Since opening it’s doors at the beginning of the 2015 season, Avaya Stadium has not only become a fortress for the Earthquakes team, but also an inclusive place for their fans. In the spirit of equality, the team will host their annual Pride Night on Friday, marking the fourth straight season they have held such an event.
In light of the recent events in Orlando, the match will feature an opening ceremony to honor those that lost their lives in the nightclub tragedy last month. To support the LGBTQ community, the Earthquakes will also donate $1 for every ticket used to a variety of charities, including the OneOrlando Fund, Project MORE Foundation and San Jose’s local Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center.
The San Francisco Bay Area has long been known as a safe haven for the community, with 6.2% of its population identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – highest percentage in the nation. And with the Billy DeFrank Community Center a mere two miles from the stadium gates, San Jose specifically has become a place where those in the LGBTQ community could congregate without fear of judgment or harassment.
Apart from holding annual Pride Nights, the Earthquakes have personal connections to the LGBTQ community as well. Former Earthquakes midfielder and San Jose native Matt Hatzke came out last year. Hatzke, a Santa Clara University alum, was drafted in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by the LA Galaxy before being traded to the Quakes in the preseason. He wouldn’t make an appearance for the club, but his presence would leave a lasting impression. Former sideline reporter Kate Scott is also a proud member of the LGBT community and will be on hand for the night’s festivities to kick the first goal.
As the team takes the field at Avaya Stadium on Friday, they will unify once again to seek another win on their home turf. With rainbow scarves and flags flying proudly in the air, the Earthquakes and their fans will also come together for a common goal: equality.