It started as a typical Sunday for Ben Ajani. The veteran Falcons cheerleader was down on the field welcoming the players before their season finale, when he was pulled aside and asked to head upstairs for a promotional appearance.
Usually, that meant greeting fans, or participating in some other kind of outreach. But on this day, Ajani didn’t see season-ticket holders when he exited the field. Instead, he saw the love of his life, who was down on one knee, with an engagement ring in hand.
“I thought it was just kind of a normal thing, ‘OK, we’ve got to go do a suite visit, or something like that,’” Ajani said. “And it wasn’t. My boyfriend walked up to the platform, and I was like, ‘What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here.’ They just all worked together.”
Ajani, a lifelong Atlantan who’s also worked in entertainment roles for the Dream and Hawks, says he couldn’t imagine a better spot for his engagement. In fact, he’s the second Falcon cheerleader who got engaged prior to a home game this season. One of his teammates was asked the question before the season opener.
“All cheerleaders want to get engaged at a game. It’s such a big part of your life,” Ajani said. “Most of us have cheered or danced for our entire lives, and there’s a lot of things that you miss out on — birthdays, trips and stuff like that — because during the season you’re pretty much committed. It’s this really, really big part of your life, and to be able to do something like a big milestone like an engagement, they’re all so happy for you.”
Ajani says multiple members of the Falcons organization helped his fiancée, Dominic Williams, plan the special day. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has long been a friend to the LGBTQ community, publicly opposing Georgia’s proposed anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2016 and hiring Katie Sowers as a scouting intern.
In Ajani’s two years with the team, he says he’s always been comfortable being himself. It doesn't get more real than your partner proposing to you before the last home game of the year.
“I never would’ve dreamed that,” he said. “To think how far we’ve come just as a society that we’re able to do that at a football game in front of tens of thousands of people.”
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