Lesbians have long been the unmentioned multitude in the WNBA, a sport that prefers to target itself to families. But the L.A. Sparks are finally turning the light on that part of their fan base. The change began May 4, when Girl Bar, a lesbian dance club, held a preseason pep rally. Members lined up to meet players (but not star Lisa Leslie, who apparently had a prior engagement) and buy season tickets. The partnership will continue June 5, after the Sparks' first home game, when players will attend a cocktail party with Girl Bar members; the Sparks' June 14 game is designated "Gay Pride Kick-Off," also in connection with Girl Bar. The outreach is a far cry from 1999, when GWENN A. BALDWIN of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center paid about $16,000 to sponsor the Sparks but withdrew after the team's marketing staff objected to the words GAY AND LESBIAN FAMILIES on a billboard. While the folks in Los Angeles are receiving all the attention, the Miami Sol are scratching their heads at the fuss. The Sol team often appears at lesbian bars and is helping sponsor a gay festival in South Beach--with nary a blip on the talk-back radar.
--By Amanda Bower. With reporting by Stacie Stukin/Los Angeles