Being an openly gay athlete is one of the hardest things to do in sports.
There is already a tremendous amount of fear a gay individual feels when coming out about their sexuality, and that fear is only magnified in sports. No athlete wants their sexuality to be the reason why their teammates are uncomfortable playing with them. The locker room could suddenly turn from a place of camaraderie, to a place of ostracization. That reason alone is why the first openly gay athlete to play in any of four major North American pro sports leagues, Jason Collins, didn’t come out until 2013. To put that into perspective, Collins waited until he was 34 years old before revealing that he was gay; he had already played 13 seasons in the NBA.
Collins’ bravery to reveal his sexuality has since inspired many other athletes to come forward; it created a positive feedback that resulted in the betterment of lives. That’s the reason Clippers’ Pride Night was so significant.
The Clippers created a panel of five influential LBGTQ sports figures to speak with fans pre-game. Each one of those individuals has the ability to inspire hundreds. The last time a Clippers did a Pride Night was in 2011, and the Lakers just did their first ever night this season. LGBTQ inclusion in sports has always been a tough concept.
The whole night was branded with LGBTQ colors, performers, and apparel. Each bit of detail was crafted with the common hope of creating inclusion for all. It all culminated into a moment on the kiss-cam, where two men kissed each other, and it was met with a roaring applause. There were 17,868 people at Staples Center on New Years day and they nearly all came together for an incredibly inspiring moment. A moment that potentially taught other LGBTQ children in attendance that their sexuality is okay. A moment that may have saved a life.
To most people, the LA Clippers simply played a game of basketball against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 1st. But to those in the LGBTQ community, it was a day that inspired hope, change, and inclusion.