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The 49ers will be the NFL’s first team to create a fan club for members of the LGBTQ plus community.
The team announced Wednesdaythe creation of 49ers PRIDE designed to support and engage LGBTQ fans and allies at a “Words to Action” event at Levi’s Stadium in conjunction with San Jose State University focusing on activism in sports.
“This is just another way for our organization to connect with those in the LGBTQ plus community,” 49ers team president Al Guido told The Bee.
The fan club will be a network for the community to participate in philanthropic and social events, watch parties for 49ers games, and unique opportunities such as marching with members of the organization at the San Francisco Pride parade next month.
Wednesday’s town hall event included speeches from prominent social justice advocates, including renowned civil rights activist and sociologist Harry Edwards, a lead organizer in the Olympic Project for Human Rights that helped spur American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos to raise their fists during their medal ceremony of the 1968 Olympics.
“Every place I’ve gone,” Edwards said, “I’ve found LGBTQ present but not as respected as they should be.”
Teams throughout the country in all major sports have begun adopting initiatives designed to connect with the LGBTQ community. But often teams often face blow back, particularly on social media.
Guido said the 49ers weren’t concerned with any negative backlash as the team has long been connected to progressive initiatives while owners throughoutt the NFL are predominately conservative leaning.
“I think we were one of the first teams when gay marriage was passed to tweet out ‘love wins’ and change our social account,” he said. “I hope the world changes and there’s not people that say negative things. But our organization has always been about diversity and inclusion and we’re going to continue doing those things. So no amount of blow back (will change that). And frankly, our fans have been great, in this area and around the country, around us supporting these initiatives.”