Sports have always brought people together. That’s a big reason that they have been so popular for decades.
But in our ever-polarized world around political lines, sports have taken a hit. Whether it involved NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem or NBA players supporting Black Lives Matter, sports and sports journalism have become increasingly political the last few years.
Baseball, and specifically the Los Angeles Dodgers, became the focus of controversy over the last two weeks when the team invited, then un-invited and then issued a welcome once again a group known as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a well-known San Francisco group of queer and trans people dressed as nuns at the team’s annual Pride Night on June 16.
As many noted, there’s no way a sports franchise would have given this kind of salute to a group of traditional Catholics opposed by cultural progressives, a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor.
What took place during this entire saga is a series of predictable news-media coverage twists and turns guided by professionals who, it appears, saw this issue from their own left-right vantage points. Modern journalism is often criticized for building narratives and reading minds rather than reporting facts and interviewing both sides. This story fit that mold.
While the news coverage lacked voices from both sides in this debate, most of the reports also lacked another very important term — anti-Catholic.
Are these “nuns” anti-Catholic? It certainly depends on which side of this debate you are on and many news outlets made that clear and, thus, ignored citizens whose views were found to be heretical, in terms of current newsroom dogmas.
Take, for example, the Los Angeles Times feature that ran on May 25 that included a photo shoot with the “nuns.” Here’s how that piece opened:
Ask the L.A. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence why they decided to join the order of drag nuns, and most of them will tell you it’s because they felt the call.
Sister Tootie Toot (glitter green lips, dark beard, emerald cocktail dress) felt it like a ton of bricks when she walked into a leather bar where several sisters had assembled.
Sister Unity (tangerine veil, tangerine eye makeup, furry tangerine stole) felt it like a tingling mix of fire, ice and electricity when she happened upon the original order of sisters blessing the crowd at a pride parade in San Francisco. And Sister Candy Cide of the Immaculate Misconception (long-sleeve black dress, white bib, several strands of fake pearls) was struck by the feeling of power emanating from a group of visiting drag nuns walking down the street at an L.A. Pride event.
“I was still feeling the guilt that I was going to let my parents down because of who I was,” she said. “When I found out the message of the sisters was about removing stigmatic guilt and repairing people’s joy, I was like, ‘I need to do that for myself, and I need to do it for other people too.’”
With their signature white makeup, oversize wimples (they call them Hoobie Doobies) and supersize lashes, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence turn heads wherever they go. But the group’s national profile soared to new heights recently when the Dodgers announced that they would recognize the sisters with a community heroes award, rescinded the award after pushback from conservative Catholic groups and then reinstated it — all over the course of a whirlwind few days.
The sisters reaccepted the award as Dodgers leadership vowed to better educate themselves. Instead of bitterness, the sisters offered up a benediction:
May the games be blessed!
May the players be blessed!
May the fans be blessed!
May the beer and hot dogs flow forth in tasty abundance!
While some might have found it difficult to forgive the Dodgers, that’s not the sisters’ way, said Sister June Cleavage, a cisgender female member of the group. (The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence welcome people of “every gender, race, romantic alignment, class, species, phylum, beverage preference, & sexual proclivity,” according to their website.)
It’s a glowing feature that reads more like add content. The only mention of the other side in this debate is this singular paragraph:
The sisters’ mission statement is “the expiation of stigmatic guilt and the promulgation of universal joy,” but since their inception, they’ve been called diabolical and anti-Catholic and accused by their detractors of mocking Catholic nuns.
Note “they’ve been called.” There is no need to include specific actions, rites and pronouncements that would support that point of view. Some would not, of course, be safe for viewing in non-hip family homes.
Throughout the mainstream press coverage of this saga, the stories followed this cookie-cutter pattern: Dodgers invite a group of well-meaning performers (who happen to dress as Catholic nuns) to a worthy annual event and conservatives (religious and political) pounce.
Nothing to see here. Move along.