L.A. Lakers Will Host Its First-Ever Pride Night Next Month

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that the organization will host its first-ever Pride Night on Oct. 4, the team announced on Friday in a statement. The celebration will take place during a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center.

The night will “celebrate diversity, inclusion, and unity by hosting members and supporters from the LGBTQ community,” its statement reads. Additionally, the Pride Night celebration will include special in-game entertainment and giveaways. All attendees will receive a free Pride Night shirt.

The team’s honorary captain for the night will be Violet Palmer, a pioneering NBA referee as both a woman and an out LGBTQ official, according to Outsports. Other participants of the event include fans from the Trevor Project of Los Angeles and the LGBTQ Center of Los Angeles, while performances will be delivered by The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Gay Basketball League (LAMBDA).

Additionally, the Lakers will take the event to present the “Laces of Unity” Award to Jason Collins, who became the NBA’s first openly gay active player in 2013 and has continued to work with the league as an NBA Cares Ambassador on promoting acceptance and inclusion, the team’s statement reads.

The Lakers will join a growing group of teams to hold an LGBTQ pride ceremony, following in the footsteps of others, including the New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns, and the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers will also join its baseball counterpart, the L.A. Dodgers, which has hosted six LGBTQ Pride Nights, according to the Q Voice News.

Earlier this year, Collins also attended the Phoenix Suns’ first Pride Night where he headlined a panel that discussed LGBTQ issues in the industry, as reported by The Arizona Republic. Despite NBA’s generally progressive attitude about a number of social issues, the league has lagged behind other professional leagues on LGBTQ issues, including the Women’s National Basketball Association, according to the Republic report.

No active player has come out since Collins, who said that coming out in the industry can feel like a business decision, rather than a personal one, as per the Republic.

“I was hoping that I was going to get another chance to play in the NBA, that someone would give me an opportunity,” he said. “There was only one team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“I tell that to other athletes. After making an announcement like I did, you might only get one opportunity, and it might not come right away. You just have to continue to have that faith and that belief that it’ll happen. It was very mentally tough.”

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