Luke Ayling becomes first PL player to attend Pride.
Luke Ayling became the first ever current Premier League player to attend a Pride event in the UK on Sunday afternoon as he joined Marching Out Together for a special day at Leeds Pride 2022.
The club sponsored the event for a second time and ensured a real presence was felt on the day to showcase the support the club has for our LGBTQ+ supporters and the local LGBTQ+ community.
During his appearance at the event, the Leeds United defender not only took the time to walk the entire parade through the city centre, but he also engaged with those in attendance, taking photos, signing autographs, and chatting at length to find out more about Marching Out Together, its members and their stories.
The defender was also joined by former players Jermaine Beckford and Noel Whelan who also spent the afternoon taking part in the event, even making it onto the open top bus at the front of the parade.
Leeds Pride is one of the biggest free Pride events in the UK, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and bringing together allies from across the country, and there was over 70,000 people who showed up and took part on Sunday as it marked its 17th anniversary.
After almost three years without a Pride event in Leeds due to Covid restrictions, it was incredible to see members of the public line the streets in their thousands to watch the parade with fantastic numbers from our very own supporters group Marching Out Together, who work closely with the club throughout the year to ensure everyone associated with Leeds United feels comfortable to be themselves, and everyone feels welcome at Elland Road.
The rest of the Leeds United first team also sent their best wishes ahead of the event with special messages from captain Liam Cooper and Dan James.
Andrew Tilly, board member at Marching Out Together, said: “Yesterday marked a significant day in the history of football representation at UK LGBT+ Prides – the first time a Premier League footballer joined the many thousands on a Pride march. Luke Ayling, alongside Jermaine Beckford and Noel Whelan, were warmly applauded by around 70,000 people lined through Leeds city centre, celebrating Leeds Pride.
“The players were an absolute credit to the club; their presence was hugely empowering to us all. A fantastic day that we could not have envisaged when the group was formed five years ago.
“We are hugely proud to support Leeds United and grateful to the many staff throughout the club that work so hard throughout the year to promote LGBT+ inclusion. It was absolutely a perfect weekend after a brilliant win on Saturday as well. A weekend to be proud to be a Leeds United fan.”