Liliana Perez serves as the Chargers Senior Director of Cultural Affairs, meaning she's focused on making sure everyone feels included and supported by the Bolts.
Perez carries that mindset in all facets of her life and was recently honored as an award recipient at the 5th Annual South Los Angeles Pride Celebration for her commitment and dedication to her community.
Perez said she was "deeply honored" to receive the award and noted the added significance that the South LA Pride Celebration is designed to emphasize people of color from diverse multi-cultural backgrounds. The festival is also aimed at being accessible to families and individuals regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Not that the recognition of Perez was a surprise to Fred Maas, the Chargers Chief of Staff and Counselor.
"We've been proud of Liliana before she got the award," Maas said. "I've known her for many years and she has always had an incredible following among a diverse constituency. It's neat to see other people recognizing it."
Perez has been hard at work in her community for more than 30 years, calling herself an "out and proud" bisexual member of the LGBTQ+ community.
She noted that she came out in quite a public manner — on an international talk show that is essentially the Latin version of Oprah — and said the initial reaction was mixed.
"Some members of my family were not accepting and distanced themselves," Perez said. "But to remain quiet and to live in the shadows and in silence was not an option for me.
"Hatred and ignorance encourages homophobia, transphobia and an irrational fear that breeds normalizing brutality," Perez added. "A celebration of Pride is to recognize those around you with simple validation and respect of saying, 'I see you, you are not alone, you belong.'"
Perez's accolade at the South LA Pride Celebration was one of multiple initiatives the Chargers are supporting this summer.
Besides the South LA Pride Celebration, the Bolts also sponsored and supported the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) Purple Lily Awards in June.
And the Chargers will be involved in the Long Beach Pride Parade for the first time in early August.
Perez and Maas said the Chargers work in the LGBTQ+ community will continue to be a key focal point for the organization going forward.
"There is a Mexican proverb, 'Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are by the company you keep,'" Perez said. "To have the Chargers support Pride demonstrates a value statement of our organization that we support inclusivity and allyship for the LGBTQ+ community.
"To stand in support of Pride is to recognize and validate to members of our staff, on and off the field. and to fans that we recognize and respect all members of our community," Perez added. "It means our organization recognizes the rich diversity of LA and Southern California. "It means our LGBTQ+ fans have a seat at the Bolt Fam table."
Maas added: "We are emblematic of the broader community in LA. But you can't make a statement about what this team has done with Pride without making a statement first about the NFL and how much they have embraced the LGBTIQA+ community and the things they've done on a national level. At the end of the day, the Chargers are representative of a fan base that is diverse, that is expansive and speaks to what the greater Los Angeles market is. This is just an offshoot of the kind of thigs we've done across many different spectrums of our local and national societies."
The LGBTQ+ community has the full support of the Chargers, and it's Perez who is leading the way.
"This is not the first honor that has been bestowed upon her and it won't be the last," Maas said. "We just continue to have enormous pride in what she does and the statement she makes about this organization. I just couldn't be happier for her."
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