Hutton Marshall | GSD Assistant Editor
Pride to expand the ‘Out’ series at county fair
Each year as summer nears, hundreds from the community put on their Padres hats and jerseys — and sometimes, their boas — and head down to Petco Park to celebrate “Out at the Park.” Throughout the year, San Diego Pride seeks to create a visible, positive presence for the LGBT community, and tailgating, grabbing a hot dog, and watching the Padres play has speedily grown to become a favorite way of doing so.
This year, Out at the Park took place on April 19, when the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants, 3-2. And the game’s outcome was enhanced by the true reason for attending: showing that the LGBT community, their friends, and their family enjoy baseball just as much as anyone.
Since 2007, Pride has partnered with the Padres to offer tickets to a special section at a discounted price through Pride’s website. They also hold a huge tailgate in the parking lot beforehand, with plenty of food and drink donated by Urban MO’s. This year, the section spread across 900 seats, and tickets didn’t last long.
“We’ve never sold out this quickly,” said Fernando Lopez, Pride’s public affairs director. “Usually people kind of wait till the last week or even the day before. We sold out a month before the event, which was crazy.
“Then we managed to find 100 extra tickets in our section and those were gone in four days.”
Lopez said the Padres have long been supportive of helping Pride create a visible, welcoming space at these games. The cameramen are quick to throw the usually colorful crowd up on the jumbotron, especially when Pride’s giant rainbow flag emerges in the section.
No ill will was reported at this year’s game, Lopez reported, but he also said that Pride’s first Out at the Park in 2007 wasn’t wholly without controversy.
The U-T San Diego reported on a relatively unsuccessful boycott at that first game, where approximately 75 Christian conservatives congregated outside the stadium holding signs such as “Homo sex is a sin” in an attempt to deter people from attending the game. Only about 1,600 of the 42,685 seats in the stadium were unfilled that evening, a sign that few if any were actually deterred.
“It’s just funny to see how far we’ve come in just seven years,” said Lopez, who now feels the full support of the Padres and the community at large behind pride at the annual game.
The San Diego Women’s Chorus (SDWC) had a successful night of their own this year, getting the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at Petco Park for the very first time — a dream for many members of the chorus, said its president Carin Scheinin.
“It was fantastic,” said Sheinin, who joined the SDWC in 2002. “It was one of the greatest experiences that I’ve personally had in the chorus.”
This was also Sheinin’s first year to sit in the Out at the Park section and experience the game amid the boas and rainbow flags that make the section a jumbotron favorite. She said Pride events like this show that the LGBT community is just another positive, fun-loving part of the community that values family and a good baseball game.
“It says to people that we’re as all American as anyone else,” Scheinin said. “I think the more people see that ‘here’s this group of people that are just here to have fun and enjoy a day out at baseball like everyone else,’ the better.”
Following the success of Out at the Park, Pride will take to the San Diego County Fair this year to hold the first “Out at the Fair” on June 14. It was actually the county fair that reached out to Pride to suggest incorporating another “Out at …” event into the unofficial “Gay Days” event the fair had held the last few years, which Lopez said fit perfectly with the idea of creating an LGBT presence in fun, family-friendly places in San Diego.
Pride has already been partnering with local LGBT organizations to create a free space for nonprofits at the event. A series of local LGBT artists will be featured across two of the fair’s stages that day as well.
But the opportunities to promote a visible, family-oriented LGBT community doesn’t stop there, said Lopez. He envisions “Out at the Zoo” and “Out at SeaWorld” — if the controversy dies down, that is — as possible future events.
“I think there are a lot of other venues that our community participates in — and it’s not just pride, and it’s not just bars and clubs — there’s a multitude of interests across the spectrum of the LGBT community,” Lopez said. “Whatever we can do to create an inviting and welcoming space for that, whatever your interests might be, I think that’s the long term goal.”
Visit outatthefairsd.com or sdpride.org for more information about “Out at the Fair.”