By Gabe Zitrin
47 years after the first San Francisco Pride Parade, Pride Week in San Francisco has become much more than a protest, or even a celebration of gay rights — it is a citywide celebration of San Francisco’s vibrant, open culture, and its values of equality, diversity, and acceptance.
San Francisco City Football Club, the Premier Development League soccer team that has called the City home since 2001, have joined the celebration in solidarity with their hometown with a special jersey for their Pride Parade day match, a new partnership with the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, which provides free and low-cost legal services to people with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Soccer is the perfect way to celebrate diversity, because anyone can meet one day in a park and play,” said SF City President Jacques Pelham. “You can be from anywhere, you can by gay, straight, trans, black, white, purple, doesn’t matter. If you’ve got six human beings and a ball, you can all have a great time.”
With the team missing the parade itself on June 25 to take on PDL Southwest Division leaders FC Golden State Force at Negoesco Stadium, it will be proudly play a game that unites all manner of people around the world, and do it in a new San Francisco Pride jersey for the occasion. The Classy logo on the front of the jersey will be rainbow-colored for the day, and the classic SF City crest will be replaced by the team’s alternate “Tower” crest, with the lightning bolts in rainbow colors. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off at the end of the season, with the proceeds benefitting ALRP.
“ALRP and SF City FC are a great partnership.” said Joachim Steinberg, who sits on the Board of Directors of ALRP and SF City. “SF City FC and ALRP share common values, including standing up for the most vulnerable people in our city.”
There is a long precedent in San Francisco and soccer of using sports to pull a fan-base closer and advocate for vulnerable communities. The Giants have held an annual “Until There’s a Cure Day” to support HIV and AIDS research at their home games for more than 20 years, and the United States Men’s National Soccer Team recently donned jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers for their June 3 friendly match with Venezuela in Sandy, Utah.