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The importance of post-June Pride

Because we’re still gay on July 1

We’re more than a week out from Pride Month, and all the social media accounts of big corporations have changed their rainbow profile pictures as the clock rolled over to July 1. However, pride and queerness don’t just go away as if we’re all anxiously awaiting 11:59.

Two excellent pieces were published on South Side Sox ahead of Pride Night at the ballpark, one from someone on the inside, and another thoughtful piece from an ally self-reflecting on the day. Every story is important, but that doesn’t change after June. Pride is 365 days a year for the queer community. Unfortunately, so many disagree, even to the point of trying to take away basic human rights from the LGBTQ+ community. Health coverage for transitioning is being stripped away. People are allowed to take a “what-if” case to the Supreme Court just in case they want to start making wedding websites for customers, but are too bigoted to create a site for a queer couple.

But what does any of this have to do with baseball? And even more, why do so many teams have a Pride Night? First off: Some baseball fans are queer! Teams host so many theme nights each season, and wear special pink hats for Mother’s Day and blue hats for Father’s Day. Not everyone is a parent, and not everyone celebrates either holiday. (As a daughter of an absent and now deceased father, I’ve always struggled.) But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be celebrated. Just because you don’t like country music or Elvis doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t be able to enjoy a night tailored to their interests.

OK, let’s correlate this to baseball a little bit more. Meet Anderson Comás.

Comás is not the first baseball player to come out as gay. In fact, he follows in the footsteps of many players. The first MLB player to come out was Glenn Burke, just years after he retired. Just this past month, Burke was honored over on the North Side as he was inducted into Chicago’s Legacy Walk. The Cubs made a donation that will create a monument for Burke on Boystown’s Legacy Walk.

Stretching over a half mile down Halsted Street through the heart of Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, the Legacy Walk honors some of the most notable LGBTQ figures in history with bronze plaques describing their lives on giant rainbow pylons. He will become the first athlete to be honored.

“They can’t ever say that a gay man can’t play in the Majors, because I’m a gay man and I did it.” - Glenn Burke

Comás also joins Sean Conroy, David Denson, TJ House, two MLB umpires (Dave Pallone and Dale Scott), and the legendary former MLB player-turned-MLB’s VP of Social Responsibility & Inclusion, Billy Bean.

Major League Baseball will always have representation from the LGBTQ+ community, whether anyone in the organization is out, closeted, or a good ally. (Unless you’re the Texas Rangers, I guess.)

Speaking of allies, the White Sox are fortunate enough to have one of the best in the league, Liam Hendriks.

“It wasn’t a demand. It was a simple question of, ‘Do you guys have a Pride Night?’” Hendriks explained, “And if you don’t, that will be something that we need to look into that working out, making sure that we can handle it, because I don’t want to go necessarily to a team that doesn’t do it.” — Liam Hendriks in The Athletic

Upon arriving to the South Side, Hendriks immediately became the face of the team’s LGBTQ community relations, requesting to personally raise the Sox Pride flag at Guaranteed Rate Field in uniform and a Howard Brown Health hoodie—a tribute to Chicago’s longstanding LGBTQ-affirming medical establishment. Hendriks proudly raises awareness for Howard Brown Health and Center on Halsted, two local places that help members of the community.

Knowing the support Comás has from his organization is big, and ideally, that support will translate to others.

Now for the inspiration behind all of this, Comás recently made his full-season pitching debut for the Cannon Ballers — on Pride Night.

The community doesn’t need rainbow capitalism that ends in June. Instead, we need representation and inclusion in everything we’re passionate about all year. For me, that’s baseball. Hearing the stories of openly gay players feels like a giant leap closer to what once felt like a slow-moving climb.

Despite the many pitfalls to being a fan of this team, I am proud to feel more included knowing this team celebrates players like Comás and Hendriks, and continues to host Pride Night every June.

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