The WNBA announced Wednesday that it will become the first pro sports league to specifically market itself to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“For us it's a celebration of diversity and inclusion and recognition of an audience that has been with us very passionately,” WNBA President Laurel Richie told the Associated Press. “This is one of those moments in the 'W' where everybody comes together.”
The effort includes having teams participate in local gay and lesbian pride festivals and parades, working with advocacy groups to raise awareness of inclusion, and advertising with lesbian media. A nationally televised pride game will take place between Tulsa and Chicago on June 22.
“We embrace all our fans and it's a group that we know has been very, very supportive. I won't characterize it as 'Why did it take so long?' For me it's been 'We've been doing a lot of terrific initiatives.' The piece that's different this year is unifying it,” Richie said.
A study commissioned by the WNBA in 2012 found that 25% of lesbians watch the league's games on TV while 21% have attended a game.
“I'm so glad that we're finally making a push to the LGBT community, who is a strong supporter of the WNBA,” said Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. “Our league being the first to make that push and bring more attention to it is great. We'll pave the way and show it's fine and there's nothing wrong with it. More sports need to do it. It's 2014, it's about time.”