This year at least four current and former professional athletes will serve as grand marshals of Pride celebrations across North America.
Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is the most controversial selection, being named the grand marshal of the Queen City Pride Parade in Regina, Saskatchewan. While Ryan is from Regina, he does not identify as LGBTQ.
Ryan got a lot of attention a couple years ago when he told a homophobe to unfollow him, labeling the fan a “terrible human being.”
For many, that’s not enough to be named the titular head of a city’s entire Pride celebration, and many were upset that an LGBTQ person was not given the honor.
Others were happy to see someone in big-time pro sports step into the role in an attempt to continue to build a bridge between sports and the LGBTQ community.
Either way, he’s the grand marshal of the parade that takes place June 16.
Out gay boxer Orlando Cruz is the grand marshal of the Chicago Pride Parade. Cruz has an impressive professional record of 25-6-2. He came out publicly in 2012 and was Outsports’ Male Athlete of the Year in 2016. Chicago’s parade is June 24.
And Billie Jean King is one of three grand marshals of the New York City Pride March, which also takes place June 24. The tennis legend will preside over what will be the largest collection of professional sports in the history of pride marches.
Previously, skier Gus Kenworthy served as the grand marshal for Miami Pride in April.
In addition, various professional athletes will take part in other Marches and Parades across North America.
The New York City Pride March will feature many people associated with professional sports, as many pro-sports organizations are taking part including the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, WNBA, MLS and NWHL. Taking part in conjunction with those, and as part of Outsports Pride, are Ryan O’Callaghan, Jason Collins, Dale Scott, Harrison Browne, Katie Sowers and many others.
O’Callaghan will also be marching in the Boston Pride Parade, June 9, side-by-side with Rep. Joe Kennedy III. Collins marched with Kennedy, a college friend, several years ago in a moment that helped launch Nike’s BeTrue line to another level.
Olympic champion figure skater Eric Radford will participate in Toronto’s Pride celebration the same weekend as New York, Chicago and San Francisco hold their events.
If you know of other professional athletes who will be marching in pride parades, please leave a message below and we’ll be sure to include them!