June 29, 2020
Natasha Cloud featured in Philadelphia 76ers’ Pride photo series
“I’m proud of who I am every single day,” Cloud said in the accompanying interview
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Natasha Cloud displays Philadelphia’s 8-stripe pride flag, which was designed to promote inclusion of people of color in the LGBTQ+ community. Photo credit: Philadelphia 76ers
Washington Mystics guard and Philadelphia native Natasha Cloud is featured in a photo series and interview, released on June 27 by the Philadelphia 76ers, that highlights Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community as part of the 76ers’ virtual Philly PrideDay Parade.
“I’m proud of who I am every single day,” Cloud said in the interview. “Pride to me is loving yourself, being proud of who you are, what you are, what your morals are, and what your values are.”
She added, “Even before I came out [as bisexual], I was always at Pride Parades because it was important for me to support. Love is love no matter what it looks like. That’s something my family has always taught me, something that I’ve always made sure to instill in how I approach everyday life. … there’s always going to be haters. There are always going to be people who will question you and who you are. But you surround yourself with good people and drown out the rest of the noise.”
The photo series focuses on people of color, including Cloud, and people who are transgender. The other people featured in the series include:
Deja Lynn Alvarez, a transgender woman of color who works for the Philadelphia Department of Health and organized an initiative to feed undocumented immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic;
Cloud is the only female athlete highlighted in the 76ers’ Pride photo series. Photo credit: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers’ virtual parade on June 28 looked back at the 2019 Philly PrideDay Parade & Festival and the team’s Pride Night during the 2019-20 season. It also featured an interview with former NBA player Jason Collins, who in 2013 became the first active, openly gay player in the NBA, NHL, NFL, or MLB.
Cloud has been in the news a lot lately for her commitment to social justice: she helped lead a march through Washington, DC, on Juneteenth to honor people who have been killed by police and announced a few days later that she would sit out the 2020 WNBA season to advocate for social reform. “I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball,” she explained.
But Cloud has been outspoken about issues such as gun violence and inequality throughout her WNBA career, earning the league’s Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award last summer for her work with underprivileged children and families. Cloud has also been open about her relationship with professional softball player Aleshia Ocasio, who, like Cloud, identifies as bisexual.
“It took me getting to the WNBA and being surrounded by a bunch of powerful, independent and supportive women to really fall into who I was and be confident in who I was, not only as a mixed-race kid but also a bisexual woman,” Cloud told the Delaware County Daily Times late last year. “… When you’re able to be comfortable in your own skin and understand who you are and what you stand for, it makes it easy to speak up for what you believe in.”
Combined with her success on the court, Cloud’s confidence and willingness to speak out earned her a contract with the shoe company Converse. She was featured in the brand’s Pro Leather campaign just a few weeks after the Mystics won the 2019 WNBA championship last October and signed a contract on Christmas Day. The deal was announced earlier this month, making Cloud the first female basketball player to sign with Converse. In a statement, Converse highlighted Cloud’s advocacy efforts, including for the LGBTQ+ community:
Cloud is known for extending her influence through leadership efforts that place emphasis on being a voice for the voiceless, specifically using her platform to speak out against the racial injustices that are killing Black people in America, while also advocating for equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community and working to guide youth in her communities …
As with all members of the Converse family, our goal is to serve as a both a canvas for their creative vision and to spark progress in their communities. We look forward to amplifying her voice for the causes she believes in and will keep you updated on our community efforts following our recent commitment.
Cloud wrote on Instagram that she was “Beyond humbled and blessed to be apart [sic] of a family that embraces every facet of ME.”
The news reverberated around the world, even drawing the attention of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She tweeted, “Congratulations to @T_Cloud4 and to @Converse for leading by example and reminding us that outspoken integrity is a strength everyone should want on their team.”
In May, Cloud participated in another event hosted by the 76ers, the Virtual Girls Summit, with fellow WNBA players Kahleah Copper and Maggie Lucas. Cloud told The Next, “I love that I was able to do that with the Sixers. Obviously, everyone knows Philly’s so important to me. I’m a DC loyal fan, but my heart resides in Philly, so I’m a Sixers fan through and through.”
Over the past few months, many more people have likely become Natasha Cloud fans, too, as they learn about her community service and her dedication to social justice. That gives Cloud a bigger platform to effect change. But Cloud also appreciates the victories that come on a smaller scale. “Being open and out about being bisexual can change the perspective of the life of one other person. That’s a win,” she said in the 76ers interview.
She closed the interview by sharing her advice for LGBTQ+ youth: “Understand that you are not alone. There are countless people out here that will love and support you … Most importantly, just love yourself. You are perfect in every sense of who you truly are. Embrace that in every facet.”
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. (She also writes the "Family Rivalries" series for The Next.) Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats and FanSided.