Athlete Ally, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist organization, has launched the national campaign #EveryFan, designed to engage athletic leagues, teams, athletes and sports fans in dialogue around fan culture. Founded in 2011, Athlete Ally has traditionally focused on locker room culture and making the playing field less discriminatory toward LGBT people. But the release of the first international study on homophobia in sports, Out On The Fields, highlighted an important statistic: "83 percent of American participants believe an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual person would not be very safe as a spectator at a sports event."
#EveryFan responds directly to this reality by empowering leagues, teams, athletes and other fans to show their support for members of the LGBT community.
"We created EveryFan because we believe all fans, including LGBT fans, should have a great experience cheering on their favorite teams and athletes," said Hudson Taylor, Athlete Ally founder and executive director.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Hawks and Seattle Reign have signed on to show their support for the initiative, along with 35 individual athletes, including Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe from the 2015 World Cup champion U.S. women's national team.
"Our fans are amazing! When we won the World Cup, it wasn't just a win for the team. It was a win for our fans. I'm on board for EveryFan because every fan, including LGBT fans, should feel fully included in sports," Rapinoe said of the campaign through a spokesperson.
#EveryFan continues the push forward for LGBT inclusion in sport, coming on the heels of other initiatives, such as WNBA Pride, the launch of the Sports Equality Foundation, and the continued work of the LGBT Sports Coalition. This campaign provides a different opportunity for teams, leagues, and athletes to engage in conversations about LGBT equality.
"I'm a big believer that athletes have a lot of culture capital," Taylor said. "If we can get our professional athletes to talk about what culture and conduct they want of their fans, I think that will do a lot of good in the world."
Katie Barnes is a digital media associate at ESPN. Follow them on Twitter at Katie_Barnes3.