The Kings hosted their seventh annual Equality Night tonight at their hometown arena, the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., with pre-game festivities, art, awards, music and more.
“We are excited to partner with the Sacramento Kings for Equality Night and work together to ensure that Sacramento is a region in which LGBTQ+ people thrive,” said Sacramento LGBT Community Center Director of Programs Koby Rodriguez, in a statement on the team’s website. “Celebrating events like Equality Night and the Pride March is an impactful way to support the LGBTQ+ community, create an environment where all people feel welcome and highlight the impact that LGBTQ+ people make in the Sacramento area.”
Echoing those remarks were Sacramento Kings Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis, who said the team is thrilled to use its platform to “recognize the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Sacramento is made up of diverse populations who all contribute greatly to this city,” said Kolokotronis, “and it is a privilege to honor the LGBTQ+ changemakers and advocates who support the region in such a meaningful way.”
During the game, three same-sex couples were captured kissing on the Kings’ KissCam.
British singer-songwriter and DJ Samantha Ronson headlined the night’s entertainment with a halftime performance.
Prior to the game, Ronson hosted 20 local young people from the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, ages 13-to-18, for a studio session powered by SMUD and Arden Fair. They’ll get a tour of the studio, and then Ronson will share her experiences and insight as an advocate in the LGBTQ community.
Throughout the concourse of the Golden 1 Center, art from the Sacramento LGBT Community Center was featured in an exhibit, along with banners for fans to write messages of support for equality, which will be included on the team’s float at the Sacramento Pride March in June.
During the game, videos were played on the huge arena monitors to honor and recognize members of the LGBTQ community who work within the Kings organization, prominent LGBTQ members who have paved the way in the sports world and LGBTQ advocates, who will be honored for their contributions to society and the fight for equality.
Also during the game, the Kings honored a local high school student with the 2020 Equality Award. Kimmera Smith has been accepted to San Francisco State thanks to their exemplary grades and school leadership. They are involved with the Sacramento Building Healthy Communities Youth Leadership Team, local HER movement iQSquad, Queer Voices at the Sacramento LGBT Center, and work on a youth mental health awareness project in collaboration with the Sacramento Building Healthy Communities Leadership Team.
Following the game, fans were invited to a panel discussion led by Rodriguez with prominent LGBTQ leaders and advocates, including the captain of the 2013 Final Four Cal Women’s Basketball Team Afure Jemerigbe, transgender triathlete, biathlete and race walker Chris Mosier, who also happens to be a six-time member of Team USA, as well as ESPN’s MLB Senior Editor and Baseball Prospectus Co-Founder Christina Kahrl and our own Cyd Zeigler.
As part of Equality Night at @Golden1Center tonight, join us for a panel discussion featuring prominent LGBTQ+ leaders & advocates.— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 5, 2020
Following the game, the first-come, first-served basis panel can be accessed by Sec. 115 on the Plaza Level for guided access to Assembly Lounge. pic.twitter.com/HHbseZhKKa
Those same panelists took part in a luncheon conversation earlier in the day Thursday with members of the Kings team, to discuss the intersection of sports, sexuality and gender identity.
Unfortunately the team failed to extend its record to four wins in a row Thursday night. The Philadelphia 76ers snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Kings, 125-108.