Pride came before the ball!
A giant rainbow beamed over the Barclays Center on Jan. 17, shining to show the Brooklyn Nets’ support for the local LGBTQ community as the team took on the San Antonio Spurs at its second-annual “pride night.”
The event represented the hometown squad’s commitment to embracing athletes of all sexual orientations, according to the spokesman for a city gay-, lesbian-, and transgender-rights organization.
“From everything we’ve witnessed, the Nets continue to be a strong supporter of LGBTQ equality,” said Taylor Carr, who works for Athlete Ally.
Nets players wore their traditional black-and-white jerseys during the match, but members of the Brooklynettes Dancers traded their normal getups for spirited, rainbow-colored tees during an on-court performance as the gay pride-flag flew on the big screen overhead.
And before the game, the team hosted a panel on the challenges LGBTQ athletes face at all levels of competition, with participants including the head honcho of Athlete Ally and former Nets player James Collins — the first National Basketball Association star to compete as an openly gay man.
Hazing and discrimination remain a major obstacle for gay, lesbian, and transgender athletes, who often find coaches more concerned about their sexual orientation than their performance, according to Carr.
“Sports could be the ultimate meritocracy, but there’s still an entire community of people excluded for no reason other than who they are or how they were born,” he said.
But major athletic leagues and sports franchises are starting to take LGBTQ rights more seriously, as the Nets’ yearly event shows, Carr said.
“On the positive side we’re witnessing the greatest expansion of athletic activism in modern history,” he said.
And the Nets can take pride in its support of gay rights — but not in its performance on the court on Pride Night, when San Antonio trounced the home team 100–95.