As many people are aware, last night was a special night at Tropicana Field. It was Pride Night in the wake of the Pulse massacre in which 50 LGBT people were murdered last week. All the ticket proceeds were going to the victims, and the Rays were holding a blood drive as well as using the 50/50 Raffle to raise funds. While the outcome of the game was disappointing–the Rays lost 5-1 and Chris Archer continues his struggles on the mound–the game itself was secondary to the joy and good will that permeated the stadium. Everywhere people where smiling, hugging, laughing, and waving the little rainbow flags that the Rays gave away. It felt like the most laid back playoff game you have ever attended. You could really feel the love. I know how corny this sounds, trust me. I’m originally from the Bronx.
Normally I’d choke on a cucumber before listening to a song like this, but really, this is what it felt like:
I am so torn between knowing how sappy this is, and sincerely trying to communicate the emotion in that stadium. I guess it’s okay to be sappy sometimes.
It felt like the stadium had a heartbeat. It pulsed. The colors, so vibrant. Everywhere people were high fiving, saying hello, and smiling. Giants fans, Rays fans. We were all there for one common cause: to show love and support to a community that for too long has felt like outsiders, unwanted merely for being who they are. No more. We are all in this together. Tolerance? No. We tolerate things that bother us. Love, accept, nurture, as we should everyone. To have Major League Baseball, which traditionally has been a very conservative sport, open its arms so lovingly to EVERYONE–I thought I was going to burst with joy and pride. My sport that I love so much. Thank you.
Last Saturday, you saw humanity at its worst. Yesterday, I saw humanity at its best. Fans raised $300,000 for victims. They were lined up to donate blood. I am telling you, it was like something out of a movie. Just this positive vibe permeating everything. No hate, just love.
Early in the day, I realized I had a surplus of tickets. I could not in good conscience sell them on stubhub. I had to give them away. I went on Facebook on the Rays page for people going to the game. I saw one person looking for two tickets. Her photo said, “My God Loves Everyone.” I responded to her, “I like your God. This is a legitimate offer, I have 2 extra tickets. They are yours.” I left my phone number for her to text. We coordinated meeting at Ferg’s later. It turns out they were this drop dead gorgeous engaged lesbian couple. They bought me a drink that far exceeded the cost of the tickets. I didn’t drink much of it, but I appreciated the gesture. They were amazing; we have plans to go to another game together.
The National Anthem was sung with the Stars and Stripes surrounded by two Rainbow Flags at its side. “O’er the Land of the Free…” The Free to love whomever you want, to be whomever and “The Home of the Brave.” The Brave Ones who stand up and say so no more. The past is not acceptable. We can do better.
Sung by Una Voce, the Florida Men’s Chorale
Here is a picture taken of my friends and I as we were leaving the stadium. When I got home and saw it on my laptop, it took my breath away. Every color and nationality is represented in this picture: White, black, Asian, Native American, name it. Every person in this picture is a mutt; we are America. The glow behind us of Tropicana Field looked like heaven. Probably because most of it is obscured, I have never seen the Trop look so beautiful.
The sun beckons. This is Florida. I am going to enjoy the morning with my children. Go hug someone. Hug yourself if you can’t find anyone. Be nice to each other.
Happy Saturday. May your team win. Except the Red Sox.
I picked a really bad time to stop drinking whiskey.