The Mets’ seventh annual Pride Night was held Friday evening at Citi Field, during a time in which pride nights at major league games are being widely criticized and derided by players, politicians, and certain fans alike for various ridiculous objections. The Mets went in the other direction, holding a night that felt fully celebratory and didn’t concede to any objections that have been directed at other teams and pride nights, a decision that more teams need to make.
The night had all the hallmarks of previous Citi Field Pride Nights. There was various Pride signage around the field, with all the signs on the field saying “Pride Night 2023” before the game with the rainbow colors incorporated. The Mets gave away rainbow colored hand fans, a hilarious and thoughtful giveaway. They had a shirt video before the game celebrating Pride Night, featuring Francisco Lindor, Mark Canha (of course), and Pete Alonso. Drag queen Jan Sport sang the national anthem, comedian Matt Rogers threw out the first pitch, and out professional baseball player and country musician Bryan Ruby sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” They had Jason Collins in the stadium to meet with fans (alongside owner Alex Cohen) during the game, as well as survivors of the Colorado Springs mass shooting, and the veteran of the game also worked with SAGE, the group that provides advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders, who were recognized for their service before the game.
During the game, Mark Canha once again changed his walk-up music to various pride songs, “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift—specifically starting on the line “‘cause shade never made anybody less gay”—“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and “Vogue” by Madonna, with a note on the board mentioning that he had also picked Donna Summer’s “I’m Coming Out” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” but as he only got three plate appearances during the game, they weren’t played. The rain before the game meant the players didn’t warm up on the field before the game, but the Mets’ social media team put out photos of Canha, Lindor, Adam Ottavino, Mark Vientos, and Alex Cohen wearing the Mets Pride shirts that the team was selling with proceeds going to the Amazin’ Mets Foundation.
As with last year, it’s the last part that was the most heartening. Over the last month or so, with the drama surrounding the Dodgers honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag group that performs in nuns’ habits and also has spent the last 40+ years raising money for the LGBTQ+ community (guess which one of these got the bigger coverage), multiple players, including former Met Trevor Williams have spoken out about the discrimination that Christian players face, a bold-faced lie in a league with a player make-up is primarily Christian. So to have multiple members of the organization support the community, even in small ways, is incredibly welcome right now.
And maybe the most important one is co-owner Alex Cohen. Cohen wasn’t just wearing the shirt—and rainbow colored Converse—she also made her way down to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to hand out hand fans and seems to have taken a front-facing role in presenting the night. When the support for the evening and the community is coming from ownership, it helps cement the evening and keep it from being upended by the select few players who don’t “agree” with the goings on.
It’s common knowledge that the Mets have a few conservative players. Most notably, the Mets traded for Brooks Raley in the offseason, who was one of the Rays players who ripped the Pride patch off their jerseys during the Tampa Bay Rays’ Pride Night in 2022. But to have Canha, Lindor, and Ottavino show even small signs of support in wearing a shirt with a pride logo on it, by having players like Scherzer (not pictured in a pride shirt but who has supported pride in the past and with prior organizations) and Alonso appearing in the pride video shown in stadium, it does a world of good in a league that has been continually tripping over it’s own feet for Pride Nights this year.
The Dodgers had to shut down their main gate before yesterday’s game due to protests of their Pride Night. The Mets had no such protest, and in fact the game had an electric energy. I’ve been to several big games, multiple Subway Series games, Opening Days, last year’s no-hitter. And this was one of the best gamesI’ve ever attended in terms of crowd energy. It was like a party the whole night, people got as into the between innings activities as they did the games, every hit and strikeout was treated with the utmost urgency. It was just a fun game, which was amplified by the fact the Mets were in the middle of a bad funk, so if fans had some malaise it’d be incredible. But you’d never know the Mets were playing below .500 baseball by the crowd.
It’s been a rough time for the LGBTQ+ community as of late. Attacks on the trans community writ large in legislative houses across the country, drag performances becoming battlegrounds for political extremism, and the demonization of the community by right-wing talking heads and internet grifters. Pride Month has now taken on a new context. It seems to be changing from the celebration it seemed to be morphing into with the expansion of gay rights in the early 2010s back to the resistance of earlier decades.
But sometimes, you need to forget all the worry and strife the community faces, even for just a few hours. And the Mets accomplished that. The Mets found a way to make a fun, well-meaning, drama-free Pride night that garnered envy on social media from other sports fans who didn’t get this kind of Pride Night. With loud, public buy-in from the player level and the ownership level, the Mets found a way to celebrate a community that has been dealing with constant attacks over the last calendar year. It’s rainbow capitalism, but it’s rainbow capitalism done right, in a way other teams can’t even muster up the energy to do. Plus, hey, the Mets won! Maybe EVERY night should be Pride Night.