CINCINNATI — About 20 local LGBTQ teens will get to sit with, meet and cheer for the Reds with members of Cincinnati Bell's LGBTQ employee resource group Friday during Pride Night at Great American Ball Park.
"This is just an awesome chance for them to be a part of their community and see representation out in the stands," said Isaiah Febus, life skills specialist at Lighthouse Youth Services.
June 11 is Cincinnati Reds Pride Night, which the team first celebrated in 2018. Those teens will be in attendance for free thanks to an ongoing partnership with Cincinnati Bell Pride.
"It is important, as we talked so often about the challenges LGBTQ youth face," said Michelle Hall, who helped found the employee resource group. "And just to get out and have fun and like live and exist is great."
Studies, research, and experience show LGBTQ youth are more likely to attempt suicide, experience homelessness and use illegal drugs, among other negative outcomes.
"Our biggest issue is housing right now," Febus said. "A lot of the people that come into our shelter, they don't have a community."
Some teens become homeless when they come out because of lack of family support.
"People are kicked out, they're marginalized, their families don't want to, you know, be involved with them anymore," said Hall. "As soon as we found out, that's really when we started going and educating ourselves, having Lighthouse educate our groups."
Now those teens and the Cincinnati Bell employees will spend time together in matching hats, surrounded by other members of the LGBTQ community in a ballpark section sold to support Cincinnati Pride.
Hall said helping start the employee resource group changed her as a person and as an employee. She hopes Friday's time to socialize will have a similar effect on these teens.
"To be around people who are like themselves and to celebrate their own uniqueness," Hall said. "I'm excited to meet these kids, I'm excited to thank them, I'm excited to hear their stories, I'm excited to enjoy a game with them. It's going to be a great night."
For Febus, it's personal too.
"We're celebrating these monumental moments in our lives," he said. "We take it for granted going to Cincinnati Reds games. For these young people, it's just like, 'Wow, this is a dream to me.'"
For tickets to Pride Night, call the Reds Group Ticket Dept. at 513-765-7600 or visit reds.com/pride. Tickets for the rainbow hat package are sold out, but fans can still buy seats for Friday night’s game, which includes a donation to Cincinnati Pride.