Toronto FC have announced they will hold their first ‘Pride Night’ at BMO Field when the New England Revolution visit on June 23. The Reds will donate $5 from each ticket bought through their official channels using the promo code ‘YOUCANPLAY’ to the You Can Play Project, which supports LGBTQ athletes.
TFC usually have a presence in the annual Pride Toronto parade (though they didn’t last year, I am told) but this is the first time they have put on their own event dedicated to the cause. This year’s parade will take place on the Sunday (June 25) after the Reds’ Pride Night, beginning at Bloor & Church and ending at Yonge-Dundas Square.
The first 100 fans to purchase tickets using the above promo code will bag themselves a pride scarf, and they will also be available to buy in the stadium at a You Can Play booth on the night.
You Can Play was formed by Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman following the death of Patrick’s brother Brendan, who had come out as gay and spoken out against homophobia in sports while playing for the Miami University hockey team. Patrick and Brendan’s father is Brian Burke, who was the president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs when Brendan was killed in a car crash in February 2010.
A number of athletes and teams expressed their support for the campaign by recording ‘You Can Play’ videos and the project has since partnered with MLS, the NHL and numerous other leagues to promote “equality, respect and safety for all athletes”. Back in 2012, TFC recorded their own video.
Pride Night at BMO Field will also see Pride flags lead the teams out on to the pitch and be displayed in the stadium’s south end. I’m sure we will see the return of Michael Bradley’s rainbow captain’s armband, too, but whether or not TFC adopt the USA’s awesome shirt numbering remains to be seen.