By Laura Latzko
The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team has worked to build a diverse fan base that includes members of the LGBT community. With its annual Pride Night, the team looks to show its support for the LGBT community.
The D-Backs will celebrate Pride Night on Friday, June 21, with a T-shirt giveaway, a pregame social hour, special in-game activities, a postgame fireworks show, themed food and beverage items and a pregame parade.
All Pride Night tickets come with a three-quarter-sleeved, rainbow-themed D-Backs T-shirt and the chance to participate in a pregame parade. Some tickets also include pregame access to the Coors Light Strike Zone, where there will be DJed music, a private bar, swag giveaways, and a meet-and-greet.
Pride Night has grown in popularity from 400 attendees the first year to over 1,800 in 2018.
This year, Kaycee Clark, winner of “Big Brother 20” will throw out the first pitch. My-King Johnson, the first openly gay scholarship player in college football, will also take part in game festivities.
Prior to the game, the D-Backs will recognize LGBT youth organizations such as one n ten and bring attention to some of the issues facing LGBT youth.
Nick Caprio and Matt Jacobi, a local couple working with Mattel on a same-sex wedding set, will serve as grand marshals of the pregame parade.
Local organizations and individuals can also participate in the on-field parade, held prior to the game against the San Francisco Giants. The parade goes along the warning track from the visiting to the home bullpen.
Last year, over 400 people took parade in the pregame parade.
Over the last few years, different major league teams have held special Pride nights.
Billy Bean has worked with baseball teams to promote inclusive and equal environments for all employees.
In his role at the MLB organization, the former professional baseball player is the Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner. He advises on human rights issues, particularly those with an LGBTQ focus.
Bean came out after retiring from baseball, which he played professionally from 1987 to 1995. Last year, he served as the grand marshal of the D-Backs Pride Night parade.
D-Backs President and CEO Derrick Hall said diversity, inclusion and equality are core values for the D-Backs organization.
“We talk about, here at the Diamondbacks all the time, the importance of embracing inclusion, so [Pride Night] is a natural tie-in to who we are and what we practice each and every day,” Hall said.
Along with Pride Night, the team also hosts special events such as Native American Recognition and Hispanic Heritage days.
Hall said the D-Backs have worked to make Chase Field an inclusive environment for fans from different backgrounds.
“I think every game is a way to celebrate, invite and welcome all diverse audiences … I want communities such as the LGBT community to know that they are welcome every game and that every game is a Pride game,” Hall said.
The team has had a presence at the Phoenix Pride Parade and Festival and the Sports Diversity Leadership Council and has worked with organizations such as Phoenix Pride, the Latino Pride Alliance, one n ten and Media Out Loud.
The D-Backs were one of the first local teams to sign ONE Community’s Unity Pledge, a commitment by local businesses to promote equal treatment in the workplace.
For LGBTQ employees such as Noel Guevara, coordinator of special events and community outreach, Pride Night is a time to celebrate ties to the LGBT community and to the Diamondbacks organization.
During the game, many LGBTQ employees and allies will don patches or pins to show their affiliation with and support of the LGBTQ community and invite their significant others, children and other family members to the game.
Over the last three years, Guevara has helped with organizing Pride Night and creating ties between the D-Backs and LGBT community.
She said it is important to have straight allies and LGBT employees involved in planning of the event.
“I think it helps steer the ship if you have people that are part of the community because we are passionate about it,” Guevara said.
Recently, Guevara threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Arizona Fall League’s first annual Pride Night.
She comes from an athletic background herself as a soccer player. From 2008 to 2011, she played Division 1 soccer while attending NAU.
Growing up in Phoenix, she frequently attended D-Backs games as part of different educational programs. She said working for the D-Backs has been a good fit for her.
Guevara has lived in Phoenix from the time she was around eight years old.
“It was a dream come true for me when I first started … I took a huge sense of pride just representing the community. I knew the community well and thought I could be an asset,” Guevara said.
When she started with the D-Backs, she worked in the inside sales department.
Guevara didn’t come out until working the D-Backs for several years, first establishing a reputation and brand within the organization. She said for her, it has been important to visible as an LGBTQ, female and Hispanic employee.
“I realized that that was a huge part of me and that I needed to step up and be more vocal … It sometimes takes someone to step up and say, ‘Yeah, I’m a part of this group, and I’m a D-Backs employee, and I am proud of it.’ This isn’t only who I am. I’m also a female. I’m also Hispanic. I’m also proud to be a part of those minorities as well,” Guevara said.