SunTrust Park will be a little more colorful on June 23.
That night, the Atlanta Braves will host its annual LGBT Night — complete with rainbow souvenirs. It will be the first at the new stadium.
Ben Nicoara, an Atlanta resident, attended the 2016 LGBT Night as part of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, which was invited to sing at the event. He’s already got his tickets purchased for this year’s game.
“I was a little surprised that that was even going on,” he said. “Last year they had a pre-game event and there was food and drink and stuff, and the chorus performed there and a few people spoke. It was a very welcoming environment and space, which isn’t typical in sports.”
This year’s LGBT Night takes place against the Milwaukee Brewers. A portion of every ticket sold will benefit the homeless youth organization Lost-n-Found Youth, and folks can purchase a ticket package that includes a limited-edition rainbow-logo ball cap. There will also be a pre-game party with a cash bar at the Xfinity Rooftop, and Bravos fans are invited to chop after dark alongside the postgame fireworks.
Nicoara told Georgia Voice he thinks it’s important for LGBT fans and allies to come to Pride nights as a showing of support, and to stay visible.
“That’s the first step in getting people to understand and not be afraid about things they might not know,” he said. “While we’ve made some big advancements and fight for our rights, I think there’s still a lot to do, especially now after our change in our national government and some of the attitudes around that have not been great for us.”
He said during the game last year, when it was announced over the loudspeaker it was Pride night, the stadium filled with cheers.
“I didn’t hear anybody boo about it,” Nicoara said. “That just goes to show there’s more accepting sports fans than those that aren’t.”
The Braves aren’t the only Atlanta team that host an event to show support for LGBT fans — last year, the Hawks hosted a Unity Night, and the Atlanta Dream will also play a Pride Night game on June 23. Nicoara said he hopes Atlanta United, the city’s new soccer team, will join in, too.
Braves players also made the news after coming on the field following an incident with a Toronto Blue Jays player who used a homophobic slur on Atlanta’s pitcher. Nicoara said he appreciated the team coming out against that rhetoric.
“It was really great to see our teams’ organizations really be aware of what’s going on and to make a statement about it, and change the mindset of people that understand what is and what’s not acceptable at sports matches,” he said.
Atlanta Braves LGBT Night Friday, June 23 Pregame party at the Xfinity Rooftop: 6 p.m. First pitch at 7:35 p.m. SunTrust Park, 755 Battery Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30339 LGBT Night ticket package: $32, available at www.m.mlb.com/braves/tickets/info/lgbt-night