The Orlando Pride scored over the weekend with a clever protest against Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” measure. The team’s athletes were filmed stepping off their bus in black T-shirts emblazoned with the word “Gay.”
The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” measure, which the Florida legislature has already passed, bans the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade public school classrooms. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to sign it into law.
“Arrived,” declared a tweet Saturday by the National Women’s Soccer League team. “With a purpose.”
The action could be seen as a gesture to mend fences with the Orlando Pride’s fans — known as the Black Swans. Some fans had been ordered to remove a banner at a match earlier this month that simply said “Gay” — also in protest against the new Florida measure — because it was “political.”
“GAY,” read a tweet from the Black Swans account at the time, sharing a statement that fans were “standing with their LGBTQIA+ community” and that there wouldn’t be any silly chants for the team until “our concerns are addressed.”
The Orlando Pride quickly apologized.
“A mistake was made when the Club asked the Black Swans to remove the banner that said ‘GAY,’” read an Orlando Pride statement. “The organization admits it wrongly focused on signage policies and procedures, instead of allowing the important meaning of this message.”
It is a “privilege and duty to create a safe, inclusive environment at Orlando Pride matches, and the Club deeply apologizes for violating that trust through this incorrect decision,” the statement added. “Moving forward, the Black Swans have approval to hang the banner at Pride home matches if they wish to do so.”
Orlando Pride players themselves have a record of political activism. At their first 2020 game, the team released a video to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black team members also wore warm-up shirts at the game featuring the names of people who had been killed by police or because of their race. Their teammates wore shirts urging: “Say their names.”
Last year, the players came out onto the field wearing shirts reading “Respect, defend, support, believe protect Black women.”