The Seattle Sounders joined fellow local professional sports teams — the NWSL’s Reign, MLB’s Mariners, NFL’s Seahawks and WNBA’s Storm — on Tuesday for a joint press conference to support LGBT equality.
The five franchises partnered with Athlete Ally, a national nonprofit committed to supporting LGBT equality in sports. Representatives from each team composed a panel that consisted of Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor and pro ambassador Mary Harvey, Mariners owner and CEO John Stanton, Storm owner Ginny Gilder, Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, Seahawks General Counsel and Vice President of Government Affairs Ed Goines, Sounders defender Brad Evans and Reign forward Megan Rapinoe.
Sounders defender Chad Marshall and Reign forward Beverly Yanez, midfielder Jess Fishlock, defender Lauren Barnes and goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel were also in attendance.
“Sports franchises generally have a platform,” Hanauer said. “We need to be leaders…We have to take leadership roles on issues. Not everyone is going to agree with every position we take, and that’s OK. But inclusiveness specifically seems like a no-brainer.”
Tuesday was the first of week-long Pride-themed activities planned culminating with the Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, during which the Sounders will be honored as a Grand Marshal.
The Sounders will host Orlando City SC on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. PT; JOEtv KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) to open the week’s Pride-themed sporting events. That match will be followed by the Mariners hosting the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, the Storm hosting the Mercury on Friday and the Reign hosting FC Kansas City on Saturday.
One of the largest obstacles facing closeted athletes around the world is the fear, and often potential danger, of coming out. For Evans, he takes it upon himself to make sure the Sounders locker room is as safe a space it can be and to also be an advocate for LGBT equality in every capacity he can.
“I do feel obligated [to act] in all the right ways,” Evans said. “I feel like I have a duty to do what I think is right…I grew up in a household that was extremely inclusive. Everybody was always at our house, it was part of why I love being part of a team.”
Click here for more information on how you can get involved with all the events this week.