When the Pride and trans flags were raised this week at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium on St. George campus, there was no cheering audience to mark the occasion. Due to COVID-19, all public gatherings have been cancelled until further notice. But the empty stands weren’t the only thing that was different about the event this year: The Pride flag had black and brown added to its colour palette.
“The addition of the black and brown stripes serves to highlight the importance of representation and inclusion of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of colour (QTBIPOC) communities and is a sign of U of T’s commitment to being intentionally inclusive,” says David Pereira, director of U of T’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office.
“The newly added black and brown stripes are a visible symbol of the importance of including more voices and experiences in the LGBTQ2S+ community.”
The ‘More Colour; More Pride’ flag was designed in 2017 by Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, which worked with the advertising agency Tierney on an inclusivity campaign. The added black and brown stripes were meant to address issues of racism and exclusion in Philadelphia’s gay neighbourhood, but the new symbol quickly raised the attention of communities of colour globally.
“Raising the ‘More Colour; More Pride’ flag along with the Trans Flag at U of T’s Varsity Stadium is a testament to our faculty’s commitment to the LGBTQ2S+ community and our ongoing work towards greater representation and inclusion of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and people of colour,” says Robin Waley, assistant manager of co-curricular diversity and equity at U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE).
“Through U of T Sport & Rec programs like the Diversity in Motion Conference, Black Excellence Kiki Ball and Move with Pride workshop series, we provide students with intersectional learning opportunities from the diversity of experiences that exist within the LGBTQ2S+ community.”
Professor Ira Jacobs, dean of KPE, says he regrets that the U of T community wasn’t able to come together this year to celebrate the raising of the flags in person.
“I enjoyed watching it on video with the rest of our supportive community,” he says. “It was a proud reminder of our faculty’s and university’s dedication to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels, not only in research and education, but also in our broad spectrum of co-curricular physical activity and sport programs.”
Reflecting on the protests against anti-Black racism and racial violence that have swept across the United States and countries around the world, Jacobs affirmed the faculty’s solidarity with the Black community.
“I am proud to be the dean of a faculty that intentionally embeds equity, diversity and inclusion awareness within its curriculum, and within the framework of sport and recreation opportunities for all U of T students,” says Jacobs, adding the faculty recently produced its first equity report to highlight its efforts to uphold these values.
“We know that sport and recreation are not immune to racism. But we also know that sport can be a powerful platform for positive individual, social, political and collective development.
“As a faculty, we are dedicated to studying, researching and advocating for physical activity and sport, not only because they are vital to personal health, but because they are so important to societal health.”