Over the last decade, Pride Nights in sports have grown from a curiosity in a handful of baseball stadiums to a mainstay of professional sports schedules. With encouragement from some pro-sports league front offices, teams across professional sports are now embracing the hosting of a night covered in rainbow flags and dedicated to embracing the LGBTQ community.
It’s a sign of the times, this push for diversity and inclusion. As professional sports teams have more competition for eyeballs and ticket buyers – from the cineplex, phones, e-sports and everything else in between – they are looking for any edge to sell more tickets to a broader range of people.
Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the world’s most LGBTQ-inclusive sports entities is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers held what is believed to be the first “LGBT Night” in pro sports in 2000. But it came about under pretty auspicious circumstances. Earlier that season a security guard had kicked a lesbian couple out of Dodger Stadium for kissing one another, after a fan had allegedly complained. When the Dodgers front office found out, they were mortified and donated 5,000 tickets to LGBTQ groups. On Sept. 6 of that year, with the lesbian couple sitting behind home plate, the team held “Gay and Lesbian Night at Dodger Stadium.”
For the last few years the Dodgers have held the largest LGBT Night in all of sports, selling many thousands of tickets. This year’s LGBT Night is May 31, with Dodgers part-owners and partners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss throwing out the game’s ceremonial opening pitch.
For the Dodgers, the commitment to the community runs deep. The team has had two players known to be gay: Glenn Burke in the 1970s and Billy Bean in 1989. Today one of the club’s senior vice presidents, Erik Braverman, is one of the highest-profile out LGBTQ people in sports.
While most other teams have their Pride Night and have very little presence in the LGBTQ community outside of that, the Dodgers engage in other events like Outsports Pride, being held in Los Angeles June 6-9, and working closely with LGBTQ organizations like Varsity Gay League, the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association, LA Pride and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Los Angeles Sparks
Our city’s WNBA team will host its Pride Night on June 27, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Far beyond Pride Nights, the Sparks have had a genuine relationship with the LGBTQ community for years. Almost 20 years ago the team embraced a strategy of LGBTQ outreach, even as the WNBA as a league and other teams tried to distance themselves from the community. The Sparks even at times made appearances at lesbian events and establishments in West Hollywood and across L.A.
Hockey in L.A.
Thanks in part to the NHL’s relationship with the You Can Play project, the Kings have been engaged with the LGBTQ community for years.
While some teams have more broadly defined the NHL’s mandated “Hockey Is For Everyone” nights, recognizing people from various marginalized communities, the Kings have continued to host their Pride Night, with some players wrapping their blades in rainbow-colored Pride Tape to demonstrate their push for acceptance on the ice.
The Kings have made it a point to highlight the local LGBTQ hockey team Los Angeles Blades in some of their efforts, including a brief interview with a team member during their 2019 Pride Night broadcast in March.
The Anaheim Ducks have also hosted Pride Nights, complete with a rainbow-inspired Ducks T-shirt giveaway.
Two NBA teams
Both the Lakers and Clippers are relatively new to LGBTQ outreach. Each of them had a Pride Night last season, with the Lakers scheduling theirs during a preseason game last October. A unique twist to the night was that every single person entering Staples Center received a Lakers shirt in rainbow colors, thanks to the sponsorship of UCLA Health. The team did a great job splashing the rainbow flag throughout the arena. It in part came about because Riley Buss-Drexel, grandson of former Lakers legendary owner Jerry Buss and part of the team ownership group, is gay and passionate about expanding the team’s outreach to the community.
The Clippers held a Pride Night on New Year’s Day this year and featured a panel discussion addressing LGBTQ issues in sports led by Lambda Basketball. The team actually helped organize its first Pride Night in 2011, co-hosted by Equality California and Outsports.
Battling ‘Puto’ on the Pitch
In no American pro sport is vocal homophobia more present than in soccer. Fans sometimes chant “puto” – a gay slur in Spanish – during matches. Last year they even chanted the slur during the L.A. Galaxy’s Pride Night and some LAFC fans chanted it during the club’s lone playoff match. It’s something that Major League Soccer, as well as LAFC and the Galaxy, have all taken seriously and vowed to eradicate from their stadiums, creating policies and procedures to combat the chants. There have been no public reports of the chant at these club’s home matches during the 2019 season.
Yet the Major League Soccer teams in L.A. have a long history of hosting Pride Nights and other LGBTQ outreach. The now-defunct Chivas USA hosted an Equality Night in 2011, complete with a pre-game reception with the NOH8 campaign, also involving Cheer LA, the LA Gay Men’s Chorus and the It Gets Better project.
This year both of Los Angeles’ current MLS teams are hosting Pride Nights, with LAFC celebrating on May 24 and the Galaxy on June 2. Of course the Galaxy have the proud history of playing the first publicly out athlete in men’s major American pro sports, when Robbie Rogers took to the pitch for the club in 2013. He retired in 2017 and now lives with his husband, Greg Berlanti, and two kids.
In stark contrast to their MLB neighbors to the north, the Anaheim Angels are hosting the club’s first-ever Pride Night on June 25. It’s hard to believe a SoCal team like the Angels would take this long to extend an olive branch to the LGBTQ community, but that’s the truth.
Rams and Chargers
No NFL team has ever hosted an official team game called a “Pride Game” or anything of the sort. That includes both the Rams and Chargers, who just moved to Los Angeles a couple years ago. A big part of that reason is that most NFL teams sell out all of their games anyway; For many sports clubs, if there are no tickets to sell there isn’t a big reason to do a promotional event, and that’s how most of them view Pride Games.
The Rams have, however, made some positive gestures toward the community. They advertised in Los Angeles Blade and sponsored Venice Pride a couple years ago. Molly Higgins is a publicly out executive in the team’s front office. And their two male cheerleaders – Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies – are both publicly out. The Rams also famously drafted Michael Sam before moving to L.A.
The Chargers have made an effort as well, a couple years ago hosting Chargers viewing parties at the Roosterfish in Venice. Yet with the Chargers having such difficulty selling tickets for their home games at StubHub Center, it’s a head-scratcher why the team hasn’t created the league’s first-ever Pride Night.
While it’s not as common for college sports teams to host Pride Nights, some of them do. The UCLA softball team, which has been a national top-three team for most of the season and is chasing a national title, held a three-day Pride Weekend when they played Cal in late March. The first 200 fans who wore rainbow colors to the matches got in free.
The Kiss Cam
One of the neat developments across many of the Pride Nights in Los Angeles has been the inclusion of same-sex couples on the Kiss Cam. The Dodgers have at times included as many as a half-dozen LGBTQ couples. The Kings and Clippers have also featured same-sex couples to big applause from the crowd. For years the Kiss Cam had been used on occasion to embarrass guys (assumed to be straight) with a kiss. The turn-around by various teams in LA has been an important step.
The pleasures of Palm Springs Pride are many
PALM SPRINGS – There is, of course, the obvious element – a strong sense of shared community with hundreds of fellow LGBTQ+ people, living our lives and taking a moment to celebrate all the things that make us both unique and essential within the totality of American culture – that marks any Pride event across the globe; but there’s something special, dare we even say “magical”, about the vibe in this desert city’s timelessly elegant approach to the occasion.
It’s difficult, in fact, to describe the blend of progressive modern sensibility and aspirational small-town idealism that defines the experience. Though Palm Springs is a long-established oasis for Angelenos seeking an escape from the big-city intensity that governs their daily lives, it’s also a comparatively modest municipality in which queer culture interacts with quotidian practicality on a regular basis. That means, for the purposes of Pride, that the city comes together as a unified voice to assert not only the validity of queer experience, but the inextricable part it plays in the daily life of the community – a welcome and valued part of the diverse and inclusive environment in one of Southern California’s most iconic destinations.
This year’s festivities were no exception. Whether it’s because, coming on the cusp of a crucial midterm election, Palm Springs Pride represents an eleventh-hour throw-down against the Trump-ist forces that threaten to undermine most of the hard-won freedoms we’ve come to take for granted, or because it reminds us of the deep well of allied support that exists around our struggle to break free of the stigma and repression of the past, the vibe at this year’s 36th annual festival was a heartening dose of positivism – an unequivocally welcome counterpoint to the worst-case scenarios and doom-laden prognostications dominating our current cultural discourse.
The sense of enthusiastic solidarity that permeated the event can be attributed, at least in part, to the heavy participation of local merchants and organizations – something that is part of any Pride celebration, perhaps, but here taken to a level which made a smalltown festival feel as if it were happening in a major metropolitan hub.
With over 150 exhibitors, there was much to do, see, and sample from the vendors, artists and craftspeople, non-profits, and food and beverage providers on hand; deployed in booths, outdoor lounges, and food trucks across several blocks of the city’s classic downtown corridor on Palm Canyon Drive, these representatives of the community ensured there was no shortage of activity to keep visitors entertained between the weekend’s plethora of musical performances and other scheduled events.
Pride flags, buttons, gear, and other queer-affirming merchandise were available everywhere; opportunities to interact with local organizations – from nudist recreation clubs to live theatre companies to anti-bullying advocacy and support groups – were plentiful; if you were in search of a monkeypox or flu vaccination, those services were available, too, along with plentiful information and resources around other LGBTQ+ health and wellness concerns.
In addition, the location allowed for numerous stores and restaurants lining the streets of the Pride venue – many of them on the Palm Springs “must do” list for tourists and locals alike – to remain open for business, offering full access without even having to leave the festival’s “Event Zone.”
All of this helped to create a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming atmosphere in which all the colors, sights, and sounds of Pride were on full and constant display – an environment where everyone could feel seen, supported, and appreciated, from out and proud members of the LGBTQ+ community to allies and family, or anywhere in between.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a keen awareness at Palm Springs Pride of the precarious edge on which our queer future teeters. Though the atmosphere within the festival was focused on celebration, there was an aura of grim-but-determined battle-readiness that became most evident, perhaps, in the cheers of support bestowed on openly gay US Congressional candidate Will Rollins by the tightly-packed crowd of spectators as he marched in Sunday morning’s parade.
Alan Uphold, a relative newcomer to Palm Springs who relocated from Los Angeles with husband Jeff Olde just before the pandemic, told the Blade he believed the sense of political urgency was sparked by the recent redistricting process that made the city part of a very “red” political region. “Because of redistricting,” he observed, “Palm Springs was lumped in with the more conservative areas to the west of us that are currently represented by one of the most corrupt, anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive freedom, January 6th-denying members in Congress. There’s a real sense of stress here, mixed with cautious optimism that Palm Springs voters could help Will Rollins win, because we CAN NOT be represented by a radical MAGA extremist like Calvert.”
Eva L, a festival attendee from Coachella who told the Blade she came to march with Rollins, also expressed frustration over the redistricting. “I can’t believe residents and politicians in Palm Springs just rolled over and didn’t object to it. Being represented by Calvert is a setback to the peaceful haven that is our community. I think we should demand to be reincorporated. So, I’m here in part just to support Will and hope for the best on Tuesday.”
There were voices in the crowd, too, that served as reminders that – even at Pride – not everyone is on board with progressive ideas about LGBTQ+ acceptance. Roberta C, who was wearing a Bianco for Sheriff campaign badge, told us she doesn’t understand why people need Pride in Palm Springs. “You guys have it easy now – and I realize that can change – but I’m here to be with my nephew who thinks he might be transgender. I’m confused because he’s going to become a woman and says he’s a lesbian. He insists on being called ‘they’.” The Blade offered to provide contact information for Trevor Project as she walked away, wiping a tear from her face as she said with cracking voice, “It’s all too much for me.”
Still, the overall mood of the crowd was festive throughout the weekend, with many people overheard saying it was the best Pride they’ve seen in recent memory. One attendee, Carlos Hernandez, who was visiting Palm Springs and happened upon the event by accident, told us “I can’t believe my luck! Be always wanted to attend Pride in the states and it’s just hard to believe how joyous this day has been so far.”
“Joyous” is, in fact, the word we would also use to describe the occasion, which was ultimately a triumphant declaration of how far we’ve come as a queer community coupled with a fierce recognition of how far we have still to go. It’s that heady mix of emotions that made Palm Springs Pride less remarkable, perhaps, for its party atmosphere and high-voltage entertainment – though those were undeniably part of the event’s success – than for the thousands of little moments, powerful and personal, experienced by those who were there.
Uphold perhaps encapsulated the resonant magic of this phenomenon.
“The thing that Jeff and I love about Palm Springs Pride is that even though the event attracts more than 125,000, it still feels like a smalltown festival,” he told us. “I especially like that the parade features local high school bands and students from local high school students all across the Coachella Valley.”
“When we attended Pride celebrations 25 years ago in WeHo, it was practically an act of subversion and defiance just to show up. That’s why, every year, I get really emotional just seeing these high school kids marching in a Pride parade,” he added.
This weekend, get your Pride on in Palm Springs
This year’s Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect
PALM SPRINGS – It must be said that there are perks to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and living in Los Angeles.
No, we’re not talking about the plethora of cultural, arts, and entertainment events that take place in our city, or the close proximity to Hollywood and all the glitz and glamour that entails, or the privilege of having WeHo, one of the great queer meccas, right at our doorstep.
We’re not talking about the progressive attitudes and politics that keep us insulated – for the moment, anyway – from the regressive conservatism that threatens our hard-won rights and protections across so much of the rest of our country, and even in large swaths of our state. We’re not even talking about the legendary weather.
All of those things and many more make living here a treat, of course; but for many queer Angelenos, one of the best parts of being a resident is having the option of a weekend escape to Palm Springs – and that becomes an even greater pleasure in November, when the desert city turns even more rainbow-colored than usual for its annual Pride Celebration – which launched a weekend of fun events last night with a dance party in the streets of the already-iconic, newly-dubbed Arenas District.
Since the first Palm Springs Pride was launched in 1986 (it was billed as “Sizzle”), the local LGBTQ+ community has come together to celebrate and to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Incorporated in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the festival has grown over the years into a multi-day event that is one of the city’s – and the entire Coachella Valley’s – biggest annual highlights.
This year’s Pride carries on that tradition with all the colorful, pedestrian-friendly festivities we’ve come to know, love, and expect. Highlights of the weekend include:
- An event zone including multiple stages on Arenas Rd, the new city park, Tahquitz Way, and Palm Canyon Drive.
- Alcoholic beverages available for purchase inside the festival (no alcohol is permitted beyond the designated event zone).
- Over 150 exhibitors, non-profit organizations, food trucks, fair food, and beverage vendors.
- A diverse array of artists, entertainers, outdoor beverage lounges with premium cocktails, wine, and festive food purveyors – along with various items for purchase, including jewelry, snacks, and sweets.
- Great shopping, restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues located along world-famous Palm Canyon Drive.
- An action-packed Children’s Headquarters (CHQ) space for fun, games, and crafts presented by Nissan.
- The Pride Youth Zone, open to those 14 to 21, a safe space for queer youth to hang out and meet others within the Pride Festival. Featuring continuous entertainment and activities, free food and drink, youth-only confidential testing, drag and make-up fun, safe sex information, and shade from the sun. All youth are embraced. Presented by US Bank and hosted by Safe Schools Desert Cities, all youth are embraced.
- A continuous slate of musical performances and dancing, with headliners Todrick Hall (Saturday night) and Pussy Riot (Sunday night) as highlights and a host of other exciting artists – including Tanzer, Polartropica, Tolliver, Betty, and Ballet Folklorico Proyeto Trans Latina, among many others – scheduled across three stages within the festival zone.
- The colorful Pride Parade, where thousands of spectators can gather under Palm Springs’ famous crystal blue skies and sunshine to cheer and support local organizations, activists, and themed floats along historic Palm Canyon Drive.
Yes, there’s a lot to do, but a visit to the Palm Springs Pride website can help you sort out the where, when, and who of it all in a few short clicks. You can even download it to your phone as an app for quick and easy access to schedule information once you’re inside the event.
The festivities last through Sunday night, which means there’s still plenty of time to throw on your best Pride gear, get in the car, and make that commute to the desert before it’s all over. If you’re on a budget (and with inflation as it is, who isn’t?), the best news might just be that the festival is a free community event – though it should be noted that gate donations are being accepted at the entry points to help keep Pride free for everyone to attend.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your Pride on!
Long Beach Pride parade & festival July 8th-10th
The theme is ‘Many voices-one spirit, marking three decades of the annual third largest Pride in California celebrating the LGBTQ+ community
LONG BEACH – This weekend marks the in-person return of Long Beach Pride after the coronavirus pandemic had halted previous celebrations. The celebration’s theme this year is “Many voices-one spirit,” marking three decades that the annual three-day festival, parade and teen pride- the third largest Pride festival and parade in California, celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, in addition to the stages and musical entertainment, organizers will be creating multiple activations and attractions encompassing the diversity and interests of Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ community.
Elsa Martinez, the president of the Board of Long Beach Pride was a guest on KTLA’s Morning News Thursday to discuss the upcoming weekend festival which kicks off Friday.
For more information visit https://longbeachpride.com/
Hundreds attend 4th annual South LA Pride celebration
Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson & Herb Wesson, this year’s family-friendly celebration was a “Pride Picnic”
LOS ANGELES – Hundreds attended the 4th annual South LA Pride celebration on Jul. 1 at Norman O. Houston Park in Baldwin Hills. Hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Herb Wesson, this year’s family-friendly celebration was a “Pride Picnic” meant to bring together South LA’s LGBTQ community and their allies for a culturally relevant pride celebration.
In addition to Harris-Dawson and Wesson, this year saw the most Black elected officials ever at a pride celebration in Los Angeles including Congresswoman Karen Bass, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Senator Sydney Kamlager, and more.
Journalist and advocate Jasmyne Cannick chaired the planning committee which included a host of community organizations.
The 2022 South LA Pride Community Picnic was sponsored in part by Community Coalition, Providence, FOX, AEG, and the LA Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department.
For more information, please visit southlapride.com.
EN VIDEO: Marchas del orgullo LGBTQ+ en Colombia
Se realizaron celebraciones en Bogotá, Medellín y Pereira
Pride in London celebrates 50, Heartstopper cast members troll protestors
“People in this community have been able to be open & successful, thriving – but also recognise that we can’t be complacent” ~ London’s Mayor
LONDON – Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Pride in London, the first was led by the Gay Liberation Front in 1972. According to the BBC more than a million people thronged the streets of the UK’s capital city ranking it as one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Europe.
In a Sunday interview with BBC Radio, London’s Pride director Chris Joell-Deshields said it was important as it provided a great level of visibility for LGBTQ+ rights.
“We’re able to provide that form of visibility, unity, quality, that the world can see and it sends a message of solidarity to those persons who may be thinking ‘I can’t be open’, ‘I can’t be visible or I’ll be prosecuted in my country,” he said.
“The battles have not all been won. Yes we’ve had some magnificent achievements, whether or not that’s equal marriage, the repeal of section 28, the lifting of the ban of homosexuals and lesbians in the military, but we’ve still got a journey to go,” he told BBC Radio.
“Every day we’re continuing to have to fight for our trans people and making it a fair life for them. We’re still having to fight for those around the world who live in countries where they can’t be themselves,” Joell-Deshields added.
Reflecting on the masses gathered at Traflagar Square Joell-Deshields noted:
“Yesterday when we were in Trafalgar Square, and we were chanting ‘trans rights are human rights’, we were pushing that so that volume of noise was heard at Downing Street and beyond, to the millions or people on the footprint and thousands on the parade.
“That sends a powerful message to politicians and others that we’re here, we’re proud and loud, and we’re going to continue to fight.
“And there’s the next generation coming along that we need to pass the mantel to. We want them to understand that the fight is not won, we have to continue and the pride platform is a great platform to do that.”
Echoing Joell-Deshields, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was in attendance Saturday told PinkNewsUK the LGBTQ+ community and allies “can’t be complacent” in the fight for equality.
The Mayor stressed that it was important to celebrate the hard won rights that the UK’s LGBTQ+ community has fought for over the last 50 years including the “end of Section 28”, the introduction of same sex marriage and the approval of “laws to protect this community.”
He then pivoted and warned there is still a “lot of campaigning” to be done in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ venue in Oslo, Norway as well as attacks against the trans community in the UK.
“People in this community have been able to be open and successful, thriving – but also recognise that we can’t be complacent,” Khan said. “There is still a lot of campaigning to be done.”
He continued: “This time last week we saw in Oslo members of this community being attacked – two being killed, many others being injured.
“We’ve seen trans people in this country being used as pawns by politicians and others in a culture war.
“So of course, we’ve got to continue protesting, continue campaigning, continue trying to make progress but also celebrate the progress we’ve made,” the mayor said.
Joining in to march in parade were cast members of the Netflix hit LGBTQ+ drama series ‘Heartstopper’ including lead actors Kit Connor and Joe Locke, and castmates Jenny Walser, Sebastian Croft, Tobie Donovan, Corinna Brown and Kizzy Edgell.
Alice Oseman the author, illustrator, screenwriter, and executive producer of Heartstopper tweeted:
At one point in the parade the cast stopped and trolled some anti-LGBTQ+ street pastors spouting inflammatory hate speech. Actors Joe Locke, who plays Charlie Spring and Sebastian Croft who plays Ben Hope, can be seen jumping up and down dancing as they displayed their non-verbal disapproval of the protestors bullhorn-delivered messaging.
Kit Connor who plays Nick Nelson noted in a Twitter post:
uhhh I was videoing and screaming at them but please don’t be mistaken, it wasn’t ’Kit Connor and the rest of the cast’, it was @joelocke03 and @SebastianCroft front and centre. Please give them the credit for doing something so powerful. https://t.co/SjvJFCHwKD— Kit Connor (@kit_connor) July 2, 2022
A video, shared on Twitter by Sky News journalist Scott Beasley, showed the actors waving the middle finger and loudly singing along to Whitney Houston’s hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” in front of the street preachers.
PinkNewsUK reported that elsewhere in the parade, Connor carried Locke on his back as they walked along the parade route behind a giant Pride flag. The scene was very reminiscent of a Heartstopper doodle that Alice Oseman created for Pride in 2019 that depicted Nick carrying Charlie, who was wearing a colourful flag, on his back.
happy pride month from me & the Heartstopper boys!! 🌈— Alice Oseman Updates (@AliceOseman) June 4, 2019
(I have lots of time and energy to draw pride art this year and I am so excited!!!!!) pic.twitter.com/wqTValTBLl
Locke told the BBC that this was his first Pride ever and said it was “such an honour” to be celebrating “being queer when the world might not be so accepting”.
“It’s very, very surreal for me,” he said.
Sign Up for Blade eBlasts
Charlie Kirk smears Out Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter
Biden outlines plan to renew fight against HIV/AIDS
India Supreme Court chief justice seen as LGBTQ ally
Homeland Security: More attacks against LGBTQ people possible
Newsom to hold oil industry accountable for price gouging
The death of Irene Cara and the broken promise
The political smear campaign to stop same-sex marriage bill
When will LGBTQ people be safe in America?
The powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson’s bloodcurdling hate
New bills to prevent hate crimes in New York signed by Gov. Hochul
Notables3 days ago
The death of Irene Cara and the broken promise
News Analysis4 days ago
The political smear campaign to stop same-sex marriage bill
Viewpoint5 days ago
When will LGBTQ people be safe in America?
Features1 day ago
The powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson’s bloodcurdling hate
New York4 days ago
New bills to prevent hate crimes in New York signed by Gov. Hochul
Texas4 days ago
ACLU asks investigation of Texas school districts anti-trans policies
Television3 days ago
Trans trailblazer helps queer the sci-fi genre in ‘The Peripheral’
Film2 days ago
The ‘Spoiler’ is you’re going to cry