How the Los Angeles Rams champion inclusivity, show their support for the LGBTQ+ community

ByRob Fukuzaki and Joe Maxfield via KABC logo
Saturday, August 21, 2021
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Earlier this year, the Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history by becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Here's a look at how the Rams have encouraged inclusivity.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Earlier this year, the Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history by becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay.

It was an important moment for inclusivity in the NFL. A week after Nassib's announcement, the league declared "football is gay" in a new commercial, showing its support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Seven years before that, there was another historic moment. The then-St. Louis Rams picked Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL in the seventh round. Sam cemented that moment by kissing his boyfriend live on national television.

Sam became the first openly gay player to take the field in the NFL preseason, but never played a regular season game.

In 2018, the Rams made history again by adding the league's first male cheerleaders -- Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, who also happen to be openly gay.

"It's just crazy that something I decided to do on a whim ended up being life-changing," Peron said. "My career started because I saw somebody who looked like me on TV. So I think the more people can put themselves out there and take that risk, the better the younger generation will be."

This year, for Pride Month, the Rams teamed up with Hamburger Mary's to sponsor a drag queen bingo event, and with the Varsity Gay League to kickoff a flag football league - part of the organizations' year-round commitment to inclusivity.

As for the Rams cheerleaders, Peron and Jinnies are now captains on a team that now has five men, including new members Brendan Ryan and Jose Capetillo.

"The whole time I was just kind of picturing my younger self in the crowd and what I would want him to see," Ryan said of his first game at SoFi Stadium. "The fact that we have the opportunity to have a platform to inspire younger men, you know, to stay in that dance class and even if they're the only boy."

Meanwhile, Nassib says the reaction he's received since coming out has been overwhelmingly positive. The sports apparel retailer Fanatics said Nassib's jersey became its top-seller after his announcement.

Both Nassib and the NFL also publicly donated to The Trevor Project, which helped bring in a flood of donations to the non-profit, which provides suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ+ community.