DENVER — In an effort to celebrate the LGBTQ community and its allies, the Denver Nuggets hosted its annual Pride night on the first Saturday of November. The public display by one of the city's professional sports teams went great distances to show the community how much it is welcomed and valued.
"First and foremost, visibility saves lives," You Can Play sports partnership director Josie Nixon said. "If I had known when I was a kid that I could turn on a sports game--I was a soccer player--if I could have watched a Pride night, who knows, maybe I would still be playing soccer."
The Nuggets made sure their pride was visibly on display, and it all started with the singing of the national anthem by the Denver Gay Men's Chorus.
"It's super important for anyone who is coming of age right now to see this that they too can be involved in athletics, that they can do music, that they can be involved in the Denver community period, a community that supports their development, a community that is there for them, that they do have an outlet, for their own expression of self," chorus associate director Raul Dominguez said.
That feeling of belonging is exponentially greater in the Mile High. Alex Hart is a local sports fan and athlete in the community. He said he's been a spectator and participant at numerous pride events across the country, but none have been as welcoming as those in Denver.
"You hear people yelling out slurs, oftentimes in those environments, really drunk people saying those things, but every time I've been to one of these Pride nights or Pride events with one of the professional sports organizations in Denver, I have felt like we are very much celebrated by the people around us or just, 'You're a fan, cool! I'm cool with it,'" Hart said.
Nixon said the majority of sports fans in Denver are now allies, and that's thanks to these efforts.
"What we're facing is what I would hope to be a last stand of anti-LGBTQ sentiments and those are going to get louder and louder, they're just going to get fewer and far between."