The National Football League (NFL) will once again host A Night of Pride event during Super Bowl week, leaving bigots up in arms.
The third annual A Night of Pride with GLAAD, presented by Smirnoff, will be held on 7 February ahead of the Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas four days later.
It will be an evening of music, cocktails and interview-style conversations with GLAAD, including a panel on how inclusion in sports advances acceptance for LGBTQ people, and will feature a special live performance by singer-songwriter VINCINT.
GLAAD president and chief executive Sarah Kate Ellis said: “[Our] partnership with the NFL is committed to creating spaces where all fans can celebrate, and to growing important visibility for LGBTQ fans at the Super Bowl and all season long.
“The third annual A Night of Pride, at Super Bowl LVIII, will spotlight LGBTQ leaders in sports as we work to create safe and inclusive sports environments for our community.”
Jonathan Beane, the league’s senior vice-president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, added: “Our third annual Night of Pride with GLAAD is yet another strong step to accelerating acceptance and demonstrating the NFL’s unwavering support of the LGBTQ community.
“We look forward to continuing and strengthening our efforts to ensure football is for everyone.”
News of the event was met by anti-LGBTQ+ fans predictably promising a boycott, with the night being labelled ‘woke’.
“NFL being lost to wokeness,” one anonymous social media user claimed.
Another keyboard warrior wrote: “More like a night of watching something else,” while a third grumbled: “No one will watch or be there.”
However, not all the reaction was negative.
A number of LGBTQ+ fans and allies came out to praise the event and poke fun at those who were outraged by it.
“I hope everyone who goes has a great time and I wish all the homophobes in the comments a miserable day,” one person wrote.
Another said: “As a queer football fan, thank you. This means so much.”
And as a third pointed out: “Human rights isn’t wokeness. If you live your life without having to care about racial or LGBTQ+ equality, then you are privileged. Educate yourselves.”
A fourth, more humorous take, read: “You dudes are so f**king soft, I swear. Ninety per cent of the dudes commenting ‘ew’ can’t even afford the flight ticket to Las Vegas, so just relax.”
This is not the first time LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport has prompted a backlash from homophobes and transphobes.
Last summer, the LA Dodgers faced protests after the baseball team hosted the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at its Pride event.
The drag collective were invited to appear at the Los Angeles club’s 10th annual Pride Night before officials backtracked on the offer after facing criticism from religious groups – only to U-turn again and reinstate the invite after facing a further backlash from LGBTQ+ fans.
An estimated 150,000 people are expected to travel to Nevada for Super Bowl LVIII, which is the championship game of the NFL’s 2023 season. Last year’s Super Bowl attracted a US TV audience of more than 115 million.