On Sunday, June 29, Toronto FC’s Jeremy Hall and Andrew Wiedeman walked approximately two and a half kilometers through the downtown core of Toronto. The weather was particularly beautiful with hardly a cloud in the sky for the walk from Bloor and Ted Rogers Way to Yonge and Dundas Square. One couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day in the city for the 2014 World Pride Parade.
Hall and Wiedeman were proud to walk with LGBTQ organization You Can Play, whose mission is to ensure quality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. The Toronto FC players were joined by Troy Bodie of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment employees, members of the Canadian Olympic team, players from the Toronto Furies as well as Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames.
“I was really excited to be a part of the parade. I fully support the concept of You Can Play and I think that it's important that people advocate for their cause,” said Wiedeman. “I have some close friends who are gay so it's nice to be able to show my support for them as well as others.”
Pride Toronto exists to celebrate the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited, Allies communities. Each year, Pride Toronto, a not-for-profit organization, hosts Pride Week. Toronto’s Pride Week is one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, with an estimated attendance of over 1.2 million people. This year, Toronto was selected to host World Pride, an opportunity for a link to be made between local and global movements.
Walking in the Pride Parade is an experience that cannot be duplicated. Water from toy guns, glitter and above all, affection and gratitude rained on athletes and representatives as they made their way through the city. With people watching and cheering from the street, windows and rooftops, it was next to impossible to do anything but smile during the parade. The influence and support of professional, world-renown Canadian and American athletes was widely recognized as a huge success for the parade and for You Can Play.
“As athletes we have been fortunate enough to find ourselves in a position of influence. It's important that we participate within the community so that we can advocate for strong causes and draw more attention to them. Also the community gives so much to us. They support us week in and week out, through wins and losses. So the least we can do is attempt to reciprocate the support by taking part in and embracing these functions and activities going on around Toronto,” said Wiedeman. “We're nothing without the community so it's important that we show our gratitude and return the support.”
When the parade reached its end at Yonge and Dundas Square, over 100 athletes from different sports, countries and teams gathered together for a final group photo to celebrate taking part in a memorable and incredible initiative for a groundbreaking organization.
Photographer: David Jackson/Canadian Olympic Committee
To find out more about You Can Play, please visit http://youcanplayproject.org
To find out more about World Pride, please visit http://worldpridetoronto.com