DENVER — As fans walked through the doors to Hamilton Gymnasium on February 5, a table displayed three versions of the LGBTQIA flags, a bowl full of rubber rainbow wristbands, and a game day program with graduate transfer Indeya Sanders draped in a rainbow flag.
"It was great just to walk out and see the rainbow flags and people waiving them," Sanders said.
It was a visible sign of support and an even clearer sign of progress.
"When we get these seats at the table, whether it's someone who identifies as LGBTQ or black or female, we have to use those seats," DU women's basketball head coach Doshia Woods said.
Woods used her seat to push for the school's first-ever pride game.
"Sometimes it might be uncomfortable for people, but we can't just be content with having a seat at the table, and not being in a position to push the envelope," she said.
For Woods and her wife Lindsay Werntz, hosting a pride game is personal. The two not only share a life together, but also a court.
"Being authentic is very important and walking your truth," Werntz said. "This is not just a game to us. This is not just a job to us. We want our players to understand that it's okay for them to live their true self also."
That message resonates with graduate transfer Indeya Sanders, who celebrated a pride game at her first school, American University.
"It's incredibly important to be coached and mentored by a coaching staff that is a reflection of an identity that is a big part of my identity," she said.
While a pride game's purpose is to celebrate the marginalized LGBTQ+ community, its greater goal is inclusivity.
"The LGBTQ community is such a huge one in women's basketball and I think what I would want the community to take from this is that all are welcome to our games. Sometimes, we're not able to be out or we're not acknowledged," Werntz said. "The biggest thing is for our players that may identify as LGBTQ, that they feel that they have some support, and then for our fans and our community, whether it's allies or people that identify, that they know that coming to a DU women's basketball game is somewhere where we accept all."
"I just want people to feel like they can be comfortable, they can be themselves here, and it's a place where they can feel seen and heard and who they are is enough," Woods added.
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