The Washington Football Team this Thursday will be the first NFL team to host an official LGBTQ Pride Night at a game when the club hosts the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.
Teams from every other major professional sports league in America have already hosted an official Pride Night during a game. In part because NFL teams host so few games — only eight during the regular season — and because so many NFL teams sell out every game, few of them have had a Pride Night on the radar.
The Pride Night Out has come as Team DC completes its circle of pro LGBTQ nights in the Washington, D.C. area, having already hosted similar events with the Washington Nationals, Washington Mystics, DC United and others.
“It completes the full cycle for our pro teams for the pride night out series,” said Team DC executive director Brent Minor. “This was the one still standing outside the party room. For us, it’s good to now have a complete set. It’s an acknowledgement that there has been change.”
Part of that delay by the Washington Football Team was the nickname the club had clung to for so many years.
“We were not going to do anything with them until the team’s nickname changed,” Minor said. “The change in the name reflects the change that’s happened within the organization.”
Part of this Washington Pride Night Out will include performances by the LGBTQ DC’s Different Drummers and the gospel ensemble of the Gay Men’s Chorus of DC.
Tickets range from $30 to $130. There’s also a pre-game Pride party, including beer, wine and an all-you-can-eat buffet, for $28. That’s a really good deal.
In addition, the Washington Football Team will publicly make a pledge of inclusion to the LGBTQ community during the game.
Going beyond this game, Minor believes the Washington Football Team may be in the Capital Pride March and Festival next year.
Washington has had more former players come out than any other team, including David Kopay, the trailblazing first NFL player to come out publicly as gay. Jerry Smith, a Pro Bowl tight end for the team who deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was also on the team. Ray McDonald and Roy Simmons also played for Washington.
Other NFL teams have made gestures to the LGBTQ community. In fact, the Giants, whom Washington plays on Thursday, have supported the LGBTQ community on multiple occasions and John Mara Jr., son of Giants owner John Mara, is gay and set to be married to his boyfriend. In 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted and LGBT tailgate.
The Detroit Lions previously had an event hosted by the local LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (though it was not an official Pride Night, the team made clear) and a couple years ago offered a Pride ticket package.
Yet none of them — that we know of — have had an official Pride Night at a game.
You can buy tickets for Washington’s Pride Night Out here, for as low as $30.