Pride 100: A Simple Goal for 2017

It’s time to set a simple goal for the 2017 soccer season: every American top-division team celebrating LGBT Pride.

Teams have held Tinder Nights, Star Wars Nights, and Faith and Family Nights. They have celebrated the cultures of the Hispanic, Brazilian, Irish, and many other communities. It is time for every team to hold their LGBT fans in the same regard.

The LGBT community is still underrepresented in American sports, and the simple act of putting us near the forefront for one game is one step teams can take to remedy the current climate. NYCFC season ticket holder Slade Sohmer is out and proud but would like to see Pride Nights happen for fans and athletes who don’t yet have it like him. “[Sports are] one of the few remaining safe harbors of acceptable homophobia. We need to create a positive, supportive environment in which athletes can come out, be free and live their truths.”

It’s important that Pride Nights not only be lip service; they also need to be not held in the closet, as it were. They need to be visible celebrations of teams’ LGBT fans and their cities’ LGBT communities. Teams across the National Hockey League spent February celebrating “Hockey is for Everyone” Month with LGBT personalities front and center at games, rainbow tape on their equipment, and teams spending time with their LGBT communities.

Seattle has been one of the teams doing it right, with players marching in the city’s Pride parade and sharing rainbow cupcakes with fans around town. This dedication is important to the team’s fans. Pride of the Sound member Anders McConachie told us,

It’s important to show people that members of the LGBTQIA communities should be celebrated and embraced rather than shamed or unwelcome. Heterosexuality is flaunted in sporting events through kiss cams and part of the culture. Making a conscious effort to celebrate and visibly champion diversity makes our community safer and richer.

Teams in Major League Soccer have found their Pride Nights to be positive experiences for them as well. Sporting Kansas City reflected on their annual event for us:

As an organization that prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all, Pride Night has always been an important initiative for us. If you’ve ever been to a match and sat in the Cauldron, you know that our supporters are extremely welcoming to new fans regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Pride Night is just an extension of that and another way to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our supporters.

Pride nights are good for fans, for communities, and for teams. It’s an important recognition that every team throughout Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League needs to observe. One hundred percent Pride in 2017; let’s make it happen.

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