Talking Pride 
By: NWSL Editor
NWSL Talking Pride, presented by Google Pixel 

With panelists Ali Krieger, Hilary Knight, Chris Mosier and Diana Rodriguez

“It’s so exciting to see the change and how positive it has become to play in the NWSL,” said Ali Krieger at the inaugural NWSL Talking Pride presented by Google Pixel panel Thursday, June 13 at the historic Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in New York City.

A long-time outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and equal pay, the two-time World Cup Champion and 2023 NWSL Champion was joined on the panel by three individuals who also use their voices and platforms to advocate for others – Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist, nine-time World Champion and ESPN analyst Hilary Knight; Pride Live Co-Founder and CEO Diana Rodriguez; eight-time member of Team USA, four-time National Champion and Founder of TRANSATHLETE.COM Chris Mosier.

The panelists shared their personal experiences as members of the LGBTQIA+ community and as athletes, highlighting the significant impact their sport has had on their lives and communities and how they and their organizations can be a vehicle for change. Notably, Krieger, Knight and Mosier shared a similar sentiment about how they found their voices through sports.

“I wish I would have spoken up on issues that were important [when I was younger] but I didn't have that confidence,” said Krieger. “And then playing at the highest level, I think we can all agree, you start to build that up and then you have numbers around you and support from your teammates and your coaches and the staff.”

“It’s a growth process and a journey and [it takes] a level of confidence to have that consistency of voice and finding other people who are like-minded to be able to support you through it because sometimes you do feel as though you're on your own island even though you aren’t,” echoed Knight.

Knight was a leading voice in the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team’s fight for equal pay in 2017, and during the panel, she cited Krieger and the USWNT’s own fight for equal pay as a source of empowerment. “The work that we put in to fight for equality was never just for us, it was about women across all industries around the entire world,” responded Krieger.

When asked how brands and companies can support Pride year-round, Rodriguez noted that sports are a year-round activity, with games happening all the time. “There’s an opportunity every single day to share a message,” said Rodriguez. A message, everyone on the panel echoed, of inclusion and welcomeness that leagues, organizations and athletes can share just by simply protecting their queer fans and creating safe spaces for them. Knight also shared an anecdote of a fan coming up to her after a game and thanking her for making them feel safe coming to a hockey game. Krieger also had a similar experience at the NCAA Final in 2019 in San Jose of a family thanking her for her representation.

Mosier shared that when he first came out, his teammates on the New York City Triathlon Club were his biggest supporters – just another example of the way sports can bring people together. “It didn't change the way that they thought of me,” he said, “It didn't change their relationship with me, but what it did was open up a window for them into my experience.”

Mosier now mentors individuals nationwide and offers advice to parents and coaches who want to support the athletes in their lives. This commitment, in his experience, is the biggest indicator that society is moving towards a brighter future, one where everyone can live their authentic selves. “I was the first trans man to have that level of visibility,” he said, “and I saw an opportunity to influence and help other people have a better understanding.”

The Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in New York officially opens its doors on June 28th, with the NWSL being the first organization to access the space. The Visitor Center will serve as a resource for education and reflection, allowing queer community members to honor those who came before them and providing allies with guidance on how to support their queer loved ones.

“We have a quote on our window out there and it encourages people to be brave and to be true to themselves,” said Rodriguez, who has tirelessly been leading the efforts since 2016 to secure funding and support to open the space. “The first one is sometimes harder than the second.”

And how can allies help relieve the burden from members of the LGBTQIA+ community in pushing for change? Chris Mosier had one simple message: speak up, support your LGBTQIA+ friends and teammates, use your voice, and fight to create a space for trans and queer community members to speak their truth.

Watch the full NWSL Talking Pride presented by Google Pixel here.