The iconic Stonewall Inn in modern-day New York | Photo: Instagram
The New York Yankees: they’re the Big Apple’s iconic baseball team, with one of the most recognisable sports franchises in the world.
They are also notoriously slow to embrace change.
Unlike their peers, the sports team had so far held out on hosting a LGBTI Pride celebration.
But as of next year, this is due to change.
The announcement that the Yankees had finally given the go-ahead for a Pride celebration in 2019 came as a welcome surprise to many, the New York Times reported.
It also led to speculation that the team finally gave in when faced with the prospect of being the only major-league baseball team never to have held a Pride event.
But breaking tradition and peer pressure are not the only things at play here.
For the Yankees, and countless other New Yorkers, 2019 will be different.
The Yankees’ celebration will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which began in New York’s Greenwich Village.
After a police raid at LGBTI hangout The Stonewall Inn in the summer of 1969, members of the LGBTI community took to the streets in protest against the abuse and discrimination they had faced for years. The demonstrations lasted for days, and often turned violent.
‘The anniversary of Stonewall every year is an emotional and seminal event for L.G.B.T. people — not just for those in New York City but around the world,’ said City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, told The Times.
‘To have an event in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium is a very special moment, and for me, as a former athlete, I’m going to be really proud to be there.’
The Yankees have worked with several LGBTI causes in behind-the-scenes capacities, such as working with groups that assist gay and transgender youths. The long-awaited ‘coming out’ in support of LGBTI issues will doubtless change things for the team, as will also set up big expectations from the future.
‘Stonewall is a perfect anniversary to do something special to make up for the fact that they were going to be the last team to hold a pride event,’ said Jim Buzinski, a founder of the website Outsports.
‘It’s a good thing. I just hope it’s not a one-off: “Well, we did Stonewall at 50 years”. The big question is, what are they going to do in 2020?’