Los Angeles Rams become first NFL team to sponsor an LGBT Pride event

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Progress is slowly coming to the NFL, as the Los Angeles Rams become the first team to sponsor an LGBT Pride event.

The LA-based team was announced today as a sponsor of the Venice Pride event in Venice Beach, Los Angeles.

As part of the event, the historic Venice sign that hangs over the area will light up the night with rainbow colours in support of equality.

A release says that the coloured lights will “shine as a symbol of inclusion”.

Molly Higgins, VP of Community Affairs for the Los Angeles Rams, said: “We are proud to work with Venice Pride and to stand in alignment with the LGBT community that is such an important part of the fabric of Los Angeles.

“Inclusion has always been a valued part of our organization and we see this as a unique way to publicly celebrate the diversity that makes this community so special.”

Grant Turck, co-founder and executive director of Venice Pride, told the LA Blade: “We are thrilled the Los Angeles Rams has chosen our celebration to make this welcome and historic overture of inclusion to the LGBT community.

“It’s great for Venice, for the Rams’ organization and for the LGBT community. Hopefully this is the beginning of even bolder outreach efforts to our diverse community.”

The kickoff ceremony will take place on June 2.

The team has form with the LGBT community.

Back in 2015, when the team was known as the St. Louis Rams, it drafted openly gay player Michael Sam, who to this day remains the only openly gay player in NFL history.

The player did not have a glittering career and was later cut from the team amid immense media scrutiny.

He later had brief spells with the Dallas Cowboys and Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, but eventually crashed out of the sport citing mental health issues.

Michael Sam

Sam has since made a sad admission – that things might have gone better if he had just stayed in the closet.

Former Rams Coach Jeff Fisher was later forced to deny “insulting” claims that the team had only drafted Sam as part of a backroom deal with the NFL.

Referring to the allegations, Fisher said: “It’s 100% incorrect… It’s insulting, from my standpoint, as it relates to Michael.

“We had three seventh-round picks. We drafted Michael, he was the best player on the board. Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that, something that I think that would benefit the organisation?

He insisted: “He worked so hard to try to make this football team. Obviously, we had a good defensive line. But it’s really not fair to Michael because of all the hard work he put in as well.”