By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

Featured in our 2019 Sin City Classic issue! 

For those of you who have attended a Gay Games, you have definitely seen the representatives of the Pride Cheerleading Association (PCA). The fabulous cheerleaders, who represent cities across the U.S. and the rest of the globe have become a staple at large LGBTQ sports events.

And for those who have attended the Sin City Classic (SSC) the past couple years, you might have even noticed a few cheerleaders sneaking around the mix to spread their spirit-boosting and fundraising message. This year, however, the PCA joins in the SCC’s competitive fun, bringing with them a “Heels-Over-Head” good time.

The organization is, according to PCA secretary Sara Toogood an affiliation of adult LGBTQ-supportive charitable cheerleading teams with each member affiliate having the main goal of fundraising for local LGBTQ charities and organizations. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, member teams host events within their own cities to raise funds for local causes. And when teams travel, they raise money for causes in the cities in which they’re performing.

For this year’s SSC, the PCA “VolunCheerleaders” from multiple member teams will descend on Las Vegas not only for the opportunity to compete (the competition is actually optional for the group) but also for the opportunity to raise spirits, awareness and funds for a grassroots, Las Vegas-based LGBTQ charity, Golden Rainbow (

Golden Rainbow provides housing, education and direct financial assistance to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. Founded in 1987 at the height of the national fear and stigma of AIDS, it was members of the Las Vegas entertainment industry who saw an important need to provide housing for people with AIDS when one of their fellow performers was forced to live and eventually die in his family’s garage.

No doubt the Cheer competition at the 2019 Sin City Classic will be one you won’t want to miss. The PCA will be bringing the spirit and their thrilling moves as part of the actual SCC sports program. Cheerleading competition begins on Saturday, January 19 at the Flamingo Hotel’s Sunset Ballroom. Start time is tentatively 5:30 p.m. but check the SCC website and program for time updates.

“VolunCheerleaders” from Cheer Los Angeles, Cheer San Francisco, Cheer Seattle, Capital Cheer Elite (Sacramento), Cheer Tacoma, and maybe even some representing Cheer New York, Chicago Spirit Brigade, Cheer Salt Lake, Cheer DC, and Cheer Colorado will be competing and asking for donations for Golden Rainbow – be sure to bring some cash with you to the Sunset Ballroom!

The skills, difficulty and wow factor they display equate to the college and all-star cheerleading competitions seen on TV, with similarly high standards for safety and technical execution. The difference here is the PCA’s “Fundraising First” mentality. It’s even reflected on scoresheets; additional points can also be earned for raising money for the designated charity.

Because individual cheerleaders attend events at their own expense (flight, hotel, and other expenses), Toogood wants people to remember is that you may not see entire squads represented at the event. Participating athletes are organized into smaller groups where they can display their city’s logo or adopt a theme complete with costuming and music. The routines are … well, you’ll just have to join us at the competition to find out! (Or if you just can’t wait that long, join us for a sneak preview and some glittery PCA merch at the Registration Party on Friday at 5:00 p.m. at the Flamingo Hotel’s Sunset Ballroom.) You won’t want to miss the showdown!

Three decades later, Golden Rainbow’s programs and support are less “crisis-based” and more “an achievable dream” but are just as needed in the community. So when you see a cheerleader with a “Spirit Bucket” asking you for donations, remember – this doesn’t pay for PCA’s hotels, uniforms, training and competition expenses; it goes toward PCA’s Cheer For Life Fund and will be donated to Golden Rainbow.

Photo Credit: PCA