York United FC unveiled on Wednesday its 2023 Pride Kit — with Somersby Cider as the front-of-shirt sponsor — which celebrates the deep-rooted influence and cultural significance of the 2SLGBTQ+ family in the city of Toronto.
In an historic move, the team will wear the kit for the club’s official Pride Game, presented by Volkswagen Canada, on Friday, June 9 against Atletico Ottawa at York Lions Stadium.
The shirt — which has been a long-term project for the Nine Stripes — is part of a wider commitment to a core value of the organization: the fostering of a genuine, inclusive community and a safe space for everybody: all united in a passion for sport.
“I’m very proud when we are able to deliver on promises that we make in the club’s mission, vision and value statements,” says Angus McNab, President/CEO & GM.
“You can hide behind various statements but visibility is crucial in getting a message across. This is us acknowledging that words aren’t enough when it comes to certain topics. The launch of our Pride jersey is our way of saying that we are an inclusive and tolerant organization, our stadium is a safe space for all and that we want everybody to join us and fall in love with the beautiful game that we all adore.”
“We are United and this club is for everyone. So come along and be part of what we are trying to build here.”
With a subtle underlay on the front that maps out the dimensions of the Yonge and Wellesley downtown core, the inspiration for the shirt comes from the idea of solidarity, strength and spirit: crucial pillars of any group. Subsequently, the design pays homage to Toronto’s Gay Village and the rich tapestry it evokes: the colour and the character, but also the doggedness and determination. It has been – for so long – a welcoming, understanding and tolerant place, even in the face of widespread attack, condemnation and ridicule. Despite the setbacks, despite the vitriolic abuse and violence, it has remained steadfastly and unashamedly itself: its own special creation.
“This is one of the most rapidly-changing neighbourhoods in all of Canada,” says local historian Adam Wynne.
“Almost every single block has at least one redevelopment happening. But it’s very important to acknowledge both the history of the space and the importance of 2SLGBTQ+ voices.”
Over the next number of weeks and months, York United FC will provide a platform for many of these voices. The club is committed to amplifying the crucial roles and hugely impactful work routinely carried out by various organizations.
York United will delve into the incredible, wide-ranging treasure trove at The ArQuives, which acquires, preserves and secures a litany of materials pertaining to the compelling history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community right across the country. From the basement at the Red Lion Room to the main stage with legendary artist Jackie Shane, they’ll go into detail on some extraordinary, illuminating and tragic stories.
They’ll spend time with the proud members of Downtown Soccer Toronto, the city’s official 2SLGBTQA+ recreational soccer league and learn more about their personal journeys, the importance of safe space and the power of community.
They’ll also take our supporters on a tour of the Gay Village and the notable addresses and locations where so much history was made, including the celebrated and iconic Glad Day Bookstore and The 519.
It was in the early 1970s when a dedicated local group intervened in the planned demolition of the building at 519 Church Street. Ever since the middle of the decade, it has served as the hub of the community and blossomed into a multi-purpose space that provides much-needed support, services and initiatives.
The Pride Game on June 9th at York Lions Stadium is presented by Volkswagen Canada and they have proudly committed to making a donation from every ticket sold to The 519.
“Sports have provided a route to connection and community for many 2SLGBTQ+ communities,” says Aniska Ali, Director of Philanthropy.
“In the face of hateful rhetoric against 2SLGBTQ+, particularly in sports, it is critical that our allies rise up in support of 2SLGBTQ+ people. We are also thankful for the generous donation of Volkswagen Canada and York United FC who are helping to support the year-round programs at The 519 supporting 2SLGBTQ+ futures.”