NFL, GLAAD to host ‘a night of Pride’ ahead of Super Bowl

Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD
Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD will be on hand for the NFL’s Pride event on February 8.
Diarmuid Greene/Collision Conf./Sportsfile/Wikimedia Commons

Yet again, the NFL and GLAAD are again teaming up to host a “night of Pride” in Phoenix during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVII between Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.

The event — slated for February 8 — will feature NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as out bisexual former NFL player RK Russell, out gay Hampton University defensive back Brian Perkins, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, NSYNC star Lance Bass, recording artist Betty Who, RuPaul’s Drag Race cast members, and several others. The event will be held at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix. Folks will begin arriving on the red carpet at 6 p.m., followed by panels and performances at 7 p.m.

The evening is slated to include music, cocktails, and discussions surrounding inclusion in sports. There will be a panel discussion about how sports can advance LGBTQ acceptance and fight discrimination against queer individuals, including student-athletes.

The same kind of event was held ahead of last year’s Super Bowl in Inglewood, California, and featured out former NFL players such as Russell, Ryan O’Callaghan, and Jeff Rohrer. Alyssa Milano, Anthony Bowens, August Getty, Big Freedia, and Braunwyn Windham-Burke were also among those in attendance. 

The NFL announced new policies last year in the midst of criticism over diversity, equity, and inclusion — most visibly among coaching roles. The announcement included changes to hiring practices, data collection, and networking, programming, and development. The NFL has seen a rise in the number of women involved in the league as coaches and referees. 

LGBTQ history was made in the NFL in 2021 when Carl Nassib, then a member of the Oakland Raiders, became the first active NFL player to come out and play a regular season game. He subsequently joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Russell also played for the Buccaneers, among other teams, prior to coming out as bisexual in 2019, but he has yet to land with another team.

In 2014, Michael Sam became the first out player to be selected in the NFL draft when he was chosen by the Rams. He played in the preseason, but never saw regular season action.