The Philadelphia Flyers hosted its annual Pride Night on February 21 as part of their game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center, honoring local LGBTQ+ leaders and showing support for the community. Media personality and Philly Chit Chat Founder HughE Dillon banged the drum during the pre-game Bring the Noise ceremony, team mascot Gritty waved the Pride flag on the ice, and Philadelphia Gay News founder Mark Segal dropped the puck at the start of the game to celebrate the newspaper’s 45th anniversary.
Prior to the puck drop, Flyers players warmed up using sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. The Wells Fargo Center sported Pride flags, lights on the ice, merchandise and other Pride-themed flourishes, and the Flyers provided tickets to the game to 12 local LGBTQ organizations.
As part of its support for the LGBTQ community, Flyers Charities donated $5,000 to the You Can Play Project, an initiative that fosters safe and inclusive environments for athletes of all backgrounds, including LGBTQ people.
You Can Play ambassadors and Flyers players James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton also recently started an initiative rooted in increasing engagement in hockey in the queer community. They plan to accomplish this in part by providing four tickets to Philly-based LGBTQ organizations for 12 home games throughout the remainder of the 2021-2022 season.
Last season, the Flyers premiered their New Heights video series, which features people in the hockey scene who are working to make Philly’s hockey community more inclusive. A season one episode entitled Standing in Sight showcases Philadelphia hockey fans and players discussing their entry point into the hockey world, how it intermingles with their LGBTQ circles and how homophobia remains an issue in mainstream hockey settings.
“I know what having an accepting sporting environment can do for somebody, it’s literally life-saving,” Nora Cothren, co-chair of the You can Play Northeast Regional Board, said in the Standing in Sight video. “How can I help get folks at younger ages the environment that I had at Smith? It wasn’t until I saw the You Can Play launch video that I thought, ‘oh, my voice can actually really make a difference.’”