by Jim Buzinski
For a current and a former player for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, the team’s first Pride night May 30 hit close to home. Forward Corey Baird has a gay older brother, while former defender Brian Dunseth’s dad is gay.
Both men were at Rio Tinto Stadium tonight when Real Salt Lake played the Houston Dynamo on Pride night, the first such event in Utah sports history. The team beat Houston, 2–1.
“I think it’s awesome how far everyone has come in accepting this,” Baird told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The support the club has shown, other guys on the team have shown, and the MLS itself has been awesome. I love it.”
Baird is one of five Real Salt Lake players who are on the Playing for Pride team. Those players pledged to donate money to Athlete Ally based on a formula and the team will match donations up to $10,000.
Dunseth, now the team’s TV analyst, was 11 when he found out his dad is gay and how a classmate taunted him about it while playing basketball. “It was devastating,” said Dunseth, born and raised in Southern California. “Not because of what he said, but that it would be used in that context, as something that I should be disgusted by.”
He realizes the importance of Real Salt Lake hosting a pride event.
“If [Pride Night] just changes maybe for one person who’s struggling with their identity behind the scenes,” Dunseth said, “that they can look at these three teams and feel a connection — if it can positively affect just one person — I think that’s a massive positive.”
In addition to Real Salt Lake, affiliated clubs Utah Royals (June 27) of the National Women’s Soccer League and Real Monarchs (June 27) of the United Soccer League will also host Pride events.
Photo | Corey Baird