Earlier this week I detailed why Pride means a lot to me and what Minnesota United is doing for Pride Night this Friday night. But the club aren't the only ones involved in helping the LGBTQ+ community. Loons players Collin Martin and Eric Miller are both participating in the of Playing for Pride program.
Playing for Pride raises money and awareness for LGBTQ+ rights with donations going to Athlete Ally. Each player associated with Playing for Pride donates based on appearances, goals, and assists.
You can also donate here.
Outside of the two United players there are 36 USL players, 32 MLS players, 25 NWSL players, 13 PDL players, 1 WPSL player, and 11 NPSL players including Minnesota TwinStars’ Tyler Oliver and Minneapolis City SC’s Will Kidd.
“I did it last year as well,” explained midfielder Collin Martin. “It’s a cause I think is great: inclusion and getting guys in the locker room to talk about accepting people and being able to talk about people who are different from you and support them. Not only Playing for Pride and talking about [it] in the locker room but also then donating money and putting it towards a good cause.”
Fullback Eric Miller hopes to change some of the culture surrounding sports.
“The reason I decided to join Playing for Pride was just to kind of trying to make the sporting community a little bit more of an open place,” he said. “I think for a long time it’s been a little homophobic, there’s some masculinity stuff going on there that I think guys maybe haven’t always in the past been the most friendly to the LGBTQ+ community. I think moving forward to bring some light on to that and show guys are willing to be open to that. Here it’s been great with all the fans creating super open spaces where everyone feels comfortable I think that’s been awesome.”
For now, Martin and Miller are the only players on Minnesota’s roster who participate.
“I didn't really talk about it with anybody,” admitted Martin. “I know Eric is doing it but I haven’t talked to him about it because I did it last year and Sam Cronin did it last year with me. I haven’t really told anyone about it—maybe I should. It would be nice for guys to join in and I know the fans and people around it really like to see people supporting Playing for Pride and it means a lot to people, so I should ask them.”
“I think we have a couple guys which is awesome,” said Miller. “I think probably anyone would do it if you asked them which is awesome. I think probably guys aren't fully aware of it. I know in Colorado we had a couple guys do it and I think as it grows throughout the league you’re seeing a ton of guys whether it’s MLS, USL, PDL, NWSL I think you’re seeing people from all over raising that awareness. It’s really cool to see how willing everyone’s been to take part and how excited everyone’s been to bring awareness to something that hasn't in the past gotten as much chat as it probably should have.”
Though he isn’t participating in Playing for Pride, current captain Michael Boxall will be wearing a special rainbow armband for the match. The meaning isn’t lost on him.
“Anytime you go out there and you’re able to represent minorities and give them support where in the past--and even in the present--they haven’t felt that, it’s something that we as footballers need to do,” he said. “Stand up and be the voice for people who have felt marginalized. It’s a big moment for us and I know it’s a big moment for the club and definitely the crowd will get behind it too.”
This is United’s 5th annual Pride Night but the first in which players will wear a special jersey for the match.
Thank you so much @MNUFC for this incredible surprise! I am honoured and will wear it with PRIDE. #MLS pic.twitter.com/uYZ9IVdgKn— Shireen Footybedsheets Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) June 27, 2018
The Loons will play FC Dallas for Pride Night 2018 on Friday June 29th at 7 PM.