Manny Malhotra, Jason Garrison join You Can Play at Vancouver Pride parade

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.

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10 comments

  1. BeCanucks
    August 6, 2012

    I’m so proud to be a Canucks fan while seeing this! Way more positive than rioting… Good job Manny and Jason, thank you!

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  2. MelT
    August 6, 2012

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the strange rumours. From what I’ve heard, Jason Garrison has increased his attractiveness to the ladies, because he looked really hot! Everyone already loves Manny, of course.

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    Rating: +23 (from 23 votes)
    • Nee
      August 6, 2012

      To add to your thoughts…open-mindedness is very attractive in my books!

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      Rating: +18 (from 18 votes)
      • MelT
        August 6, 2012

        Definitely, like being confident in your masculinity is hot.

        Speaking of masculinity, I was watching a Jason Garrison highlight reel, and his only fight seems to have been with Manny Malhotra!

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        Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  3. Trunk Slamchest
    August 6, 2012

    Unfortunately, Manny and Jason doing this has also shown how bigoted a large part of the Canucks fanbase is. The Canucks Facebook put up pictures of them at the parade and some of the gay-bashing comments are just disgusting.

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  4. Nee
    August 6, 2012

    Too bad I can’t upvote this post…nicely written PITB!

    I was at the parade and it was great to see such high profile people supporting the parade with their presence. I came as a straight person to support an awesome parade and awesome community, and most importantly, to support someone close to me who is in the closet.

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  5. cathylu
    August 6, 2012

    You’re right – Fin has a sweet van! Good story, and as a bonus it looked like it was a beautiful day in Vancouver.

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    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  6. tj
    August 6, 2012

    Being comfortable and secure with oneself is always attractive, so it’s no surprise the fellas are getting some ‘hawt’ kudos. Welcome, Jason G!

    I’d managed to not hear about the Donnelly thing, though, and that puts some perspective on this whole thing. If I’m going to cheer for a couple of guys in the Pride parade and making a political stance in the name of what I believe in, I suppose I need to cut some slack for Donnelly, whom I nearly wrote off after reading an account of his political stance. There are differences, to be sure, between the two, but it is important to give pause when knee-jerk responding, whether it be left or right-leaning. I am uncomfortable with Donnelly’s choice to be against pro-choice, but I can’t say he doesn’t have the right to stand for what he believes in.

    I am, though, a bit cynical about the Canucks’ management’s motivations behind this support. I don’t doubt the sincerity of Manny and Jason, but I do think there’s damage control at work in the Canucks’ head office. If it weren’t for You Can Play, you’d not see the Canucks’ management’s support. Seems to me, it’s more about supporting the cause, not Pride.

    But, hey, it’s got to start somewhere.

    And now, off my own soapbox :)

    Thanks for reporting on this, PITB!

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  7. Gimmic
    August 6, 2012

    AWESOME! So proud to be a Canucks fan!
    On a side note, Fin must have been hotter than burnt toast in his costume that day.

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  8. evangie
    August 7, 2012

    I’m both incredibly proud and very disappointing to be a Canucks fan right now. I was so proud to see our team out and supporting an amazing initiative at the parade, but seeing the comments that are being posted on the photo from the parade posted on the team’s Facebook.. I am so ashamed. I’ve never seen so many people simultaneously miss the point of something entirely. They demonstrate just why initiatives like You Can Play are unfortunately still so necessary today.

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    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)