UMass will celebrate Pride Day against Liberty on October 8

Athletic department will continue holding pride celebrations every year

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian+

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin , Sports Editor

The University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts football team will celebrate Pride Day on Oct. 8, when Liberty University travels to Amherst.

It’s the first time that UMass football holds an official Pride Day celebration, but the University made it clear: it won’t be the last. And the opponent, UMass claims, does not play a factor.

Jeff Smith, deputy athletic director for external operations, highlighted the inclusive efforts made by athletic director Ryan Bamford since his arrival at the University in 2015. Smith explained diversity and inclusion, such as raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community on campus, has always been part of Bamford’s work on campus.

The game on Oct. 8 will be in partnership with the Stonewall Center, UMass’ LGBTQ+ resource center. The athletic department worked closely with Stonewall in the past for programming and educational resources for student athletes at the University.

The Pride Day game will become an annual event, and Smith explained that the hope is other UMass teams continue to incorporate a Pride Day celebration into their schedule, expanding the tradition beyond football.

“This is about inclusivity,” Smith said. “It’s not about us, this is about using our platform in terms of educating and advocating.”

In June, LGBTQ Nation reported that in Nov. 2021, The Liberty Way — Liberty’s official Student Honor Code — was “quietly” updated to “actively discriminate against students who are members of the LGBTQ community.”

Following Sept. 18’s announcement of the Pride day celebration, UMass faced the immediate assumption that it was directly related to welcoming Liberty to campus. The athletic department said that last spring, when looking at the open home games available, Pride Day just happened to fall on Oct. 8. Homecoming, Military Day and Family Weekend claim the remaining home game slots.

Smith hopes that the timing bodes well for students on campus, given it is still early in the season when attendance at McGuirk Alumni Stadium may still be high. While the educational efforts are directly tied to UMass and the football program, Smith acknowledges what this brings to the local community as well.

“It is a place where we have the most fans, the biggest area where we can spotlight and advocate for, educate in terms of using this platform,” Smith says. “Not just about the UMass community, the surrounding community as well, looking forward to celebrating the entire community on that day as well.”

As far as Oct. 8 goes, the video messages displayed are the main source of communication for Pride Day conversations throughout the games. The announcement on Twitter revealed that a ticket package includes a pride flagged UMass hat. Pride Day was added to the schedule in combination with previously scheduled Band Day, which will remain part of the afternoons off field celebrations.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.