Seattle Storm v Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky head coach James Wade talks to the team during a game against the Seattle Storm on August 15, 2021. Credit: Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Before the Chicago Sky made it anywhere near the Women’s National Basketball Association finals against the Phoenix Mercury in 2021, you could find droves of queer women sitting in the spacious stands of the Wintrust Arena supporting Chicago’s home team. With two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker, who is from Naperville, returning to Chicago to join the Sky after 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, there came a newfound excitement for what the Sky could do during the 2021 season. 

Still, the road to victory was rocky. The Sky had a seven-game winning streak and a seven-game losing streak in the 2021 season, yet one thing did not change: queer women gathering their friends—non-sports fans included—to go to home games and show support. I was surprised to receive invites to Sky basketball games, as a person who represents athletic teams purely based on my loyalty to Chicago more than any actual love for the games. But what kind of queer would I be not to show up for a team so obviously beloved by my community?

One of my favorite games was in August 2021 when the Sky faced off against the Seattle Storm. Even as I doubted that the Sky would win once we hit the third quarter and still weren’t scoring quite enough, my friends’ hopes didn’t falter—and they were right. By the fourth quarter the Sky were slightly ahead and won after going into overtime. It was a joy to be in a space with so much energy and to see Chicago’s hometown heroes persevere through a game that didn’t start in their favor. At the time, no one knew the Sky would end up being the 2021 WNBA Champions, but if you ask my friends, they’d say they’d already called it.

No matter how next season begins or ends, one thing is for sure: the girls and gays will be in the stands showing much love and support.

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Refer to the closed final ballot to see all the categories and finalists that were voted on.