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LGBTQ+ inclusion takes center stage in Indianapolis sports

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)- Indianapolis sports teams are working to use their sporting platform to support LGBTQ+ inclusion.

News 8 spoke with Shelly Snider, Executive Director of Indy Pride, and Tracy Ellis-Ward, Pacers Sports and Entertainment, Senior Vice President of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to learn more about the impact of LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports.

The Pacers Sports and Entertainment’s first-ever Pride Night in March made history. The Indiana Fever also celebrated its Pride Night, sponsored by Salesforce. The event featured exclusive ticket packages and a limited-edition Fever rainbow logo t-shirt. A portion of the sales proceeds was donated to Stonewall Sports, a community-based sports organization supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.

“We wanted every fan to feel like they belong here, and the LGBT+ community is no different. The community showed immense support for our Pride Night, and it was an exciting moment for us as we continue to foster a more inclusive and diverse environment,” Ward said.

Besides Pride Night events, Pacers Sports and Entertainment actively engages with local LGBTQ+ organizations. Indy Pride, an LGBTQ+ organization, is hosting over 20 events this month, including the highly anticipated Indy Pride Parade and festival. Last year, more than 100,000 Hoosiers participated in Pride activities. This year, Pacers Sports and Entertainment will make an appearance.

Snider said, “The fact that organizations like the Pacers and the Fever are opening their doors and showing support is crucial. No one should have to hide who they are just because they love sports.”

Addressing those who may prefer sports and social movements to remain separate, Ward shared the following message:

“Often sports is considered a tremendous platform for people to form movements in history tells us that our goal is really to make sure everyone feels like they belong when they come here and have a great time.”