By Claire Weltz
This June is the 52nd Pride month, and Minnesota Aurora FC wants to join in the commemoration by lifting up and celebrating the inherent beauty and value of our Minnesotan LGBTQ community. And while Pride is a joyful occasion, we remember that the first Pride was a riot. We remember that the 1969 Stonewall Uprising was a new chapter for queer civil rights that we continue to write together.
When we refer to Minnesota Aurora as a “community club,” the center of our existence is bringing people together and that means moving beyond swapping in a rainbow logo or one-off theme games. Rather, it is building a year-round culture of inclusion.
Our Operations Coordinator Whitney Daleiden, who identifies as a queer and gender non-conforming woman, put it this way: “As we grow as a club, our relationships with LGBTQ+ community organizations and others is something we’re all excited about.”
One of the ways Minnesota Aurora is taking concrete steps to foster relationships with local LGBTQ+ organizations is by creating a limited Pride merchandise collection and donating 100% of the profits to RECLAIM.
RECLAIM is one of the region’s only resources where queer and trans youth ages 12-25 and their families can get financially accessible, specialized mental health care. Beyond therapy, RECLAIM provides community trainings, education, and outreach to local partners to change the overall landscape of access to care for queer and trans youth.
The merchandise available is centered around the Pride flag as well as other flags representing specific members of the LGTQ+ community (bisexual, transexual, asexual, pansexual, and more).
Aurora’s pride logos were designed by player Lydia Ruppert and staff member Claire Weltz. “Wearing something that I helped design was humbling, seeing it go from a screen to actual merch. Knowing that the design goes beyond a month-long profile picture and will benefit RECLAIM’s mission is even more amazing,” said Weltz.
“It’s more than a rainbow logo to me,” said Daleiden. “This is meant to signify a promise to fans and the community. A promise that we will continue to learn and do better. A promise to continue to diversify our staff, board, and volunteers. A promise to continue to implement inclusive and equitable processes organizationally to facilitate a welcoming space for all.”
That space goes beyond staff and fans. It includes players.
Makenzie Langdok wears the captain’s armband, and she wears a special version for Pride month. “When I first saw the Pride captain band, I was so excited to be able to represent the LGBTQ+ community,” said Langdok. “I’ve had so many people come up to me after the games and comment on the rainbow captain band. It seems like such a small thing, but visibility is everything. Growing up I didn’t really have any LGBTQ+ athletes to look up to in my own community, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be that for our fans/community.”
Daleiden added: “Working for an inclusive organization means not only seeing diverse representation throughout the board, staff, and volunteers, but to see inclusive and equitable processes and operations implemented in how the organization runs. A truly inclusive organization can’t be captured in a diverse photo. It must learn and breathe and pivot with its diverse operational foundation.”
“It means everything to me to play for an organization that supports the community myself, teammates, and coaches are part of. The inclusivity of the club is one of the main things that drew me to wanting to play for Aurora, it’s something I take a lot of pride in as a player,” Langdok said.
Aurora will be selling limited amounts of their Pride tank tops and scarves at their final two home matches that will benefit RECLAIM.