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New York Yankees Set To Become Only MLB Team Not To Host LGBTQ Pride Night

NEW YORK (CBS News) -- The New York Yankees are known for standing out from the rest of the league. But this time, the 27-time World Series champions are taking some heat for it. They could soon become the only Major League Baseball team not to hold an LGBTQ Pride Night event.

Twenty-four of the MLB's 30 teams are set to hold gay pride celebrations this season and a total of 28 teams have held such events at some point. This week, Forbes reported the Los Angeles Angels will join the ranks by holding a Pride Night in June 2019. That would leave the Yankees as the lone holdout.

"Pride Nights are really important to show the LGBTQ community that they are just as welcome as anyone else," New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the first openly gay man to hold that job and noted Red Sox fan, told CBS News in a statement. "The Yankees are one of the most famous sporting teams in the world. They should be leading by example."

"Let's be honest — for a long time the world of sports felt closed off to gay people. Even now there are very few openly gay professional athletes," he added.

The Yankees have previously participated in GLAAD's Spirit Day Campaign, which is organized by the group and the MLB to show support for LGBTQ youth.

"As a lifelong Yankees fan, some of my favorite memories growing up are with my family at the games and when I came out it would have meant the world to me to see the Yankees recognize my community," Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's chief communications officer, told CBS News in a statement.

"Though the Yankees have a history of being supportive of LGBTQ people, a LGBTQ Pride Night is a major moment to make sure all fans feel included in the game," Ferraro said.

The Yankees' crosstown rival, the New York Mets, first held a Pride celebration during the 2016 season — the first of its kind among any Big Apple sports teams, the Mets said at the time.

David Kilmnick, CEO of the LGBT Network, was the first person to pitch the idea of Pride Night to the Mets, according to NBC News, and he said he tried to do the same with the Yankees, despite being a lifelong Mets fan.

It's not only LGBTQ events, though — the Yankees have mostly avoided promotions with an "ethnic or cultural flavor," The New York Times noted last year.

The Yankees did not respond to CBS News' request for comment, but a team spokesman told The Times that while the Yankees have chosen to refrain from holding a gay pride event at Yankee Stadium, there has been involvement "behind the scenes."

"Everyone of every nationality, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation and/or preference is welcome at Yankee Stadium every day," Jason Zillo told The Times in a 2017 statement. "We are a long-term believer in diversity and inclusion, and have always looked to create a safe and supportive environment for all fans to enjoy their experience here."

The sports world as a whole has slowly warmed to the LGBTQ community. In 2015, a Milwaukee Brewers minor league player, David Denson made baseball history when he came out as the first openly gay player in the MLB. In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by a National Football League team. Also in 2014, Jason Collins became the NBA's first openly gay active player.

"When I was a closeted high school football player, I thought I would be ostracized if I came out. It was tough. A lot has changed in the world since then but not enough," Johnson, the city council speaker, said.

Last month, the MLB entered a float in the NYC Pride March for the first time in its 49-year history. The league joined the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, WNBA and National Women's Hockey League at the annual event, which Outsports dubbed the "sportiest Pride March ever."

Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York state since the Marriage Equality Act took effect in July 2011.

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