Soundtracked to Love Yourself by Pose star and LGBTQ+ legend Billy Porter, the video features Keighley Cougars players and their families, including Jake Webster and Dane Chisholm, dancing alongside transgender performer Melissa Alonso - one Brazil’s biggest LGBQT+ celebrities - and drag queen Marcia Pantera. Also making an appearance are Cougars co-owner Kaue Garcia and director Lisa Gill.
The club made history in 2019 for not only being the only UK professional sports team to have openly gay owners, but also for launching the annual Pride match, making them the first Rugby League team to hold an event in celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride.
The Cougars were also the first professional sports team worldwide to incorporate the Pride Progress Flag – which combines the traditional rainbow flag with the transgender flag, and also includes a black and a brown stripe to represent people of colour – on to their playing kits.
Sunday’s fun, festival style event will kick off at 1pm with a curtain raiser inviting attending children to play a friendly alongside the squad. After the 3pm match, local drag queen Harvey Rose will perform alongside LGBTQ+ singer Elliot Broadfoot.
Funds will be raised on the day for the Outright LGBTIQ Ukraine Emergency Fund, with a portion of the sales proceeds from the Cougar Pride replica shirts also being donated.
Keighley Cougars director, Ryan O’Neill, who co-owns the club alongside his husband, Kaue Garcia, said: “We’re delighted to be holding our third annual Pride match, and in particular to be launching this video in support of the transgender community. As a club, we want to challenge stereotypes and encourage love and acceptance of everyone across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but especially right now, we want to emphasise the work that still needs to be done to support our transgender brothers and sisters.
“Since we took over the club in 2019, we’ve looked forward to the Pride match, which has always been a fun, family-friendly celebration of self-love and self-acceptance. The reception from the players has always been fantastic, and – as you can see from the video – this year is no different! We’re looking forward to bringing together fans and non-fans alike to enjoy a memorable day of entertainment, with the goal of challenging preconceptions around LGBTQ+ involvement in Rugby League, holding positive conversations about Pride and everything it stands for, and advocating for the transgender community.”
Melissa Alonso, who features in the music video, said: “I was so excited to take part in this video and show Cougars fans what a proud trans woman looks like. Through performing, I was able to better understand myself and my identity, which is what makes the video a perfect tribute to encourage those who are trans or considering their gender identity to love and accept themselves, no matter where they are in their journey. I Hope that everyone who sees it will support the club and their message by sharing the video far and wide, helping to set an example for other sports clubs to follow.”
Jake Webster, the former New Zealand and Hull KR centre who joined the Cougars three years ago, added: “Since I joined the club in 2019, the Cougars’ message of acceptance and inclusion has been a part of everything they do. We hope that the video and this year’s Pride match continue to prompt discussions around promoting diversity not just within rugby league, but within all areas of sport.”
Tickets cost £15 for adults and £12 for concessions, with under 16s going free, and can be purchased on the day or via the Keighley Cougars website here.