Terra Russell-Slavin never thought she’d find herself on the basketball court during the second quarter of an NBA playoff game at Staples Center.
But that’s where the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Director of Policy and Community Building stood on June 14 when she was one of five people honored during the LA Clippers Community Heroes ceremony.
“It was humbling,” Russell-Slavin (pictured, above) tells LGBT News Now. “I thought of my young self who was afraid of coming out partly because of team sports and LGBT bias. To see us openly recognized on the floor of the arena was pretty awesome!”
The Center was also one of the partners for the Clippers Pride Month merchandise campaign. The team invited the Center to participate in a community conversation where Clippers staff members learned more about the Center’s storied history and vital work.
“I think it’s important that sports and culture go hand-in-hand,” say Russell-Slavin. “This was a professional sports team going beyond the minimum and affirming LGBTQ identities bodes well for our country and our culture. We are making progress. We were being recognized not on a traditional Pride night but as part of their general community recognition. That felt like a step forward.”
Additional recognitions or partnerships in recent months with pro sports teams include:
- Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) honored the Center as an LAFC Community Hero during its Pride Night match on July 17. The Center’s Director of Advocacy and Mobilization Joey Hernández participated in a pre-game ceremony which included a flag procession on the field. (Hernández, pictured below, with fellow honoree Tony Hoang of Equality California.)
- LAFC also lauded the Trans Wellness Center (TWC) during the halftime Community Spotlight portion of its June 23 match. Managed and operated by the Center, TWC is a community-based partnership among six local organizations providing services and resources for transgender and gender non-conforming people under one roof in Koreatown.
- During the Los Angeles Dodgers LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 11, Stephanie Wade (pictured above), a client of Senior Services and Trans* Lounge, was revered as the Military Hero of the Game.
- LA Galaxy honored Health Services staff member Mar Marqusee, an LVN care coordinator, on May 15 as the Hero of the Game (pictured, below) during the soccer club’s annual Pride Night.