The WNBA is really into pushing boundaries and breaking barriers and they’re doing it again with the launch of a campaign targeting the LGBT community of fans. A smart move on the heels of equality movements for gay rights, it capitalizes on a fact that the league has known for many years: a chunk of it’s fan base identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. According to a 2012 study commissioned by the WNBA, 25 percent of the female viewership came from women who identify as lesbian.
The campaign is aiming to have teams participate in pride festivals, other LGBT events and media outlets. WNBA president Laurel Richie feels like this is a step toward shifting perception and making strides toward greater changes. “For us it’s a celebration of diversity and inclusion and recognition of an audience that has been with us very passionately,” she stated in an interview with the Associated Press. “We embrace all our fans and it’s a group that we know has been very, very supportive. I won’t characterize it as ‘Why did it take so long?’ For me it’s been we’ve been doing a lot of terrific initiatives. The piece that’s different this year is unifying it.”
Brittney Griner, a player for the Phoenix Mercury who publicly came out as gay last year, is happy with the league’s strides for inclusion. ““We’ll pave the way and show its fine and there’s nothing wrong with it. More sports need to do it. It’s 2014, it’s about time.”
The initiative’s first supporting event will be a televised Pride match between the Tulsa Shock and Chicago Sky on June 22. June is also LGBT Pride Month.