Proudly marching — together

The Olympic Games have always been an example. Superficially, the Games are demonstrative of what the human body is physically capable of achieving. The records athletes break work to answer simple questions like; How fast can a person run? How high can a person jump? But the power of sport is capable of producing much deeper results.

The Olympic Games can do far more than simply set the bar of human athletic potential. I believe that sport’s greatest obligation to society is the cultivation of an open, welcoming and inclusive environment. So it seems natural (if not overdue) that the Canadian Olympic Team is joining in Canada’s Pride celebrations this year, and hopefully forever.

A truly open, accepting and compassionate society welcomes everyone to the field of play.

Many people, myself included, publicly commended the NBA’s Jason Collins on his courage interviewing with Sports Illustrated for his ‘coming out’ article a couple months ago. However, as the news of his lifestyle made increasing headlines, many people questioned why a player’s sexual orientation matters, why it was newsworthy.

The reason a person’s sexual orientation is still worthy of discussion is due to the unfortunate reality that it takes tremendous courage to be open about these sorts of things in 2013.

I don’t think it should have to take courage.

A truly open, accepting and compassionate society welcomes everyone to the field of play. So, Jason’s article and the discussion around it are indeed necessary, but hopefully only as a means to the end of that necessity.

The goal of every Olympian is more or less the same; we all want to be winners. In my experience, being happy is an essential step toward the podium. I’m on a Canadian Olympic Team that values diversity, and as role models I think we have a responsibility to our communities to promote a strong sense of personal identity. By embracing our identities, and fostering a safe and comfortable environment for our friends and teammates in which they can be themselves, I think we all win.

Pride is a celebration of love.

It’s a statement that love isn’t something to be merely tolerated, accepted or legalized. It’s something beautiful and natural and is also probably the single most important thing in the world. Pride is about celebrating something positive, progressive, and fun.

It’s also an awesome parade, one in which this Olympian, and ally, is unbelievably proud to be marching with his teammates and neighbours right here in Toronto. Follow @vankayak.