While June is Pride Month and many cities hold their pride parades then, other cities may choose to observe pride parades at other times for whatever reason–scheduling, weather, et cetera. Vancouver’s pride parade will be on Aug. 5 and will feature some big names in the world of hockey: Manny Malhotra from the hometown Vancouver Canucks, Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Project, plus the Cutting Edges gay hockey team in the city. Oh, and Fin, the Canucks’ orca mascot.
Malhotra will be the first Canucks player to march in the parade. The idea was hatched when Burke was invited by Cutting Edges to march. Burke told the public of his plans on Twitter and the Canucks got in contact with him to see how they could get involved too. Currently, Malhotra is the only player who will be involved, but that is partly because of the timing: many of the Canucks may still be out of town for the offseason.
“When I initially heard about what they were starting, I thought it was an incredible idea, so just to be able to show my support for what they started, was really a no-brainer,” Malhotra told Xtra.ca about his decision to team up with You Can Play Project. “My feeling is that it’s the start of something, I would hope in the future it wouldn’t need to be an issue.”
This echos Burke’s view of You Can Play: it’s necessary now, but the ultimate hope is that it won’t be someday due to increased tolerance in the world of sports.
Malhotra said that his parents and his upbringing in the multicultural city of Mississauga, Ontario–near Toronto–helped influence his view of things, as does having friends who are gay. (Those friends, he added, were very excited to hear of his decision to march in the parade.)
He can sense a sea change, he knows that it is becoming less acceptable to be homophobic, but he feels there is still work to be done.
“Where perhaps in the past, it was a taboo question as far as gay people in sports — who supports and who doesn’t — I think we’re getting past that hump and moving more towards a point where it should be, which is indifference…I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” he said.
Malhotra will be the third professional hockey player to march in a pride parade this year. Tommy Wingels and Vincent LoVerde both marched in Chicago’s pride parade in June.
Many NHL players have shown support for You Can Play, including Malhotra’s teammate Ryan Kesler as well as Dustin Brown, Brooks Orpik (his ad was recently shown at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game), Shea Weber, Jordan Eberle, Zdeno Chara and more.