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This Rugby Team Has the Perfect Way to Protest a Homophobic Opponent

Israel Folau on a rugby field.

They are making their match against one another a Pride night.

MikelleStreet

The tale of Israel Folau is long. In May of last year, Folau, who was Australia's highest paid rugby player, was fired for posts on social media that equated homosexuals to "drunks, adulterers, liars, and fornicators." "Hell awaits you. Repent!" the posts said.

Rugby Australia and the North South Wales Rugby Union condemned the posts, and fired the player as they weren't his first infractions. Folau responded by suing the league and asking his fans for $3 million to help him do so.

In December, Rugby Australia decided to settle the "unfair dismissal" case for an unreleased amount. And while he may not be playing for Rugby Australia anymore, Folau is getting back into the sport: the athlete just signed a deal with the France-based Catlan Dragons of the Super League.

But just because he's been signed doesn't mean anyone is happy about it. When Folau made headlines in the past for his homophobia, other athletes have spoken out about it. Gareth Thomas, a retired player came out hard against the Dragons when the news of this signing surfaced. And now, a competiting team is doing the little they can to silently protest.

The Wigan Warriors are scheduled to play the Dragons on March 22, so for that day they've announced the celebration of "Pride Day." Yeah, you read that right.

For the occasion, Wigan Warriors players will wear rainbow socks and laces for their match and local LGBTQ+ groups will be invited to watch. They will also work with charities to further the effort.

"Here at Wigan Warriors we are committed to the core values of inclusion and respect," the executive director Kris Radlinski said in a statement. "Our community foundation have a long history of supporting local LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives, and we want everyone who engages with our game to feel welcome, valued, and most of all, respected."

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Mikelle Street

Mikelle is the former editorial director of digital for PrideMedia, guiding digital editorial and social across Out, The Advocate, Pride.com, Out Traveler, and Plus. After starting as a freelancer for Out in 2013, he joined the staff as Senior Editor working across print and digital in 2018. In early 2021 he became Out's digital director, marking a pivot to content that centered queer and trans stories and figures, exclusively. In September 2021, he was promoted to editorial director of PrideMedia. He has written cover stories on Ricky Martin, Miss Fame, Nyle DiMarco, Jeremy O. Harris, Law Roach, and Symone.

Mikelle is the former editorial director of digital for PrideMedia, guiding digital editorial and social across Out, The Advocate, Pride.com, Out Traveler, and Plus. After starting as a freelancer for Out in 2013, he joined the staff as Senior Editor working across print and digital in 2018. In early 2021 he became Out's digital director, marking a pivot to content that centered queer and trans stories and figures, exclusively. In September 2021, he was promoted to editorial director of PrideMedia. He has written cover stories on Ricky Martin, Miss Fame, Nyle DiMarco, Jeremy O. Harris, Law Roach, and Symone.