The Seattle Sounders are collaborating with nonprofit LGBTQI+ athletic advocacy group Athlete Ally this Pride Month to create more inclusive spaces in sports and beyond.
“Athlete Ally works to ensure that LGBTQI+ athletes are safe, welcomed and included in the sport that they love,” said AA Director of Communications Joanna Hoffman. “We do that in four primary ways and that's education, policy, athlete activism and research.”
Through these four pillars, the Sounders and Athlete Ally are initiating several activations during the month of June and throughout the duration of the year in order to bring awareness and inclusivity to the forefront of sports.
“Having athletes like the Sounders speak about how LGBTQI+ inclusion matters to them provides a source of education and inspiration to their fellow teammates, to their fans, to their own family and friends and loved ones,” said Hoffman. “They have the ability to influence so many people and to also be voices for change.”
Sounders Ambassador and former player Brad Evans stands out as a key voice in the club’s partnership with the nonprofit organization. From June 22-25, Athlete Ally will be hosting their second annual Activism Summit in Seattle, bringing together over 200 college athletes from over 30 campuses across the country, where Evans will be speaking alongside Sounders Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Extstrom on a panel surrounding LGBTQI+ inclusion in and through sports.
From there, the student-athletes from the Activism Summit will have the opportunity to attend the Sounders Pride Match on June 24 against Orlando City SC. On the field, the team will be supporting the LGBTQ+ community with custom jersey numbers created in collaboration between the Sounders and Athlete Ally.
“The jerseys incorporate the inclusive pride flag and really showcase not only pride, but also the diversity of pride because we know that pride encompasses many different identities,” said Hoffman. “And I think that by being inclusive in the color scheme and the design of the jersey, that really helps to make sure that all members of the Seattle LGBTQI+ community feel seen and feel a part of this process.”
The Athlete Ally student-athletes will cap off the weekend at the Pride Parade on June 25 where they will be marching alongside Seattle pro sports teams.
The Sounders partnership with Athlete Ally reinforces the commitment to amplifying the voices of partners, acting as an ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and working to create inclusive places and policies within sport.
“I think a really beautiful and powerful thing about the Sounders is that this team has, for a long time, been dedicated to making sure that soccer is a place for everybody and that really matters because we don't see that all the time in sports…We don't see that all the time in men's sports,” said Hoffman. “So for us, it's really about how valuable it is to have athletes who have powerful platforms and use those platforms for something so positive and impactful.”