The Pistons will unveil all-gender "Basketball For All" apparel for Pride Night. | Detroit Pistons

For Detroit Pistons vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Stefen Welch, promoting an all-gender clothing line for the team’s Pride Night was a natural fit.

“It’s an opportunity for people no matter who they are, the lives that they live, it’s an opportunity for people to feel welcome. They can be their authentic selves, as well as celebrating their favorite NBA team,” Welch told Outsports about the team’s 10th Pride Night on March 24.

As part of Pride Night, the Pistons are collaborating with the Phluid Project, which sells all-gender clothes and accessories, including at retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target, and Kohl’s.

Clockwise from bottom left: DJ Killa Squid, Detroit Dar and Natty Apple (Gabe Steffey) model Phluid’s Basketball For All gear. Killa Squid is a popular Detroit DJ; Detroit Dar is a vlogger and Gabe is a drag performer and the son of a Pistons employee. (Amanda J. Cain/ Detroit Pistons)

The Pride Night clothing collection — short-sleeve and long-sleeve T-shirts, a tank top and workout shorts — features the words “Basketball For All” with a rainbow accent and Detroit Pistons and Phluid Project below. The collection will be available on and at the Pistons’ team store at Little Caesars Arena. Pistons players will be gifted with the apparel and it will be worn by Pride Night participants, Welch said.

This is the first pro sports partnership for the six-year-old Phluid Project — its CEO and founder Rob Smith is a native of Detroit — and Welch expects more to come in the future.

“We hope this won’t be the last collaboration with a professional sports team. We know that we have a high platform and people are watching us, and oftentimes the professional sports world is a copycat business,” he said. “We want people to take this opportunity and leverage partnership opportunities with the Phluid Project because we know at the end of the day, it can impact a lot.”

Growing up in Michigan, Welch said he was around diverse groups of people, including those who were LGBTQ and that he learned to treat people as individuals, not part of the “other.” An invitation while in college at Oakland University drove home that point.

“I’ll never forget being in college and I was active in the student congress and I was invited to a drag show. I was like, ‘OK, this will be different for me, but I’ll go and support them.’ I worked with so many students at Oakland University who were a part of the Gay Straight Alliance and they became friends and we became advocates of each other and when I needed help and their voices, I was able to lean on them and vice versa,” he said.

It’s in that spirit of inclusiveness that has helped form Welch’s worldview, one he brought to the Pistons and now extends to the all-gender clothing line collaboration for Pride Night.

Don't forget to share: