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El Paso Locomotive star calls for equality and inclusion during pride month

EL PASO, Texas -- Matt Bahner is using his platform as an El Paso Locomotive star and making his voice count by Playing for Pride throughout the month of June.

Bahner joined the Playing for Pride initiative in 2018 and has continued his efforts across three different clubs every pride month since.

"I think we made some strides, upwards into 2022 but also at the same time I think now it looks like we could be going backwards, there's a lot of hate in the world," the Locomotive defender said. "Me as a player using my platform as best I can to show support, give a safe space, be an ally for people of that community to feel safe and feel like they have a place in this world."  

It's an issue Bahner says is very important to him - his older brother is part of the LGBTQI+ community. He told ABC-7 that he uses Playing for Pride as a way to be an ally to not only his brother but the entire LGBTQI+ community.

"He's always said that I've been one of his biggest supports which for me is huge," Bahner said. "As we were growing up, you know I wouldn't say it was an obvious thing for me, but at the end of the day, he's my brother; I don't really look at him as anything different I look at him as my older brother, I love him, just as I would otherwise." 

Playing for Pride was started in 2017 by pro soccer player Austin da Luz. He wanted it to be a way for professional athletes to show their support for the LGBTQI+ community. Since its inception, leagues and players across the world have embraced the movement.

Between the USL Championship and League One, 13 coaches and players, including Matt, are Playing for Pride. There are also 26 supporter groups getting in on the campaign while other players like locomotive defender Yuma are showing their support by donning a pride-themed captain's band.

"It'd be great to get to a point where we didn't have to do that, and it would be commonplace and not something that is really controversial or anything like that, but until we get to that point, for me, it's about bringing awareness and showing support," Bahner said.

For every Locomotive game in the month of June, Matt will be donating $10, he'll also add another $5 on for every clean sheet they get and double the total if they win.

If you want to join Matt in his efforts, you can donate here. The El Paso Locomotive FC will be donating to Matt's campaign.

You can catch Matt Playing for Pride on Saturday when the El Paso Locomotive (6) faces off against Phoenix Rising FC (5) at 8.30 p.m. MT.

Rachel Phillips

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