Dozens of Washington Commanders employees took to the streets of D.C. this weekend to celebrate Capital Pride and spread the message that, no matter one's sexual orientation or gender expression, football is for everyone.
"Our influence reaches far beyond the game, and by actively participating in Capital Pride, we send a powerful message of acceptance and celebration and demonstrate our commitment to inclusivity, equality, and respect for all communities," said the Commanders' Vice President of Guest Experience Joey Colby-Begovich.
Some Commanders who attended Capital Pride identified as LGBTQ+. Others have loved ones who are a part of the community. Decked out in rainbow "W's," all of these Commanders came together on Saturday for the Pride Parade and Sunday for the Pride Festival to make it loud and clear that Washington football supports LGBTQ+ individuals, celebrates diversity and fosters inclusivity.
Pride weekend for the Commanders began with Saturday's parade. A large group made up of volunteers from the organization as well as members from the DC Gay Flag Football League marched the route around Northwest D.C. and handed out 50,000 Commanders Pride-themed giveaways. Among the group were members of the Command Force and hype squad who used their special talent to pump up parade goers.
"The best part of the day has been the energy all around, dancing to the music, seeing everyone dress up," said Command Force coach Christie Horan. "It's really important for our group to come out and march for Pride because we want to celebrate all of DC culture and every individual in D.C."
The sense of unity among the sea of rainbows on Saturday was palpable. Everyone cheering, dancing and waving their Commanders flags shared a belief that LGBTQ+ folks deserve to feel the same joys of life that straight folks get to feel. For many repping the Commanders on Saturday, that idea isn't abstract; rather, it's very real and personal.
"I'm here today to show support for my brothers," said Commanders assistant head groundskeeper Matt Horak. "Taking action be an ally and really showing that you're there can mean the whole world."
On Sunday, the focus turned to the Pride Festival, which was on America's Mainstreet on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Commanders, who sponsored the Sports Zone at the event, joined nearly 300 exhibitors for a day full of entertainment, education, food, drink and more. Notably, there was excitement around the Pride Night OUT games the team has hosted the last two years and an upcoming celebration of the community set for this season.
"To me, the most powerful aspect of being at the festival was how many people genuinely appreciated our presence and thanked us for our initiatives surrounding our Pride Night Out game," Account executive for group sales Ari Kwitkin-Close said. "We're beyond excited to host our Pride pregame tailgate and continue the party on Dec. 3 at FedExField!"
From parading to chatting with fans, the Commanders presence at Capital Pride highlighted the unique and influential ways the Burgundy & Gold can make a difference around social justice issues.
"This weekend I was reminded of the power of our team and our brand to unite, inspire, and drive positive change," Colby-Begovich said.