fans are already oiling their mitts and thinking about catching that fly ball. Summer vacations are being planned around game days and fan support for season 2020 is soaring.
For the St. Louis Cardinals support is a two-way street and this club likes to throw it back to their fans. On Friday, June 19, Busch Stadium will be hosting their annual St. Louis Cardinals annual Pride Night. LGBTQ+ friends, family, and allies will come together to see the Cardinals take on the Cincinnati Reds for this year’s Theme Night.
With the purchase of the Theme Ticket fans will also receive a Cardinals rainbow mesh cap and a wearable rainbow flag. There will be a pre-game party in Budweiser Terrace and a special performance of God Bless America by St. Louis’ Gateway Men’s Chorus.
Major League Baseball is no stranger to hosting Pride Nights across the nation. In 2019 all but two teams held Pride events to recognize their LGBTQ+ fans. Pride events are certainly nothing new to St. Louis sports. The St. Louis Blues and Cardinals have been recognizing the queer community for years with rainbow swathed theme events.
This year the Cardinals are taking their support over the proverbial fence and stepping up their Pride game. A portion of every Pride Night Theme ticket sold will be donated to the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG). This is the first time any MLB has singled out support for a transgender advocacy group by offering financial support of the work they do in the community.
This is not the first time that MLB has acknowledged members of the trans community. In the first official Pride Night in 2017 Cardinal Nation witnessed the first known transgender woman, Tassandra Crush, throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Busch Stadium. And baseball fans may also remember last season when Sean Dolittle of the Washington Nationals painted the rainbow and trans flags on his cleats to show his allyship and support.
The connection between the Cardinals and MTUG speaks to the importance of trans visibility and inclusion. In the off season MTUG took their Trans 101 training on the road and presented their program to Cardinals and Busch Stadium staff. But the offering of financial support is more than a simple reciprocal gesture from the Cardinals – it shows that they truly “get it.” They understand that there is more to LGBTQ+ support than just waving a rainbow flag.
“I know in this city the Cards are a big deal. For them to center a transgender organization; that’s a big deal and a real statement of inclusion,” raised Sayer Johnson, MTUG Executive Director. “It’s hope in the form of a red bird perched on a bat. I think about trans kids having that visibility. It’s powerful.”
To take the Pride support a step further than other teams in the league have offered sends a strong message to those who would restrict or disallow transgender persons from participating in sports. There is currently pending legislation in a number of states that, if passed, would require trans youth to participate in sports according to their birth sex. This bias also reaches into rules for athletes in the Olympics as well as a number of other sports organizations.
“It’s hope in the form of a red bird perched on a bat. It’s powerful.” – Sayer Johnson, MTUG Executive Director
Elaine Brune, MTUG Board President and Redbird fan, understands well the impact of this year’s Pride Night. They shared, “I am so pleased that the Cardinals are donating proceeds from the Pride event to Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG). I have been a lifelong Cardinals fan and to see them centering a Trans organization is beyond exciting. This is a beacon of hope in light of all of the anti-transgender legislation being proposed in the state of Missouri. Especially young, trans athletes who need to compete as their authentic self, aligning to their gender identity. For them to see successful, confident, trans expansive adults as a possibility for themselves gives them hope and purpose for the future. It is fantastic to see the Cardinals organization reach out to the trans community in this way.”
For years queer fans have struggled to find a fit in baseball. Many have avoided live events due to discouraging homophobia from other fans. The MLB is working to shift that dynamic by introducing events that welcome proud LGBTQ+ fans and create a space where they can comfortably be their authentic selves. St. Louis is leading this charge in 2020.
It’s no surprise that St. Louis is the first to throw support beyond the rainbow flag and directly to the trans community. St. Louis is known for leading the way and the 2020 season is no exception. Cardinal fans will see that this community action is just one of a number of firsts for the Cardinals’ 2020 season.
To attend Pride Night 2020 and show your support of the Cardinals and the St. Louis LGBTQ+ community be sure that you are purchasing a Theme Night ticket for June 19.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group’s mission is to bring together the community of trans, non-binary, genderqueer, androgynous, intersex & our allies in the St. Louis metro area through community, visibility, advocacy, and education. If you’d like to invite MTUG to provide training for your company or organization, contact them at Metro Trans Umbrella Group.