Bucs fans from across the state of Florida unloaded their grills, tents and Bucs tailgate gear in the parking lots surrounding Raymond James Stadium for an afternoon of pregame tailgating prior to the 4:05 kickoff against the Rams.
One tailgate in particular brought a strong turnout, overwhelming support and an NFL-first milestone to the Tampa Bay area. In the hours leading up to the game, the Buccaneers hosted the inaugural LGBT Community Tailgate Party, celebrating the day's game and the LGBT community in Tampa Bay.
Attendees at the LGBT Community Tailgate Party, sponsored by Barefoot Refresh, enjoyed live music, games, conversation and plenty of delicious barbecue fare before the game
"It is the first-ever LGBT tailgating event that the NFL has ever done," said Wade Davis, former NFL player and now Executive Director for the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. "I would say, honestly, this is a revolutionary day, because most people don't think that sports and LGBT mix and I think that the Bucs are reframing that and debunking a lot of myths around sports and LGBT individuals."
Every group ticket sold for the game and tailgate event included a donation to the You Can Play Project, dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete and seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete's skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
"This event is important because there has often been the mindset that sports and being gay don't really fit and the fact that the Bucs are taking such a leadership role on this is going to go a along way to make sure that young people in the Tampa Bay area, but also nationwide, feel safe to be involved in sports. It's really a groundbreaking event and I'm just really touched that the Buccaneers, being such a world-class organization, sees the importance of a day like this."
"We can say we have the first regular season LGBT event at an NFL game," said Bree Parker, a Group Account Executive for the Bucs. "It's exciting to me that we're at the forefront of this."