Nike returns with a short film featuring several larger-than-life LGBTQ+ athletes for its BeTrue campaign during Pride month.
The film is a call to encourage athletes who dare to compete, whether or not they are on a level playing field with the other athletes in their sport. Professional athletes like WNBA star Sue Bird probably know a thing or two about the ways women are treated on and off the court, versus their male counterparts.
“For female athletes in a league that’s trying to grow in the U.S., the ‘rules’ we’re following are geared toward men,” Bird of the Seattle Storm, told Out on Wednesday. “So that might be the WNBA versus the NBA, and some of the ways they view us, or the standards they want to have. Things have always been done a certain way, and it’s never been thoughtful for different groups of people, so how can you succeed in that world?”
Triathlete Chris Mosier, who has been competing and coaching others while out for 2012, both appears in and narrates the ad. In it he says, “None of us can truly win until the rules are the same for everyone,” over striking footage of South African track athlete Caster Semenya, who is embroiled in her own battle with the IAAF over the hormone levels her body naturally creates. While he might be reading copy, he says that the script easily lined up with his own beliefs.
“I think generally speaking what we’re talking about here is that discrimination shouldn’t be happening in sports or anywhere else in the world,” Mosier told Out. “For me what this means is talking specifically about Caster Semenya. She’s being targeted for specific reasons and it’s unfair. That’s my personal feeling and what that line invokes for me. Changing the rules to keep people out of a sport. Nike always says if you have a body, you’re an athlete, and I truly believe that.”
The company’s BeTrue campaign has been around since 2012, both to provide Pride-related gear and $3.6 million in support to several LGBTQ+ related organizations and nonprofits. This year Nike has partnered with the estate of Gilbert Baker, the political activist who claimed the rainbow for LGBTQ+ people by creating the Pride flag. Baker sewed the flag as a symbol for gay joy, positivity, and unity in 1978. Four decades later, the flag is featured on this year’s line of Be True products, alongside Baker’s signature.
This year Nike is also granting financial support to 20 LGBTQ+ organizations, including the GLBT Historical Society, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the National Gay Basketball Association, and You Can Play.