In this age of so many injustices and protests, I wanted to spotlight one organization or should I say one person who is raising awareness for the LGBTQ Community the right way. But before I start let me just state any rude or nasty comments will be deleted. I hate that I must state that but experience has shown me that most people can’t be nice especially when they don’t agree with the writer’s opinion. It is no secret that Austin da Luz is one of my favorite soccer players- if not my favorite. Over the past several years, I have gotten to know him not only as a soccer player but as a person. The more I have gotten to know him the more respect I have gained for him and I applaud him for being a positive role model for today’s youth.
Okay enough ramblings, let’s rewind back to March of this year at the NCFC’s ( North Carolina Football Club formerly known as the Carolina Railhawks) meet the team event. Austin told me in a conversation that he had something in the works but didn’t fully disclose what it was because he wasn’t ready to announce it yet. A couple of weeks later Playing for Pride was introduced to the soccer community for all to see and to support the LGBTQ community.
What is Playing for Pride you ask? Well, I think Austin’s words say it all.
“Playing for Pride is a project I decided to start prior to the season in hopes of raising money and awareness for the LGBTQ community ( for their rights and equality). The basic idea was that I would donate a certain amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign for every game I played this season. The breakdown I came up with is $2 per game played, $3 per game started, $4 per assist, and $5 per each goal. Numerous players and many others ended up joining me in my pledge and we have encouraged fans and supporters to match our donations throughout the season, hoping that everyone donating a little would add up to a lot and it has! -Austin da Luz
(Side note here- Gracie took part of the money that she got from her Quinceanera and donated in honor of my dad. I also donated part of my earnings to it at as well. But we had to split the donation as Gracie wanted to support her favorite player Connor Tobin and I, of course, wanted to throw support to Austin.)
Why is he raising awareness for the LGBTQ community the right way you ask? Because as my Grandma Dresser always said, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with Vinegar?” He is pointing out the LGBTQ community needs equal rights under our laws and that bigotry and inequality exists still in our country especially in our home state of North Carolina and it’s HB2 Law. But he is also working to be part of the solution to the problem. He is putting his money where his mouth is. He is raising awareness and money at the same time, how many other protestors can say that?
Being a former teacher, I see equal rights as a must because it is ultimately the families that pay the price of inequality. It is hard to imagine not being able to marry the love of your life and being the legal parent to the children that you have together and not to mention the insurance laws. What a nightmare?
I asked Austin what made him start Playing for Pride and he said he was inspired by a lot of different things. He said that there were many athletes, authors, activists, friends, and family that led him to the very simple decision to try to be a small part of the solution to a bigger problem. It was very important to him to both stand in support of the LGBTQ community in the face of bigotry and discrimination and to represent our home state, NC, in a positive way in response to the stigma created by HB2.
I asked Austin what the response has been to the Playing for Pride Campaign. He said it has been completely positive. He even stated that he was overwhelmed by the wave of support he has gotten and that he has been amazed by it. He is filled with gratitude and inspired by the willingness of so many to take a stand on an issue that so many are divided on.
Just look at how much money that has been raised so far for the LGBTQ community.
And how many players have gotten involved.
When asked if he would do anything differently if he had a chance, he said that he probably just get more players involved with the campaign. He says raising money is great and very important but he thinks having more players stand up and be vocal about their support of LGBTQ community rights and equality is what ultimately makes the biggest difference to people.
There are still a few games left in the NASL season- to donate to this worthy cause. You don’t have to donate like Austin does but you can still donate in a lump sum. This is an amazing cause worthy of support. Here is the link to donate to Playing for Pride so that we all can have equal rights.