Ethan Diaz carries the hurt-filled memories from the abuse he took as a transgender student through his seventh-grade days, the objects thrown at him, the comments, the threats. He feared for his life, moving on from school to school to school in West Babylon and West Islip.
Now 15 and living in Hempstead, Diaz was standing Tuesday with 18-year-old Angelica Alvarado of Bay Shore, who’s self-described as “gender fluid” and faced so much homophobia and abuse in school that it resulted in a move out of Queens. So they both took pride with the dignitaries alongside in Queens Borough Hall over the announcement that the Mets, in conjunction with the LGBT Network, will hold their first LGBT “Pride Night” Aug. 13, when they meet the Padres at Citi Field.
“It means a lot to me,” Diaz said. “I’ve always loved sports . . . So the fact that a sports team is allowing the LGBT community to participate in it makes me the happiest person I can be.”
More than 5,000 fans from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are expected. Tickets are being sold through mets.com/pride, with some proceeds earmarked for the LGBT Network’s anti-bullying Safe Schools Initiative on Long Island and in Queens. There will be pregame “Pride in the Plaza” festivities by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, including speakers and a concert.
“I honestly think the message that they’re sending is a really good message that it is OK to be yourself, and you can come out and you can be gay,” Alvarado said.
The idea for “Pride Night” came from David Kilmnick, a 48-year-old Mets fan from Centereach who is CEO of the LGBT Network. Last October, Kilmnick called Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), a fellow Mets fan.
“I said, ‘Listen, no New York team has ever had a pride night; we need to do it, and let’s do it with the Mets,’ ” Kilmnick said.
Israel pitched the idea to Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
“He was faster than a Noah Syndergaard fastball . . . in responding,” Israel said.
Kilmnick said he’s “confident” Pride Night will become an annual event, and that he’s “open to discussion” with the other area teams to hold a similar event.
He said this night and the partnership with the Mets send “a loud message to all LGBT youths that there is hope for them to be able to come on and cheer on their team and not merely be tolerated or accepted. What Pride Night does is really celebrates and supports people for who they are.”