In 2001, LGBTQ community leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Padres staff at a press conference, announcing the first official OUT at the Park night, scheduled to take place the very next day. The next day was September 11, and that game never happened. The leadership at the Padres changed, and the official partnership was lost.
OUT at the Park nights took place prior to 2001 and have continued on since then, but for a time, our organization was treated as little more than a bulk-ticket buyer. In partnership with America’s Finest City Softball League, Pride has carried on the OUT at the Park tradition, with the San Diego Women’s Chorus and the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus singing the national anthem because we all have understood the importance of combating homophobia in major league sports; however, it would take the horrible national anthem mistake in 2016 with the SDGMC and the onslaught of homophobic remarks being yelled from the stands to spark dialog and rekindle a genuine partnership.
Since that time, the Padres have completely revamped their approach to working with us and have become true allies. Petco Park became the first Major League Baseball park to have a gender-neutral, multi-stall restroom. The Padres have had our Pride Youth Marching Band play during the pregame party, with LGBTQ servicemembers from our military department’s color guard presenting the colors. They have also had trans youth throw out the first pitch. They have donated tens of thousands of dollars to support the LGBTQ community. They have sent Padres volunteers to help out during Pride weekend, and every year since 2016 their staff joins ours along with LGBTQ elected officials, the SDWC, and SDGMC to sing the national anthem in solidarity.
This year, as Prides all over the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and the Padres celebrate their 50th anniversary, we hope that you will join us to celebrate this historic milestone. The path to equality, equity, and inclusion isn’t always a direct one, but with persistence, our legacy will be one of liberation and joy.
P.S. We sell out of tickets every year, and with this being Pride and Padres 50/50, we fully anticipate selling out of the tickets that each come with a limited edition 50th Anniversary Commemorative ball cap. Don’t delay.