It was a Sunday like so many others over the years at Wrigley Field.
Under the July sun, the new Budweiser Party Deck in the right-field bleachers was a beehive of activity. Kids scrambled up and down the aisles or sat on the concrete under the high-top counter on the top row, happy to have found the only shade around. Their parents mingled, sipping a beer or a soda, comparing notes about T-ball leagues or schools.
The point couldn’t be missed, in the eyes of Laura Ricketts, one of the organizers of the event: Lambda Legal’s Family Day Out at Wrigley Field.
“Our families are no different from any other families,” said Ricketts, a major supporter of Lambda Legal and part of the family that owns the Cubs. “The only difference is we have white T-shirts on today. Everyone else is in different colors.”
In those shirts bearing the Lambda Legal and Cubs logos, though, were a wide-ranging cross-section of adults and kids ranging from toddlers to teens.
Oak Park residents Brian Fletcher and Robert Hickok were there with two of their three children: 6 1/2-year-old Jackson and 3 1/2-year-old Hank (2 1/2-year-old Ellie didn’t make the trip).
Though they’ve been to games over the years, neither Fletcher nor Hickok have ever been much into baseball — till Jackson started playing T-ball this summer and their horizons expanded a bit.
“We aren’t really huge sports fans,” Fletcher said. “But it’s fun for the kids and they love it. We’re part of that now.”
Some things are universal, like the wonder in a 6-year-old’s voice when he reaches the top of the ramp to the bleachers and sees the seemingly endless expanse of green inside Wrigley’s whitewashed walls for the first time in his life.
So it was for Jackson, according to Fletcher: “When he came up to the field, he was, ‘Wow!’”
The idea that the Cubs were hosting an event for the LGBT community with Ricketts and her brother Tom working the crowd — that might have triggered a similar reaction just a few decades ago.
But performers like Frank Ocean are coming out, pro sports teams are recognizing their fans come in all orientations and the world feels like a different — and potentially better — place now.
“I think professional sports is changing just like the rest of society is changing,” Laura Ricketts said. “We can see in our politicians — it’s reflected in the changes in their viewpoints on whatever issues that relate to same-sex couples.”
And it can be seen in organizations like the one Ricketts helps run. “With regard to the Cubs, we’re in a largely LGBT community and we’re in a city that has a great LGBT community,” she said. “For the Cubs, this is just another part of the community.”
And this event was just another part of Lambda Legal’s mission to serve the community both in and out of the courtroom. Among the Lambda staffers on hand was Camilla Taylor, its Marriage Project Director.
As she noted, Lambda has also sponsored a family day at Brookfield Zoo in its efforts to strengthen the ties that bind together the LGBT parents and kids that it serves.
“It’s … wonderful for the children of gay parents to meet each other,” Taylor said. “It fosters a sense of community and it’s especially important for the kids … especially those who live in an area where there aren’t a lot of other kids in families structured like theirs.”
On this hot summer afternoon, though, the most notable thing was how much these kids — and their parents — had in common with the other families who came out to enjoy a day at the ballpark.