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OutSport Toronto SportZone Tackles Pride Paradox: Scores!

Downtown Swim Club swimmers show off thier swim wear and water guns in the SportZoneDowntown Swim Club swimmers show off thier swim wear and water guns in the SportZoneWhat is the Pride Paradox?  Pride is a spectacle.  It’s a passive affair with performers and a large audience.  By its nature it creates a barrier that divides the community and discourages participation.  Sport, on the other hand, is inherently active.  It demands participation.  It encourages play.

Sport faces additional barriers to LGBT participation that shadows the pride paradox.  Many of us have been excluded from participation in sport through the bullying we experienced or the messages we received growing up. How could we possibly join the team of jocks that were the same people pushing us into lockers? “Besides” they might have said, “you can’t play… you’re queer.  Do you see any queer insert-your-favourite-professional-sport- here players?” 

Sidewalk chalk encouraging passers to get involvedSidewalk chalk encouraging passers to get involvedOutSport Toronto and the member organisations it supports chose to reinvent the LGBT experience of Pride.  We wanted to create a safe space to encourage inquiry, trial… and play.  By creating an open space that was flexible and allowed our members to set up games, be active, and invite Pride’s spectators to participate, the SportZone changed the dynamic of Pride from passive to active.

The SportZone was also about building a stronger LGBTTIQQ2SA sport community as part of the OutSport Toronto mission to facilitate interaction and communication amongst sport organizations.  Weather it was footballers playing hockey, or Roller Derby girls trying precision drills, the SportZone brought the LGBT sport community together.

Frontrunners Toronto volunteers talking to passers-by about getting involvedFrontrunners Toronto volunteers talking to passers-by about getting involvedThe OutSport Toronto SportZone is about building community, reinventing the LGBTTIQQ2SA spectator experience, and creating the opportunity to Get Out…AND PLAY!  But how do I know that the SportZone was a success?  Aside from the fun everyone had, aside from the awareness that was brought to the Pride committee, aside from the CP24 interview during the parade, I know it was successful because my friend, who would never have though he could be a football player, threw a ball… and wants to play.