Chicago Free Press editor-in-chief Bill Gubrud started a trend when he bought 2,000 Cubs game tickets in 2001 and handed them out to gay baseball fans. Dubbed the “nation’s first gay day at the baseball stadium,” In Wrigley celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is one of 18 Pride Nights to be publicly announced on the MLB calendar this summer.
Over the past two decades, we have witnessed a dramatic shift towards the inclusion of LGBTQ people in professional sport. Today every league is promoting the rainbow, and we’re not just talking about changing social media avatars, although that’s a good idea. During Pride Month, they all adopt various initiatives to support the LGBTQ community, including its most marginalized members.
It is remarkable to see. Nowadays, it is remarkable when a professional sports team does not participate in the pride, like the Texas Rangers, the only club in the MLB that did not schedule or host a pride party since 2003.
To illustrate the breadth of LGBTQ support across all sports, we’ve compiled a summary of how each league celebrates pride. If we missed anything, please let us know. We expect to see this list grow throughout the month of June!
The NFL may be in the midst of its late spring slumber, but America’s most popular sports league kicked off Pride Month with a fierce entry that would have made RuPaul blush. On June 1, the NFL shield changed to rainbow colors on social media, prompting some homophobic fans to lash out at boycott threats.
As former gay offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan recently told Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler, every little signal of support matters. âI’m glad the NFL is doing it,â he said. “Small gestures like that add up.”
The NFL also has a LGBTQ resource section on its website, set up this year to commemorate National Coming Out Day. The league produced a video for the occasion, featuring All-Pros Rob Gronkowski and DeAndre Hopkins, as well as our former players.
Regardless, the 49ers are organize a month-long celebration with programming specific to Pride, including an activism in sports panel, featuring transgender MMA veteran Fallon Fox. The Niners organization is making a commendable effort to ensure that its Pride offerings appeal more than cisgender people. They are believed to be the only NFL team to offer gender-neutral clothing options.
With that in mind, the Seahawks are teaming up with other Seattle sports franchises – the Mariners, Storm, Kraken, Sounders FC and OL Reign – to support sports for gender inclusive youth. They will promote a gender neutral toolkit for all youth coaches, parents and administrators in Washington State. O’Callaghan also spoke with the Seahawks.
In Miami, the Dolphins are teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County to support LGBTQ youth in the area and have also lit Hard Rock Stadium in the Lights of Pride. Given Governor Ron DeSantis’ grotesque gesture of sign a transgender athlete ban on the first pride day, the efforts of the dolphins are especially important.
As previously mentioned, 18 teams are hosting pride celebrations this year, with seven scheduled for this week, including the inaugural Glenn Burke Day in Oakland. On Saturday, the Giants made history by took the land in the colors of the rainbow on their caps for their game against the Cubs.
Ken Schultz of Outsports has put together an excellent summary of all the fabulous festivities. (It’s also worth noting that with the cancellation of large-scale pride events for the second year in a row, MLB Pride Nights are among the only major in-person celebrations held.)
For the fifth year in a row, the NBA is selling its special line of t-shirts for pride month with the logo of each team in the colors of the rainbow. We thought they were the first professional men’s sports league to start playing. The effort is in collaboration with GLSEN.
Notably, the Phoenix Suns hosted the first in-person pride party at any professional sports venue in the United States since the Covid-19 pandemic in April.
Three years ago, every club in the NHL held some form of âinclusion nightâ or âpride nightâ. Since partnering with You Can Play in 2013, the league has made LGBTQ awareness a centerpiece of its community efforts, and that pride is no different.
The NHL promotes a wide range of initiatives on its Vertical pride, such as links to LGBTQ hockey organizations nationwide and resource pages on appropriate language and vocabulary for coaches and allies. And yes, there are a lot of Pride merchandise.
Last Friday the Bruins hosted the Boston LGBTQ hockey team on the ice for a special Pride skate, with Boston’s NWHL team, the (aptly named) Pride. In the Pacific Northwest, the Kraken are promote Seattle’s inaugural LGBTQ Hockey League, scheduled for later this month.
Of course, no Pride Month recap would be complete without the WNBA, the first league in the country to establish a pride platform seven years ago.
The WNBA pushes 10 nationally televised matches dedicated to pride throughout the month of June, many of which feature openly LGBTQ stars. The first clash was between Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury against two-time All-Star Courtney Vandersloot and the Chicago Sky.
In addition to the games, the league is also hosting allied education sessions on trans inclusion (veteran Layshia Clarendon came out publicly as trans and not binary last December). WNBA social media promotes the efforts of all teams with the hashtag #WNBAPride, and yes, of course, there is Style!
Four pride-themed evenings are scheduled: Austin FC (June 27); Houston Dynamo FC (June 23); Nashville SC (June 26); Seattle Sounders (June 26).
The NWSL celebrates pride with its own Rainbow clothing selection also. Last year, The Athletic’s Meg Linehan posted a excellent piece detailing the importance of the league’s evolving membership in LGBTQ pride.
Although the NWHL is in its offseason, the fledgling women’s hockey league is all-in for pride. They have all kinds of cool merchandise available, with profits going to various charities and LGBTQ organizations. The Metropolitan Riveters, for example, donate all profits to the Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline.
As mentioned above, we know this list is not exhaustive. Do not hesitate to tell us about your initiatives via social networks (@outsports) or by e-mail ([email protected]).