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Chiefs or 49ers: Who should an LGBTQ fan root for in the Super Bowl?

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In the battle for the support of LGBTQ football fans. the 49ers have the edge, but the Chiefs offer their own reasons to be cheered on.

NFL: Super Bowl LIV Opening Night
George Kittle, left, and Travis Kelce are the starting tight ends for the 49ers and Chiefs and LGBTQ allies.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LIV will be played Sunday in Miami between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs (kickoff is 6:30 p.m. ET) and if you are already a fan of either team, you can stop reading right now since nothing here will stop you from rooting for your team.

But if you are an LGBTQ fan not rooting for either, here are reasons that might sway you one way or the other. Overall, the edge in LGBTQ rooting interest lies with the 49ers for one big reason — they have the only openly gay participant, but there are also reasons to swing fan towards the Chiefs.

Root for the 49ers because of ...

Katie Sowers

Sowers, 33, is the first woman and first openly gay coach in Super Bowl history (James Brady of SB Nation has a great background piece on her).

The offensive assistant was one of the stars of Monday’s Super Bowl media day and her story inspires women, LGBTQ people and the parents of young girls who now can dream of one day making it in the NFL.

“She’s one of the coolest coaches I’ve ever had,” 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders said of Sowers this week. “I like being around here. Just how she goes about her business and how positive she is.”

In addition to the female angle, Sowers has not shied away from discussing her sexual orientation. She willingly came out as gay in 2017 on Outsports and said this when asked why being out was important:

“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are. There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation. The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”

Sowers is also likely the only participant Sunday to already be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

49ers PRIDE group

This season, the 49ers started 49ers PRIDE, the first NFL team-sanctioned LGBTQ fan group. The team held viewing parties this season and handed out 49ers merchandise with a rainbow theme. It was a smart initiative from the organization and one other teams should emulate.

George Kittle and Richard Sherman

Kittle, a tight end, and Sherman, a cornerback, are two of team’s stars, so their participation in a video announcing 49ers PRIDE was meaningful. With no openly gay players in the NFL, we will need allies like Kittle and Sherman to support one who does come out.

“Forty-Niner faithful — you’ve helped us pioneer a group of dedicated fans for over 70 years. We’re proud to announce 49ers Pride, the official community of 49ers fans who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies,” Sherman said.

“As we prepare for the upcoming football season, we want to celebrate the passion of all the faithful, no matter how they identify,” said Kittle. “If your team is the Red and Gold, you belong in the 49ers family.”

Root for the Chiefs because of ...

Travis Kelce and Terrell Suggs

The Chiefs have at least two players who would support having an openly gay teammate.

“Anybody in this world [can play],” Kelce, a tight end, told Outsports’ Jeremy Brener. “I’m comfortable with who I am and I expect everyone to be comfortable with who they are. I respect people for their views and opinions.”

Suggs, a linebacker acquired late in the season by the Chiefs, had a long career with the Baltimore Ravens, and said in 2013 that his Ravens’ team would welcome a gay teammate. I doubt his views have changed with the Chiefs.

“We wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Suggs said in 2013. “We don’t care. Our biggest thing in the locker room is to just have fun and stay loose. We don’t really care too much about that. We’re a football team. I said it yesterday; everybody deserves a certain amount of privacy. Who cares? Whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice.

”On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality. To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it.”

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids

Davids, a Democrat, is an openly lesbian first-term member of Congress from the Kansas City area. The former mixed martial artist is a big Chiefs fan and has a Super Bowl wager with Bay Area Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Davids wagered barbecue from Slap’s, a Kansas City, Kansas barbecue restaurant located close to her district office. Swalwell put up chocolate from the Blommer Chocolate Company in his district.

“As a candy lover myself, I’m excited to taste some of California’s finest chocolates, but nothing will be as sweet as when Kansas City beats the 49ers,” Davids said in a statement. “With players like Pat Mahomes on the field and thousands of KC fans in the stands, I have no doubt we’ll bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back home where it belongs.”

Ryan O’Callaghan

O’Callaghan came out as openly gay in 2017 after retiring from the NFL following a career with the Chiefs and New England Patriots. As Cyd Zeigler wrote in O’Callaghan’s coming out story, “he spent his time in football preparing for his suicide, yet thanks to a small group of people within the Chiefs organization he ultimately found the will to live as the real Ryan O’Callaghan.”

David Price, the former head trainer of the Chiefs, died in 2018 and was instrumental in helping O’Callaghan. “I am fortunate to have met, worked with and become friends with Dave Price,” O’Callaghan told Outsports. “He was a great man and true professional who was there for me when I needed someone the most. I am forever grateful for everything he did for me.”

As for me, I am fine with either team winning, though seeing Sowers with a Super Bowl ring would be sweet.