“OUT with the Soul, Champions for Equality” will be staged May 10, during the Soul’s match-up with the New Orleans VooDoo.
Philly’s pro-football club was established in 2004 and has won the American Conference Championship in the Arena Football League the last two seasons.
Chief operating officer John Adams said the concept was floated by him last summer and coincidentally a few weeks later, Soul co-owner Cosmo DeNicola also proposed hosting an LGBT night.
“We sat down with the ownership group and ran it by everybody and it was never a question of whether we should do it or not,” Adams said. “With some teams, that might be a question, but our ownership group was very on board. Our whole conversation was just about how we do it right because we don’t do theme nights just to do them; we want there to really be meaning and significance behind it.”
To that end, the club formed an LGBT advisory board, which has been meeting monthly to plan the event since the fall.
The team has nine home games, and Adams said organizers made sure to pick a game for LGBT-awareness night that will be nationally televised — it will be broadcast on CBS — to ensure maximum visibility.
“My co-owners and I are so proud to bring this special LGBT professional-football game to Philadelphia and a national TV audience, with a message of openness and pride,” DeNicola said.
The Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League will play an exhibition game on the field prior to kickoff, and the Soul is working on a networking event with LGBT chamber of commerce Independence Business Alliance. The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus will sing the National Anthem to start the game.
Players will all have rainbow colors incorporated into their uniforms that night, and the giveaway of the night will be 3,000 colored rally towels — with each section receiving a different color to form a rainbow around the arena.
“There’s going to be a fantastic presence, and it’ll be very noticeable when you walk into the arena that night that it’s LGBT-awareness night,” Adams said.
About 9,000 spectators usually turn out for Soul games.
Homophobia in sports has been a hot topic lately, with athletes like Jason Collins and Michael Sam recently coming out, and Adams said the team is eager to do its part to make LGBT people feel more welcomed in sports communities.
“We’re going to be telling our kids in 10-15 years that it used to be a big deal when people had to come out and tell people they were gay or that professional athletes didn’t tell anyone because they were afraid it would hurt their career, perceptions of them or how they were treated in the locker room. It’s crazy, but we’re living that history now,” Adams said. “In a few years, it won’t be a big deal but we can’t forget the challenges and issues that will come as part of getting to that point. We want to be a part of the process of getting rid of that stigma.”
Any community organizations or members interested in becoming involved in the planning process for “OUT with the Soul” can email Adams at email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.philadelphiasoul.com.