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June is an exciting month. There’s Stanley Cup final hockey on the TV, the sun is shining down on Seattle, I hit the links on Father’s Day, and it's Pride month—a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. In our house, June is a busy month, but nothing gets celebrated harder than Pride.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of playing in the Seattle Pride Classic at the Kraken Community Iceplex. The invitation to share the ice with LGBTQ+ players from all over is an honor I don’t take lightly. Striking up a conversation on the bench between shifts, I turned to the player next to me. “Nice tape job. Canucks fan?” I said, noting the different colors of tape spiraling down the blade. “No, these colors represent one of the queer flags,” they said.

The bad news is I felt like an idiot. The good news is, I’ll always recognize that flag. Trying means stumbling, losing the puck, shooting wide (pick your analogy), but I’ve never been too proud to admit I caused the turnover and apologize. And we both laughed because sometimes falling on your ass is funny.

From ice to asphalt, the Pride celebration continues as my family and I will be at the 50th annual Seattle Pride Parade on June 30. As someone who is known for their flair for flashy game-day suits, it should not come as a surprise that I love an excuse to get dressed up. Throw in good music and free swag and you’ll understand why I don’t miss a pride parade.

And no one does pride quite like Seattle. It’s no wonder the Kraken pull up to the parade every year with a crew so deep I momentarily worry we’re going to hold up the parade. We’re out there flinging Kraken giveaways like someone is keeping score of how many each employee can hand out—I always aim for the high score.

Of course, being an ally isn't just flinging Kraken patches into a crowd or embarrassingly mistaking flag colors for rival team branding. A lot of it is just showing up.

I show up for my queer wife so she knows I support her even if I still don’t understand what “Brat summer” means. I show up for my kids so they know I love their authentic selves no matter what. I show up for my friends so they know they’re safe with me. I show up because there are LGBTQ+ people out there who are being stood up by the ones they love, by policies, by corporations, by strangers.

People always praise me for being an ally, but having been on the receiving end of bigotry, I know how much easier it is to stand on this side. When I fight for BIPOC equality, I am always lifted by the voices and support of the LGBTQ+ community. Every single time, they have supported me in my fight to help end racism in hockey.

They have been incredible teammates to me and so being one to them was never a choice I made, it was just something I did—and will continue to do with whatever platform I’m given. Everyone deserves the safety and support to live their authentic lives. When we lift up those who need us most, we all reap the benefits of a safer and more inclusive space.

This Pride month, I’d like to encourage others to show up—unabashedly loud and proud—for yourself and for others. Have a happy, safe, and fun Pride!

JT Brown

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