Leeds United defender Luke Ayling set to make history with appearance at Leeds Pride

Leeds United full-back Luke Ayling will become the first active Premier League to attend a Pride event when he marches through Leeds on Sunday.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 10:58 am

The 30-year-old will miss out on the Whites’ Premier League opener against Wolves at Elland Road on Saturday as he recovers from surgery for a knee issue.

But come Sunday afternoon, Ayling will be in amongst Leeds fans as he joins Marching Out Together, the club’s LGBT+ supporters’ group, on a march through the city centre for Leeds Pride.

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The annual event returns for its 17th edition this summer after the pandemic prevented Pride from taking place in the last two years.

In a celebration of diversity in sexuality and gender, Pride encompasses the spirit of protest and party, with the parade the weekend’s centre-piece.

Beginning in Millennium Square, the parade will snake through Cookridge Street, The Headrow, Vicar Lane, Kirkgate, York Street, Duke Street, Kirkgate, High Court, The Calls and Call Lane before ending on Lower Briggate.

Ayling will be joined on the route by Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear and former Whites stars Jermaine Beckford and Noel Whelan.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Luke Ayling of Leeds United reacts in the warm up ahead of the Premier League match between Leeds United and Burnley at Elland Road on January 02, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Huge progress has been made for the LGBT+ community in football in the past year, as A-League star Josh Cavallo became the first top flight footballer to come out before Blackpool striker Jake Daniels became the only professional footballer in the UK to be publicly gay.

On Sunday, Ayling will make history by becoming the first Premier League football player to attend a Pride event, with Leeds United proudly supporting the Leeds event as premium sponsors.

Kinnear, who is set to attend his first Pride on Sunday, said: “The Leeds United players and directors all send their best wishes to Marching Out Together and everyone associated with Leeds Pride. We do hope fans will come along and join us or watch the Parade pass through the city – it is a great opportunity to show our support to the LGBT+ community.

“Everyone will be meeting at 1.30pm, as the parade assembles on Cookridge Street and Portland Crescent. Please look out for the Leeds United shirts and the Marching Out Together flags!”

Leeds Pride 2019.

Marching Out Together chair Stephen Wignall said: “This Sunday sees Leeds Pride return for the first time in three years and I cannot wait. For the second time in their history, Leeds United are a premium sponsor of the event.

“The importance of having Leeds United sponsor the event is massive – a powerful visible statement showing Leeds United not only welcome everyone at Elland Road, but want to be seen to support the wider local LGBT+ community.

“We can’t wait to see everyone at the march on Sunday. Please do come along, bring your friends and family, have a fun day and be a part of Pride history with Luke Ayling and former stars.”

Whites skipper Liam Cooper also showed his support for the event: “I am proud to captain a club that not only supports Leeds Pride, but also works throughout the year with Marching Out Together, to make sure that everybody at Elland Road feels welcome.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: Former Leeds United player Jermaine Beckford is interviewed before the match during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Leeds United at London Stadium on January 09, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

United winger Dan James added: “Happy Leeds Pride to everyone at Marching Out Together and to all our fans in the LGBT community, from all of us here at Leeds United.”