WNBA Launches Historic Pride Initiative

You can win a chance to attend a game of the 2014 WNBA Finals by entering the WNBA/AfterEllen Score Your Seats Sweepstakes.

Lesbians have been showing up to WNBA games from day one. There’s something about world class athletes with world class swagger that makes basketball irresistible. This month, the WNBA is returning the love by launching an unprecedented campaign to embrace the LGBT community called WNBA Pride. The campaign is presented by COVERGIRL and seeks to combat bias against the LGBT community while celebrating inclusion and acceptance.

But what does all that mean? Of course, inclusion and acceptance sound awesome but what the devil are they actually doing? During the month of June, there will be a series of pride-themed games, team participation at local pride festivals, and philanthropic efforts supporting the LGBT community. And proceeds from sales of the new WNBA Pride shirt (available at WNBASTORE.com or the NBA store on Fifth Avenue in New York City) will go to support GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).

wnbapridshirt2

The league is also planning to celebrate pride on national television. When the Tulsa Shock take on the Chicago Sky on June 22 at 1 PM, ESPN will air the game along with in-game promotions for WNBA Pride. The league will also work with GLAAD, GLSEN, and Athlete Ally to raise awareness on a more local level.

When it comes to the WNBA, it’s not just the fans who are part of the LGBT community; the league also boasts several out players.

Two-time gold medalist, Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx has gone from being the top pick in her draft class and WNBA Rookie of the Year to two-time WNBA Champion and Finals MVP in 2011. The Lynx captured the championship in 2013 and are hoping to repeat this season. Augustus has been a star for the team on the court and an advocate for equality off of it. In 2012 she spoke out against the ballot initiative in Minnesota that sought to ban same-sex marriage and announced her plans to marry her fiancée LaTaya Varner in the Twin Cities.

2013 WNBA Finals: Atlanta Dream v Minnesota Lynx - Game Two

Last year, Layshia Clarendon of the Indiana Fever was chosen ninth in last year’s draft out of the University of California-Berkeley. With her trademark golden mohawk, Clarendon is hard to miss both on and off the courts. It was some of her off the court work that first caught our eye. She wasted no time last year finding ways to work for LGBT causes.  While in college, she worked with Athlete Ally and added work with Br{ache the Silence to her repertoire at the start of her WNBA career. If you’re in Indy you can catch her on the court or off it as one of the grand marshalls of Indy Pride.

Indiana Fever v Tulsa Shock

Unless you have been under a rock for the past year you already know that Brittney Griner made history when she came out after being selected with the top pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. She has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and has used her own experience being bullied to give weight to her anti-bullying efforts. Since the 2013 WNBA season ended she wrote an autobiography, and spent the off-season playing overseas in China.

Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury - Game Two

Griner was hard to miss as the grand marshall of the Phoneix Pride parade.

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