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You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
We are an open and affirming, multi-racial and multi-cultural, assessable to all, peace and justice oriented body of faith. We go into the community and God's disciples. Grounded by the teachings of Jesus the Christ, we uplift Christ's goodness, create spiritual community, and care for God's people and God's world. Dynamic hope, incredible compassion, extravagant hospitality, and radical love are our core values.
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Successfully Attracting LGBT Sports Fans
You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to think that professional sports fandom has long been overwhelmingly straight: frequent accusations (and displays) of homophobia from fans, a culture that tends toward hypermasculinity and exclusion, and a lack of “out” athletes in national leagues have combined to leave many LGBT sports fans feeling left behind.
But that may be changing as many organizations and teams realize the benefits of ensuring that LGBT fans are included and provided with opportunities to enjoy games and participate in fan culture.
How Can Athletics Leagues Appeal to LGBT Sports Fans?
There is a lot of data out there to suggest that there are many more LGBT sports fans than previously thought: a 2013 Nielsen survey found that gay men and lesbians were 11% more likely to attend professional sporting events and 51% more likely to watch sports-related videos online. More recently, professional sports organizations and leagues, along with major online publications, are beginning to realize the untapped potential of this group of fans:
- Women’s National Basketball Association – The WNBA has, so far, led the way in embracing LGBT sports fans and building fan communities: players in the league regularly work with LGBT advocacy groups and organizations, and in June 2014, the WBNA featured its first nationally-televised Pride game.
- Major League Baseball – The MLB is also catching on: the summer of 2016 will bring the Mets’ first LGBT Pride Night, which will feature a postgame concert. The team will donate a portion of each ticket sold to the LGBT Network’s anti-bullying campaign.
- Outsports – Awareness of the importance and impact of LGBT sports fans is also growing within sports media: SB Nation, part of the Vox media network, acquired Outsports.com in 2013 to better serve its large audience of LGBT sports fans, focusing on LGBT athletes, coming out stories, and articles on homophobia and LGBT issues in sports.
More organizations and leagues are realizing the benefits of including LGBT sports fans in conversations and events. This is being helped along by events like Pride Night and league partnerships with LGBT groups. We are sure to see more sports cater their coverage and events to appeal to a larger LGBT fan base.
The Hurdles Still in Place for LGBT Sports Fans
Although efforts to increase visibility for LGBT sports fans have definitely progressed in the past few years, there’s still work to be done. In many fan cultures, there is still a shocking amount of homophobia and intolerance, and LGBT sports fans still feel unwelcome at professional events in certain sports:
- Homophobia – In professional soccer homophobic slurs and chants continue to be an issue: in a 2016 game, fans loudly made homophobic statements and led chants against Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo throughout the game.
- Safety – In the United States, a recent survey indicated that 83% of Americans don’t believe openly LGBT sports fans are as safe at events as heterosexuals, citing fan homophobia and intolerance.
- Visibility – Both LGBT sports fans and athletes have repeatedly stated the importance of including LGBT players in professional sports to increase visibility and acceptance. The idea behind efforts like You Can Play, a nonprofit that supports LGBT athletes, is that greater representation on the field will make LGBT sports fans more welcome and accepted.
The issues faced by LGBT sports fans and athletes, as well as the organizations running the leagues, have also been brought to the forefront by recent news: the passage of an anti-LGBT law in North Carolina prompted the NBA to make a public statement on the association’s decision to host its 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, stating that the “discriminatory law runs counter to [its] guiding principles of equality and mutual respect.”
Building Safe Spaces for LGBT Sports Fans
The growing presence of LGBT sports fans–along with a network of programs to build inclusion and acceptance–shows that professional sports organizations are taking this segment of their fan base seriously. There’s still plenty of work to be done. By taking a hard line against homophobic behavior and supporting initiatives to market professional sports toward LGBT fans, major professional sports organizations are shaping conversations and ensuring that fans can unite around their teams, regardless of sexual orientation or background. Hopefully this means that soon, no matter what the sport, LGBT fans can cheer and participate without fear of intolerance or homophobia.
Are you a die-hard fan? We’d love to hear from you about your experience as an LGBT sports fan: have you experienced any negative reactions from fellow fans, or has your LGBT identity been a non-issue as long as you’re wearing the right jersey?