As the world seems to be taking a very strange turn away from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the 2SLGBTQ+ community and other marginalised people in the last few months, Pride 2023 has been a real eye opener into the meaning of allyship and the importance of Pride month.
This year most brands threw on the good ole Rainbow flag everywhere but some dropped it at the first sign of pressure or opposition from the anti-2SLGBTQ mob. However, Rugby Canada, Rugby Ontario, the Toronto Arrows and Gilbert Canada, reinforced their position of “Rugby For All!”. This year, there was a genuine amplification of queer players and queer teams positioning the ways that diversity contributes to the sport. This wasn’t just one off either, there has been a concerted effort by the rugby community in Canada to be engaged with 2SLGBTQ+ stakeholders to bridge the gaps they see when critiqued as opposed to the “Rainbow Washing” we’ve seen and felt in 2023.
There wasn’t a sudden rush to do it because of Pride Month, it was simply part of the modus oprandi of building the game plan that is implemented year round. That’s the special sauce really, leading the charge with equity and inclusion for all while celebrating diversity along the way.
Pride month for me and the Rainbow Griffins was a reminder that the 2SLGBTQ+ community here in Canada has advocates and allies who will stand with us in the sport and on a whole. We are supported by organisations who will apologise if they get something wrong, and engage us to find ways to do better. Who will wear the Rainbow with pride and defend inclusivity because it is the right thing to do and not the commercial thing to do. It was an affirmation, not a capitalisation - and that gives me great hope for the future of the sport.
As we reflect on the meaning and mission of Pride, a celebration of queer identity and history, the protest of injustices faced by the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and the demand for equality, we can acknowledge that there is still more work to be done, especially on the global stage, but I can safely say that rugby in Canada is living the mission and leading the way.
The best part is that this engagement goes beyond Pride month, this blog is proof of that. Also, as someone who sits on the intersectionality of queer, black, and immigrant, it is refreshing to see governing bodies and commercial enterprises in the sport truly engage all marginalised groups to build the sport.
About The Author
Ian Royer has been involved in Canadian rugby for over 5 years and is the co-founder of the Rainbow Griffins Rugby Football Club, which is Canada’s first 2SLGBTQ+ club to cater to juniors 13+ and seniors. He is also the current secretary of the Rugby Ontario Board, an assistant coach and aspiring referee. Outside of rugby he is a communications practitioner. You can find out more about the Rainbow Griffins on their website www.rainbowgriffinsrfc.ca or on instagram @rainbowgriffinsrfc
Pride 2023 Parade with: Myles Spencer, CEO - Rugby Ontario, Tim Matthews, General Manager - Toronto Arrows and Ian Royer, Co-Founder - Rainbow Griffins RFC
Pride Toronto 2023 Parade with Geoff, Claudio Pagliaroli, and David Cameron.
The Rainbow Griffins post the 2023 Pride Parade. Photo Credit: Paige Stewart @pajfish
Rainbow Griffins 2023 Pride Picnic. Photo Credit Mathieu Taillardas @mattlxb