Athlete Ally Announces Joint Effort with Seattle Professional Sports Teams to Champion LGBT Equality

Today is a historic day in sports advocacy. We’re extremely proud to announce a coordinated effort with the Seattle professional sports community. This will be the first time that a city’s professional sports teams have partnered together in a joint endeavor to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community. We’re honored to partner with the Seattle Mariners, Reign FC, the Sounders FC, the Seattle Storm, and the Seattle Seahawks, to champion LGBT equality and inclusion. Read more in our joint press release below.

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Seattle Professional Sports Teams Unite for LGBT Pride Month to Support LGBT Equality

The Seattle Sounders, Seattle Reign FC, Seattle Storm and Seattle Mariners will partner with nonprofit Athlete Ally and participate in back-to-back “Pride Nights” to celebrate their commitment to LGBT equality.

(Seattle, Washington) – Today, the Seattle professional sports community announced a coordinated effort for its LGBT pride month activations, furthering its commitment to LGBT inclusion and equality. This will be the first time that a city’s professional sports teams have partnered together in a joint endeavor to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community. To celebrate the community’s commitment, players from each team have filmed a joint PSA which will be unveiled demonstrating the Seattle sports community’s unwavering support of inclusion and equality.

The teams will kick-off their pride week efforts on June 20th at 3 p.m. PST with a joint press conference held at The NINETY. Representatives from each team will speak about the Seattle community’s continued commitment to LGBT equality efforts, and the athletic community’s support of its LGBT players, fans, coaches, officials and administrators. As part of the press conference, teams will announce an ongoing partnership with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit aimed at fostering a culture where athletic communities, and all whom they influence, advance LGBT and gender equality in sports and under the law.

Athletes from a number of the teams will join Athlete Ally as Professional Ambassadors, joining more than 150 Professional and Olympic athletes that have committed to using their platform to champion LGBT equality. Joining Athlete Ally as Ambassadors will be Brad Evans and Chad Marshall of Sounders FC, Madalyn Schiffel and Lauren Barnes of Reign FC, Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, and James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners. As Professional Ambassadors, these athletes lend their voices in support of their teams’ commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion.

“The Seattle sports community continues to demonstrate the power of sport in standing up and speaking out for LGBT equality,” said Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally. “This effort is once again proving that the athletic community won’t be sidelined in the fight for LGBT equality on the field and under the law.”

Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin will join the press conference to demonstrate the team’s support for inclusion and equality in sport.

In addition to coordinating back-to-back pride matches, each team has committed to individual inclusive programming initiatives as part of its pride week involvement.

Sounders FC’s annual Pride match is scheduled for Wednesday, June 21, as the team hosts Orlando City SC. A portion of proceeds from a special ticket offer will benefit the GSBA Scholarship Fund, with the club contributing an additional $7,000. At the match, Sounders FC will host two GSBA scholars who will take part in a check presentation on the pitch. Starbucks and Sounders FC are partnering together to celebrate Pride by distributing 10,000 themed captain’s armbands as a gate giveaway to fans attending the match. Both Seattle and Orlando will come together for team walk outs, wearing Pride-themed scarves, Pride captain armbands and taking a joint team photo to commemorate the event and celebrate unity through sport. The match’s game presentation will feature Pride flags, team Pride logo banners and will include on-field volunteers from the Greater Seattle Business Alliance and Starbucks Pride network. Later in the week, Sounders FC is to be honored as a Grand Marshal in Seattle Pride’s central parade event on Sunday, June 25. Sounders FC alumnus Roger Levesque, Sounders FC supporters and official team band, Sound Wave, will represent the team in the parade, followed by a Sounders FC viewing party at Ozzie’s for fans to attend following the parade, as the team takes on the Portland Timbers in Portland in a 1:00 p.m. PT kickoff. 

“With the unique place that sport has in our culture, it’s incredibly important that teams take advantage of their platforms in order to make a difference,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “The Seattle community has long been dedicated to supporting inclusiveness and advancing rights for all citizens, and the Sounders are thrilled to come together with our fellow professional teams to highlight our commitment to those ideals.”

The Seattle Mariners annual Pride Game is Thursday, June 22 (vs. Detroit Tigers). The Mariners are partnering with the Greater Seattle Business Association and T-Mobile on a special event that includes a ticket special, rainbow Mariners cap and pre-game mixer. A portion of the tickets sold through the special offer (Mariners.com/Pride) will benefit the GSBA Scholarship Program which supports LGBT and ally students from the state of Washington. Some of GSBA’s 2017 scholars will be honored during a pregame ceremony which will include Billy Bean, who is leading Major League Baseball’s diversity and inclusion efforts. T-Mobile will present the GSBA Scholarship Fund with a $10,000 donation during the pregame ceremony.

“We are stronger and better when we come together, whether it’s a sports team or our community,” said John Stanton, Seattle Mariners CEO. “The Mariners are proud to join with the Reign, Seahawks, Sounders, Storm and Athlete Ally to take a stand in support of equality and inclusion.”

The Seattle Storm’s annual Pride Game is set for Friday, June 23 vs. the Phoenix Mercury at 7 p.m. A variety of special activities are set to take place, including a halftime performance by SassyBlack, a space aged singer, songwriter and producer out of Seattle. The U.S. Deaf Women’s Soccer National Team will also be in attendance, as it joins the Storm in supporting equality, inclusion in sports and equal rights. Alongside Homophonic, the women’s soccer team’s interpreter, Amanda Newcomb, will also perform the national anthem in sign language. Supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Storm will be handing out rainbow thunderstix, while Pride flags and tank tops will also be available for purchase in the Team Shop; Athlete Ally will be selling a limited supply of ‘Equality is a Team Sport’ t-shirts on the concourse. The Storm also welcomes fans to join the team at the Pride Picnic (June 10 from Noon-3 p.m. at Volunteer Park) and Pride Parade (June 25). 

“It’s not just impactful to use professional sports platforms to promote equality, it is our responsibility,” said President & GM Alisha Valavanis. “We are honored to lock arms with the Mariners, Reign, Seahawks and the Sounders in Seattle to demonstrate our collective commitment to equality and human rights. This special event beautifully illustrates our City’s values and leadership in the space of equality, inclusion and diversity.”

Seattle Reign FC’s Pride match presented by Carter Subaru is scheduled for Saturday, June 24, when the club hosts FC Kansas City. Reign FC is partnering with the Greater Seattle Business Association by donating a portion of proceeds from a special ticket offer (reignfc.com/gsba2017) to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. A variety of activities are planned throughout the match, including a national anthem performance by Sensible Shoes, an ensemble part of the Seattle Women’s Chorus who stand out as one of the largest LGBTQ-identified women’s choruses in the world. The U.S. Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team will join Reign FC in supporting equality in sports and be honored during halftime for their 2016 World Cup Championship. Match presentation will include Pride corner flags, a Pride captain’s armband, and the team will wear Nike Equality BETRUE t-shirts pre-match. Reign FC will be distributing pride flags presented by Rudy’s Barbershop as a giveaway to the first 2,000 fans in attendance, and will also offer Pride t-shirts available for purchase and online at reignfcshop.com.

“We are excited to partner with Athlete Ally and participate in this unique celebration of the Seattle LGBT community,” said Bill Predmore, owner of Seattle Reign FC. “We are proud to be part of a Seattle sports community that is so visibly and vocally committed to fostering inclusion, respecting diversity and working towards equality for all.”

About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally’s mission is to educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports and to exercise their leadership to champion LGBT equality. Athletes and sports institutions are uniquely positioned to inspire others and impact societal attitudes. Athlete Ally believes that educating and activating allies within athletic communities will help eliminate homophobia and transphobia from sports, and mitigate anti-LGBT prejudices at large. Since its founding, Athlete Ally has attracted more than 150 professional athletes and Olympians, and teams at more than 50 U.S. colleges and universities to champion the inclusion of LGBT athletes. Moreover, we are leveraging our partnerships with individual athletes and teams to advance our impact on LGBT public policy in states that lag in LGBT nondiscrimination protections.

Contact:
Taylor Carr
Director of Communications, Athlete Ally
[email protected] or 315-945-7480

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