NEW YORK/TORONTO - This June, in partnership with the You Can Play Project, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and National Hockey League (NHL) joint Hockey Is For Everyone initiative will celebrate Pride Month. All 31 NHL Clubs, alumni, and current players will participate in pride events including parades across North America. The League will be participating in 2019 WorldPride - the largest pride parade in the world - in New York City. The month will also feature original programming and storytelling.
"There's no better way to make young athletes and fans feel safe and welcome than to have their sports idols and the teams they look up to showing this kind of recognition and support. This was the original vision of You Can Play, and our partnership with the NHL and NHLPA has made that something that LGBTQ athletes and allies alike can feel good about," said Brian Kitts, You Can Play co-founder and president.
Since 2013 the NHL and NHLPA have been partners with the You Can Play Project, an advocacy organization fighting homophobia in sports, reaffirming that the official policy is one of inclusion on the ice, in the locker rooms, and in the stands. Founded in 2012 by Patrick Burke, NHL Senior Director of Player Safety, You Can Play has since generated support from more than 100 professional hockey players who have voiced their support for gay teammates. The partnership was You Can Play's first with a North American professional sports league.
Video: The Power of Pride Tape: Devils' Kurtis Gabriel
"I was raised by my mom to treat people the way you want to be treated and that means being inclusive and accepting people for who they are, because I want to be accepted, too," said Kurtis Gabriel, New Jersey Devils forward. "For me, using Pride Tape is just a small gesture that I hope will go a long way. Anyone can play the game we all love and cherish so much."
"At parades and events across North America celebrating Pride, the NHL and our partners will be participating to send a message that is clear and unequivocal - hockey is for everyone," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "We are immensely proud of the work that members of our NHL and extended hockey families do to make all feel welcome in the world's greatest game. Furthering inclusiveness is a year-round mission for the NHL and we are excited to highlight some of our efforts during this Pride Month."
The month will feature original storytelling shared on NHL.com/Pride, NHL Network, and via the NHL and NHLPA's social channels. Stories will be released throughout the month of June and include:
• Patrick and Brian Burke - the tragic loss that led to the creation of the You Can Play Project, and the hope it continues to inspire across the sports world today.
• Patrick Farabaugh - the journey of a man who fled one of the world's most violent cities to create one of the largest gay hockey organizations in the world, the Madison Gay Hockey Association.
• Kurtis Gabriel - the story of why an NHL player has committed to using Pride Tape on his stick for the rest of his hockey career, featuring Pride Tape founder Jeff McLean.
• Elliot Govaars - how 15-year old Elliot, who was playing for the Junior Sharks girls hockey team, found a support network with his teammates as he began his transition to becoming a boy, also featuring transgender activist Harrison Browne.
• Brock McGillis - the first openly gay male professional hockey player will discuss his personal triumphs and struggles with the other openly gay man in professional hockey, Dre Barone.
Fans interested in purchasing Pride Tape or rainbow branded NHL or Club merchandise can visit Shop.NHL.com. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #HockeyIsForEveryone.