All About PRIDE

Celebrations with Valley Sports Franchises

By Lupie Janos

June 21 of this year was a hot afternoon. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and there was a rainbow-washed scoreboard in the outfield at the Las Vegas Ballpark when the Las Vegas Aviators held their 2nd Annual PRIDE Night, presented by Findlay Chevrolet. There was new pride gear in the fan shop, rainbow flags at the gates, and rainbow straws were available at the bars – PRIDE night was poppin’.

In their 39th season in the Silver State, the Aviators have the proud distinction of being the longest enduring franchise in Nevada’s history of professional sports. The Aviators are an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics and replaced the beloved 51’s in 2019. The local PRIDE Night is part of a larger Minor League Baseball (MiLB) league campaign.

Las Vegas Baseball Park
Vimael Machín playing for the Las Vegas Aviators

MiLB Pride uses the game of baseball to bring communities together and proactively engage and embrace the LGBTQ community, focusing on creating an environment where everyone feels welcome. This platform was created to celebrate, highlight and tell breakthrough stories on inclusion in participating cities. “Together, we can strike out hate.” #MiLBpride

Belicia Montgomery, Minor League Baseball’s director of diversity and inclusion, has stated, “Minor League Baseball is dedicated to creating safe and accepting environments for everyone to be their authentic selves. Even when games aren’t being played, we work tirelessly to improve ourselves and our communities by being a force for positive change.”

“The issues facing the LGBTQ+ community don’t disappear after Pride Month, and neither will we,” Montgomery said. “We are dedicated to being a diverse and inclusive organization year-round. The work never stops, and we will build upon what we’ve learned in the first two years of MiLB Pride. We want all fans to feel welcome in not just our ballparks, but our communities, and that’s the goal we strive for every day.”

Vegas Golden Knights continued the tradition of hosting Pride Night earlier this year, on April 28. Pride Night in the NHL is part of the league’s larger initiative, You Can Play.

Players used rainbow tape on their sticks during warm-ups and auctioned them off during the game. The stores at City National Arena, T-Mobile Arena, and Lifeguard Arena sold Pride gear.

Part of the proceeds from the game were donated to The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada. For those who could not be present at the arena, the Center hosted a free watch party.

Have you been to a Las Vegas Lights FC game yet at Cashman? They are our city’s professional soccer team that plays in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship. The team made its debut in 2018 and has been building up its fan base. If you have not been to a game, get out and go – the tickets are reasonably priced, and the vibe in the stadium is electric.

The USL’s inclusive initiative, the Forever Proud Project, continues to grow, and this year, 17 teams have announced plans and partnerships for Pride Night contests. Although the Lights do not participate in the initiative, it is worth highlighting. The Project was created to reinforce USL’s commitment to social impact and provide a safe, inclusive space for all fans, players, coaches, and employees. The goal of the Project is to prioritize education, community development programs, authentic and intentional fan experiences, relationship building opportunities, and LGBTQ+ storytelling for teams, players, and fans – all designed to support the LGBTQ+ community and the ongoing creation of a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ fans, employees, and partners in USL communities across the country.

The project pillars are as follows:

Harnessing the USL’s national reach to highlight core areas of importance specific to the LGBTQ+ community, including historical context, ongoing issues facing the community, allyship, policy impact, and opportunities to drive impact and change. In support of these objectives, an emphasis will be placed on providing a cultural understanding of the LGBTQ+ community to elevate visibility and awareness.

Coming together as a collective, including collaborating with industry leaders, partners, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, to empower USL stakeholders with the education, tools, and information to be more understanding, inclusive, and supportive forces in their communities.

Intentional focus on creating a bridge between the USL and the LGBTQ+ community to foster an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment – inside and outside the stadium – for all Clubs, employees, fans, allies, and communities.

Forever Proud Pledge:
“Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia have no place in our game. I pledge to celebrate our differences and always lead with kindness. I will create safe and inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community on and off the pitch. I am Forever Proud.”

Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 35

This article was originally published in the Sports & Recreation Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.