The WNBA and NBA made history this weekend as the first professional sports leagues to march in the New York City Pride Parade, part of the WNBA’s celebration of Pride Month. Every team in the league has taken turns hosting their own Pride-themed games in June and many have participated in their local Pride parades.
Earlier this month, the Mystics participated in the DC Pride parade and then this past Friday night hosted their own Pride game at Verizon Center.
To celebrate, the Mystics transformed their logo, LED boards, and social media avatars into rainbow ones, along with sporting “Orlando United” warm-up shirts that are now being auctioned off online until July 5. Proceeds will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund.
“Each team plans their own Pride night celebration,” said Mystics Marketing Manager Dana Campbell. “The league wants to make sure we’re doing everything we can to have a fulfilling Pride experience for our fans. It’s totally up to us.”
Several local LGBT community groups also attended the game, like Whitman-Walker Health, a D.C.-based community health center that specializes in HIV/AIDS and LGBT care. SMYAL, an LGBT youth leadership group and PFLAG, a group aimed at uniting LGBT people and allies were also in attendance.
“I do hope that fans enjoy all the different activations, learn a little something about our local groups, also see that the Mystics — as well as the WNBA — is inclusive for everyone,” said Campbell.
Tagg Magazine, a publication set in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area was also represented. According to the magazine’s website, they cover everything “lesbian, queer, and under the rainbow.”
Akayla Boyd, an intern and writer for Tagg, said their goal Friday night was to “get people more informed about our magazine and what’s going on in the community and definitely show support not only to the women’s basketball team, but to just let people know that we’re here and we support everybody.”
Fans in attendance watched two different Pride message videos on the video board — one from WNBA President Lisa Borders and another from Mystics center Stefanie Dolson, who made headlines in May after coming out in an interview with ESPN The Magazine.
We stand for equality, so all can live openly and honestly.
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) June 25, 2016
“It’s a special night,” Dolson said after the game. “I think it’s a big community that the WNBA has done a great job of just appreciating and really being a part of is the LGBTQ community. I’m proud to say that I’m a part of it. A night like this is just to show that we represent it and we have fans that come out and enjoy the game.”
Pride Night Community Champion
Jason Laney, SMYAL
Jason Laney serves as the Development Director at SMYAL, the community based organization that supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Jason comes to SMYAL with more than 10 years of experience working in the non-profit industry as both a staff member and volunteer with numerous organizations. He is originally from Asheville, NC and graduated from Furman University with a degree in Political Science. He has worked for several different membership and trade associations in various capacities including event and convention planning, exhibit sales and management, membership recruitment, and volunteer management. In a volunteer capacity, he is a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors where he served as Co-Chair of the 2013 and 2014 HRC National Dinners and Greater Washington, DC Federal Club Co-Chair. He is currently a member of the HRC National Board of Governors Executive Committee. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the DC LGBT Community Center where he served on the Finance and Board Development Committees. Jason loves traveling, outdoor activities–especially snow skiing, and participating in the many cultural opportunities offered in the DC region.