New York Mets Host First Pride Night, Complete With Gay-Kiss Cam

It marked the first time one of New York's major men's sports teams held an LGBT-themed night.

Pride Nights are increasingly a common part of pro sports team’s annual calendar, and Saturday night the New York Mets held their first.

Jonathan Thompson
Billy Bean, Major League Baseball’s chief inclusion officer, threw the first pitch at Citi Fields, where the Mets were up against his old team, the San Diego Padres.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13:  Former MLB player, and current VP of Social Responsibility and Inclusion, Billy Bean throws out the ceremonial first pitch of a game between the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on August 13, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets are hosting the first ever Pride Night in New York major sports league history.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“The message is everyone is welcome that walks through the turnstiles to watch us play baseball,” Bean told the Daily News. “The LGBT community is part of every community.”

Theme nights are common in Major League Baseball—spotlighting everything from Jewish heritage to pet adoption—but last night was the first time one of New York’s four major pro teams held a Pride night. (The Mets are now one of 10 teams in the league to do so.)

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Jonathan Thompson

The goal, say organizers, is to create a more accepting atmosphere both in the stands and in the bullpen.

Mets Pride night
Getty Images

“A lot of people forget our players are 19, 20, 21 years old,” Bean says. “They’re world class baseball players, [but] they haven’t had time to learn all the ways of the world.”

He admits that work still needs to be done to end casual slurs in the locker room: “It was acceptable to be disparaging. When guys are ragging other guys, they feminize them,” says Bean. “The comments were sexist as much as they were homophobic.”

While players need to come out in their own time, its MLB’s responsibility to make sure there’s a friendly environment awaiting them. With Saturday’s event, says Bean, the Mets “sent a great message not only to their fans, but for all of baseball.”

mets pride night
Monica R. Menendez

The stadium certainly got into the spirit, with the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band playing on the field and the giant Coca-Cola sign lit up in rainbow lights.

The kiss-cam caught several same-sex smooches.

met pride kiss-cam
Jonathan Thompson
jonathan thompson

And Styx played a post-game set, with out band member Chuck Panozzo on bass.

styx pride night mets
Jonathan Thompson

A portion of ticket sales will go to the LGBT Network’s Safe Schools Initiative.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.