It’s impossible to define exactly who would be considered the first fan of New York City FC but Chance Michaels would certainly be in that conversation.
Responsible for helping to round up the first wave of supporters before the club even had a badge or a single player, Chance was the man to bring the rainbow Pride flag into Yankee Stadium for the first time.
It’s been proudly raised aloft on gamedays ever since, so ahead of Saturday’s Pride Day festivities, we caught up with him to hear his story…
The gay rights movement started with the Stonewall riots in the Village and so, for me, it’s appropriate that New York City FC is helping to move that ball a little bit forward.
This is a cause I’m really passionate about – my father was in the film business and my training was in the theater, so I’ve always worked in really inclusive spaces with a very diverse cast of colleagues around me. One of the very first plays I produced when I was right out of college, at this little storefront theater group in 1996, was advocating for gay marriage and I can say we’ve come a long way since then.
The arc of history bends towards justice but it’s so funny because my kids wouldn’t even see the need for something like this. We’ve come so far that children don’t understand why a pride event is necessary, whereas for us it’s a historical thing. That gives you hope that we’re on a good track.
When we started up the Third Rail we wanted to help create an inclusive place for all supporters – somewhere everyone was welcome. One of the first things we did leading up to those first games in 2015 was to make flags. In the first set of four flags we made, it was so important to me that the Pride flag was in that first batch.
I really wanted it to be a beacon – a symbol - to show what we are, who we are and what this city is all about. It’s an amazingly diverse and inclusive city and we really wanted NYCFC to reflect that. I’m thrilled to see that it’s gotten to the point we’re having an organized Pride Day and the club is throwing its weight behind it – it’s a powerful message.