The Canucks have had a very conservative 2012, and I don’t mean in terms of their transaction history. Between Passion Vancouver praying over Daniel Sedin’s helmet, David Booth bringing that blueberry-hogging bear to justice, and Mark Donnelly singing at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan, the team has been aligned with some very right-wing ideals over the last few months.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of these ideals (and frankly, praying shouldn’t be considered right-wing, although it is, thanks to bad politics). But they’re often associated, fairly or unfairly, with some uninclusive ways of thinking, and the Canucks organization has always strived to be as inclusive and embracing of the community as possible.
The presence of Manny Malhotra, Jason Garrison, and mascot Fin alongside the Vancouver Cutting Edge and You Can Play at Vancouver’s 34th annual Pride Parade was a great way to remind people of this.
Of course, maybe there’s no public relations element in play at all here. It’s not like one needs an ulterior motive to support the You Can Play project and stand up for equal rights.
Nor does it seem the players were forced into it. Judging from Manny Malhotra’s quote in the original press release, he didn’t take convincing. “I’m thrilled to be able to show my support for You Can Play,” he said. “It’s paramount that equality in sport, and beyond, becomes the norm. Everybody has the right to play the game they love. I am excited to share this message of equality and show my support this Sunday.”
That he did. Here’s Malhotra and Garrison with @GayCanuck.
Also at the event, if you’re interested: Jenna Tackalova, and gay, off-brand, newlywed Bert and Ernie.
I won’t get all soapbox-y here, but I feel it necessary to point out that Malhotra and Garrison did more than just walk down a street. I told a guy recently that the two would be walking in the Pride parade and his kneejerk response was an uncomfortable, disappointed, “I didn’t know they were gay.”
Truth is, the Pride parade isn’t about flamboyantly announcing one’s homosexuality (although that happens). It’s about reminding people that it’s okay to be who you are without worrying what people will think of you for doing so. As athletes, what Garrison and Malhotra did took guts. They could be dogged by strange rumours for a long time as a result, and they didn’t care.
The best part is that this wasn’t simply Malhotra or Garrison deciding to take up a pet project. This was an organizational mandate, with two Canucks more than willing to walk in the parade, and the team willing to send their mascot (and his sweet van) along to solidify the committed organizational statement.
Let’s put into perspective how strange what happened Sunday really was: just four professional athletes marched in Pride events this year; two of them are pictured above.
Some embarrassing things may have happened in downtown Vancouver over the last few years, but the unprecedented support for the gay community and the stand taken for equal rights on Robson Street was not one of them.Tags: community manny, Fin, Jason Garrison, Manny Malhotra, you can play