Jonathan Romero is the first and only male cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers’ Gold Rush cheer team. He’ll be cheering for the team in Super Bowl LVIII. | San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl LVIII will feature — in addition to two talented teams on the gridiron — two talented cheer and dance squads for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

It will also feature one gay male cheerleader — Jonathan Romero with the 49ers Gold Rush team.

Romero was in Las Vegas on Wednesday, attending a flag football clinic for LGBTQ youth, hosted by the NFL at the NFL Experience, with his teammates. Then he was off to the Night of Pride event, hosted by the NFL and GLAAD, where he was recognized from the stage.

“I am so grateful to be able to represent the LGBTQ community at Super Bowl LVIII,” he told Outsports. “My first Super Bowl, my second season, it’s amazing. I was able to represent my Latino community in Mexico City last season, and now I’m able to experience this and be at a Pride vent and pour myself into something I’m passionate about, which is my community.”

His participation in the events, and his impending appearance on the field at Super Bowl LVIII, mean a lot to the young man who was often treated poorly by other youth growing up.

“Fifteen-year-old Jonathan, who would get bullied for being a dancer or made fun of for crossing his legs weirdly or talking to nothing but girls, if I could go back in time and tell him something, it would be, sooner or later you’re going to be part of something so much bigger than yourself,” Romero said. “And here we are at this Super Bowl. I feel very represented because I’m with the 49ers as an out gay man, and I get to partake in some change with this league.”

By Romero’s side this week has been one of his besties, former Los Angeles Rams cheerleader Quinton Peron, who participated in two Super Bowls and sported his Super Bowl ring at this week’s NFL events.

Quinton Peron (left) and Jonathan Romero celebrate the LGBTQ community with the NFL and GLAAD at Night of Pride at Super Bowl LVIII. | Quinton Peron

“I’ve told Jonathan, for the whole week, buy everything you can, soak it all in,” Peron said. “And when you walk through that tunnel, let the tears flow. When they’re singing the National Anthem, live in that moment. This is it.”

With him walking through the tunnel will be his Gold Rush teammates, who spoke effusively about their love for Romero.

“Johnny being on the team has been the most enriching experience,” Anika told Outsports at the Super Bowl Opening Night. “He’s one of my best friends on the team. He brings a good energy to every practice, regardless of how tired we are, regardless of how long it’s been, he’s got a good attitude from start to finish. And he crushes the dances on top of that.”

San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush cheerleaders Alexa, Elena, Anika and Jackie celebrate at Super Bowl Opening Night in Las Vegas. | Outsports

Some voices on social media have questioned whether men should be “taking opportunities” from women in NFL cheer and dance, despite the fact that cheer is not a gendered sport.

Universally, the women welcomed men into the profession with open arms.

“There’s nothing anyone can take away from any of us,” Alexa said. “We are all talented. We’re beautiful. We own what we do. If a male comes into our space that doesn’t mean our light dims. Our light gets brighter and they bring different attention to our sport.”

The Chiefs Cheerleaders who spoke to Outsports agreed.

“I don’t think it’s a women’s or men’s sport,” Chiefs Cheerleader Grace said. “It’s very open. I’ve loved seeing the other organizations with the male dancers, i’ve gotten close to some of them and i’ve loved seeing them make their mark on their organization.”

In fact, the Chiefs have had a male cheerleader and dancer — Dom — in recent years, though the women who spoke to Outsports said he is now pursuing other business ventures.

“He made his mark and definitely set the bar high with the Chiefs organization,” Grace said of Dom.

“We’re totally open to males trying out,” Chiefs cheerleader Katie said. “There’s no restriction on it. We’re just really proud of Dom.”

Romero will be, by Outsports’ count, the eighth male dancer to participate in a Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens have men on the cheer team who have participated in the Super Bowl, but they are there for strength stunts, not as dancers.