LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Fans in attendance of Friday's Pride Night at Dodger Stadium enjoyed the game and celebration of the LGBTQ community, despite the thousands of protesters outside who opposed the team's decision to include the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in their event.
AIR7HD captured the crowd making their way to the stadium holding up signs and waving flags before the game got underway.
"There are nuns who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ, and now you've got this group of people who are mocking nuns, dressing up as nuns," said Luella Wagner of Woodland Hills, who was out with the protesters.
Some in the crowd said the gathering was a prayer, and not a protest.
"This is prayer, not a protest. We are basically praying for the so called nuns," said Jesse Bustamante of Whittier. "We should be tolerant of everyone. Likewise, they should be tolerant of our faith in our feelings."
Fans were still able to make their way into the stadium and the Sisters were given their Community Hero award from the Dodgers in a small ceremony before the game. Eventually, the stands filled up with people ready to celebrate Pride and watch a baseball game.
"Initially, I was upset that they rescinded the invitation for the Sisters, but when they inevitably offered it back, I was grateful they did," said Victoria Weinert, a Dodger fan at the game.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts made it clear all were welcome at the ballpark ahead of the game as well.
"I love everyone... Anyone who wants to come in and support the Dodgers, I'm all in, we're all in," said Roberts.
Although the team ended up losing the game in 11 innings to the division rival San Francisco Giants, for many, the night was still a win.
"I stopped coming to Dodger stadium years ago. They came last year and had such a good time it was all about family, and everyone had a good time. And I'm like, 'Okay, I'll give it a new try,' and so far it's been beautiful," said Alicia Orozco, a Dodger fan in attendance at Friday's game. "It's a great day to get out with family and embrace those who some people think are unembraceable and unlovable. So it's just nice!"
After a month of often-vitriolic debate and a well-publicized change of heart by the team, the Dodgers are hosting their annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night despite angering the Catholic Church and Christian organizations due to the inclusion of the self-described "queer and trans nuns."
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who are members of the LGBTQ+ community who dress in religious-looking garb, will receive a Community Hero Award during the Pride Night celebration, honoring the group's efforts to promote human rights, diversity and "spiritual enlightenment."
The group says they are not mocking the Catholic Church and are a nonprofit that aims to help the LGBTQ+ community.
"The idea of being a fake nun is also a little problematic, mostly because we do take vows of service to the LGBTQ community for nonprofit work and it is the kind of vow that you take for the rest of your life, so it is very similar to the kind of care work a nun would do," said Sister Electra-Complex.
When the Dodgers first announced plans to honor the group, the team was met with vocal opposition from various Catholic groups and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who called the organization's choice of garb an affront to ordained nuns, and the Sisters' overall behavior a lewd mockery of Christianity in general.
Bowing to the pressure, the Dodgers on May 5 withdrew the group's invitation, a move that prompted even more criticism from local elected officials and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, who said the entire message of the Pride movement is one of inclusion, and that banning the Sisters was deemed an affront to that mission.
With many of the area's most prominent LGBTQ+ organizations vowing to skip the Dodger Pride event, the team reversed course on May 22, apologizing to the Sisters group and again inviting its members to take part in Pride Night.
About a week later, the Dodgers announced the team will host a "Christian Faith and Family Day" at Dodger Stadium on July 30.
The event was first announced earlier that day by Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who tweeted, "Excited to announce the relaunch of Christian Faith and Family Day at Dodger Stadium on July 30th. More details to come -- but we are grateful for the opportunity to talk about Jesus and determined to make it bigger and better than it was before COVID."
The last Christian event was at Dodger Stadium in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
But that move did little to appease Catholic groups, who again blasted the Dodgers for choosing to honor the Sisters organization.
Hoping to offset the Dodger event, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez dedicated a Mass on Friday "for healing due to the harm caused by the Dodgers decision to honor a group that intentionally denigrates and profanes the Christian faith."
"Religious freedom and respect for the beliefs of others are hallmarks of our nation. When God is insulted, when the beliefs of any of our neighbors are ridiculed, it diminishes all of us," the archbishop said.
Some fans of the Dodgers are not holding back on their criticism of the team for its inclusion of the Sisters as well.
"The Dodgers are not honoring their own policy. They have a dress code. I can't go in there dressed in ways that would offend other people. This is offending people," said Michael Galarza.
City News Service contributed to this report.