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Angel City FC’s Ali Riley on Pride Month: A time to fight but also to celebrate

The captain and ally is prepared to stand up for all.

NJ/NY Gotham FC v Angel City FC Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I think most of us like to think of the times we live in as gradually getting better for all over time, but history has shown that’s not universally true.

That may be a heavy thought, but as Pride Month rolls around in 2022, a backlash has come roaring alongside it among some members of society.

As Angel City FC host their first Pride Night game on Tuesday at The Banc against the Houston Dash, the importance of recognizing and celebrating LGBTQ+ members of the community is as essential as ever.

Angel City captain Ali Riley was asked during media availability last week what Pride means to her.

“I think you know, with months like this, it’s important not to make it like we only care about certain issues for a month and let it go,” Riley told reporters. “Obviously, we just had [Asian American and Pacific Islander] Heritage Month which is very near and dear to my heart. But for me, I’m still learning and trying to be the best ally possible.”

While Riley identifies as an ally, she recognizes that renewed calls to strip LGBTQ+ people of their civil and human rights is unacceptable.

“I’ve had the most incredible teammates who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, including Ash[lyn Harris] and Ali [Krieger] last year having adopted their baby, and when I look at my friends and teammates and think that they wouldn’t be treated or have the same opportunities as I would it makes me so angry,” Riley said.

A current issue is many states working to codify discrimination against trans students, particularly trans girls, who want to play youth sports.

“And particularly with trans kids and sports, that’s something that again, I look at what sport has done for me in my life and to think that little kids, trans or not, not being able to play sports, it really breaks my heart. So I hope that this month can be a way while we have the attention of the country, of the sporting bodies that to give that extra highlight to some of these issues that are so important but again, it’s not just about this month,” Riley said.

As a result of the retrenchment of efforts to discriminate against people who identify as LGBTQ+, Riley called for Pride Month to be an occasion to both honor the community but work hard to defeat the discrimination efforts.

“I think it’s just going to be not just a time to work and push around important issues, but also a time for celebration, and celebrating and highlighting some of the amazing women particularly on our team in our sport in the league, who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and that includes especially in Angel City, our amazing supporter groups, our amazing fans,” Riley explained. “And I hope that it can be that balance of a time to really fight but also to celebrate.”

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