The ongoing World Series is shedding a bright light on the Washington Nationals' devotion to the LGBTQ rainbow nation. Compared to the Houston Astros, who ''do nothing'' to appease LGBTQ pressure groups, the Nationals are A-OK, writes Jim Buzinski on SB Nation's Outsports LGBT blog.
Despite some trivial similarities on the field, the Astros and National are "very divergent when it comes to public support for LGBTQ fans," Buzinski notes.
Houston is one of just two major league teams that didn't hold a pride event this season (the Texas Rangers also did not). The Nationals, on the other hand, rolled out the rainbow carpet for the 15th straight year and invited former Congressman Barney Frank's boyfriend Jim Ready to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before that game. The power couple stood together on the mound, thrilled LGBT fans with a kiss and announced their engagement that night.
The Nationals were so touched that they donated $1,500 to a Washington LGBTQ youth advocacy group.
Washington's love affair with the local rainbow nation goes much further. Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle is pitching in as "of the most pro-LGBTQ allies in sports," Buzinski writes. "Doolittle caught the first pitch at Pride night and this year wore cleats at the game that sported the Pride flag and trans flag." He hurled this tweet:
As a member of the Oakland Athetics four years ago, Doolittle challenged people uncomfortable with attending their Pride night to sell him their tickets. "No judgments. No questions asked," he promised.
Doolittle got extremely judgmental in 2018, though, when he called out major leaguers who tweeted gay slurs when they were younger. “Homophobic slurs are still used to make people feel soft or weak or otherwise inferior — which is bullshit. Some of the strongest people I know are from the LGBTQIA community. It takes courage to be your true self when your identity has been used as an insult or a pejorative.”
Stretching low for additional reasons to love on the Nats, Buzinski re-tells the 2015 story of homosexual bat boy Spenser Clark. “You see me picking up bats, providing the umpires balls, and doing anything else a player needs during the game," Clark said at the time. "My job is the best. Getting paid to watch baseball games is something I could only dream about when I was growing up in Kennesaw, Ga. I am living the dream.”
"Thank you, Spenser, and readers who reminded us of his story," Buzinski gushes.
Unfortunately, Buzinski has to call a strike on the Nationals for offending trans fan Ava Benach during the recent National League Championship Series. A trans-phobic security supervisor called "her" "sir." That left a bitter taste in Benach's mouth, and she resorted to watching the World Series from her couch instead of returning to the stadium.
"It’s incumbent on the Nationals to investigate this incident and ensure it never happens again," Buzinski says.
There's more painful truth shedding a bad light on this year's fall classic. Both teams have histories of players demonstrating homophobia.
Earlier this season, Major League Baseball punished Astros outfielder George Springer for calling umpire Angel Hernandez a “f***ing c***sucker.”