Ahead of next week’s Super Bowl, the NFL and GLAAD teamed up to co-host their third annual “A Night of Pride” celebration in Las Vegas.
The flashy event, attended by athletes, activists, and other famous faces, is held to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in sports, and the “NFL’s commitment to LGBTQ+ players and fans.”
Hosted by *NSYNC’s Lance Bass, with a live music performance from singer-songwriter VINCINT, “A Night Of Pride”, was particularly meaningful to LGBTQ+ ambassadors and former NFL stars, who might not have always seen professional sport as a place in which people could be open about their identity.
The NFL and GLAAD event was hosted by Lance Bass. (Getty Images)
Over the course of the night, attendees were treated to a panel discussion on how sports advences LGBTQ+ acceptance, featuring the NFL’s first openly gay player to play in a regular-season game Carl Nassib, the first out male NFL coach Kevin Maxin, and NFL replay assistant Desiree Abrams.
The night went off without a hitch, despite the prominence of a hateful petition calling for the NFL to cancel the event, which had amassed more than 40,000 signatures.
The petition, which described pride night as a “terrible sin of scandal” and a “serious offense to God and His Law”, was curated by Return to Order, a project started by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (American TFP) – a nonprofit far-right organisation for Catholics that the SPLC has previously described as a “virulently anti-LGBT group.”
The petition was the last thing on people’s minds on Wednesday night (7 February) as they walked the purple carpet at Caesar’s Palace.
The NFL’s first openly gay player to play in a regular-season game Carl Nassib with GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. (Getty Images)
Speaking to ABC7 News, LGBTQ+ ambassador for GLAAD and the NFL Ryan Mitchell raved: “Never in a million years did I think this would be a thing. But the fact that queer folks have a space to be seen and heard – it’s so powerful it’s such a moment.”
Former NFL player Ryan Russell, who came out as bisexual in 2019, told the news outlet: “Sports, historically, football has not been the most welcoming place, I think there are 16 players in NFL history that have come out. I think events like these moments, like these with the NFL and GLAAD make it easier for the next generation.”
Also on the purple carpet was Jeff Rohrer, who made history in 2018 as the first NFL player, former or current, to enter into a same-sex marriage.
Speaking on that experience, Rohrer said: “It was very hard to be the first guy in a same-sex marriage as an ex-NFL player especially being a Dallas Cowboy. You think it’s going to be harder, then you learn it’s really not, people are more accepting than you think.”