Billie Jean King, Billy Bean, Renée Richards, Liz Carmouche, Greg Louganis, and many other high profile LGBTQ athletes have San Diego roots. Openly gay soccer player Collin Martin also just recently signed with the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club. With still relatively few out LGBTQ athletes in major league sports when compared to other industries, we know there is still much work to do. San Diego’s LGBTQ athletes have excelled at their respective sports while combating homophobia, transphobia, and HIV stigma for decades.
San Diego has a long history as a thriving community for LGBTQ adults interested in sports with groups like the America’s Finest City Softball League who’ve been longtime partners for OUT at the Park), Front Runners & Walkers who donate proceeds from the Pride 5K back to Pride’s community grant program and the Sunburst Youth Housing Project, and 18 other local LGBTQ sports groups. Many of them can be found recruiting every year at the Pride Festival in the Athletes Alley area where attendees can relax, play lawn games, connect with the members, and sign up to join a team.
Pride’s OUT sporting events started in the ‘90s and continue to grow! OUT at the Park sells out every year as we get larger and larger tickets blocks. This year 5,000 prideful Padres fans are expected to attend! San Diego Gulls and You Can Play have again teamed up to host Pride Night with the Gulls and will be donating their proceeds to our women’s festival She Fest. If you’re a rugby fan, OUT at the Pitch is in its second year, and if you’ve ever been rugby-curious, that would be the time to check it out! Each of these events helps to fund San Diego Pride’s year-round education and advocacy programs.
Much of the vital work left to be done to combat LGBTQ discrimination in athletic spaces includes protecting the most vulnerable of our population by stopping bullying and harassment in playgrounds, P.E., and youth programs. There is much left to accomplish at all stages of an LGBTQ athlete’s development including having supportive parents, coaches, teachers, team owners, managers, and fans in the stadium.
I hope you’ll join us at one of our upcoming LGBTQ sports outings so we can show the rest of the world, and especially our closeted athletes and youth, that we have been here supporting them and will continue to show up to support them as Together We Rise.
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride