Pull for Pride
VC partner MODS (Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports) is running its first ever tournament in support and celebration of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Pull for Pride. We spoke to board member Charlotte Thrift about the tournament.
Tell us about the event and why MODS wanted to create an annual Pride tournament?
This is a one-day tournament for the 2SLGBTQ+ community and allies, with a focus on community building and fun – creating a space for people who have not been comfortable being themselves in sport to participate as their whole selves (both new and existing players). It is also a fundraiser for Rainbow Resource Centre – the longest continuously running 2SLGBTQ+ resource centre in North America.
MODS’ vision is to have a spirited and inclusive disc sports community in Manitoba. To get there, we need to go beyond values statements and policies, and start actually demonstrating the spirit of inclusion by working with the 2SLGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented communities. This tournament is a first step in that direction.
How has the response been from the players and the MODS community?
I have heard nothing but positive things and was surprised by how many people are keen to be involved (as volunteers)! We have had several groups express interest in working with us in planning the event.
Have you been faced with any challenges while planning Pull for Pride? Any “wins”?
One of our goals is to build community, and planning this tournament has been amazing for that – we have built connections and relationships with other organizations and volunteers in both the 2SLGBTQ+ and the ultimate community. We have also received funding from Ultimate Canada, Pride Winnipeg, and Sport Manitoba.
One of the challenges that comes with that is that different folks have different ideas about what this tournament should be, and it is impossible to be everything to everyone. For instance, should this event be restricted to folks within the 2SLGBTQ+ community, or are allies welcome as well? I’ve heard very different opinions on what we should do.
Another challenge is around timing - we had originally scheduled the tournament for during the Pride festival in early June, but everyone has Pride events during the Pride festival - there are a lot of competing events. There are other disc-sport related events as well at that time of year, and we heard a lot of disappointment from folks who had other events going on at the same time. Moving the tournament to September helps spread Pride events throughout the year, which is helpful – we need more Pride events throughout the year.
Have you been able to connect with any other local Pride-focused groups and organizations?
Why do you think it’s important to have Pride-focused events supported by the league? What would you personally hope to achieve with this event?
The 2SLGBTQ+ community is underrepresented in sports, and this event is a way to help address (in a small way) the underlying issues. I suspect most folks reading this would agree that sports are important to their wellbeing. I play ultimate because it is fun and it gets me moving. I like the people I play with and against, I like the community, and sense of belonging (to my teams, to the community). I like the challenges that ultimate creates for me – both team challenge as well as competing against others in one-on-one matchups (e.g., I love that I got a hand block on SL earlier this year). And I live for individual growth - pulling off something I couldn’t do a year ago. Playing ultimate makes me feel good, and I think most folks who play sport can relate. Nobody should be excluded from that! And yet, again, the 2SLGBTQ+ community is underrepresented in sports. Why? They don't feel safe, and they don't feel like they belong.
And yet, again, the 2SLGBTQ+ community is underrepresented in sports. Why? They don't feel safe, and they don't feel like they belong.
Even where 2SLGBTQ+ folks do play sports, many are not ‘out to everyone’ on their team because those who do come out are more likely to be the target of homophobia/transphobia. There are open debates in the media and online about the rights of transgender people to participate in sports, making transgender and gender non-conforming people feel unwelcome. I feel this personally because I very seriously considered dropping ultimate to avoid facing potential rejection. I want it to be clear to anyone that they are welcome in our sport. I want this tournament to be a space where anyone can come play and have fun as they are, without judgment.
I also want to build community. Everyone plans Pride events in June, but we need Pride year-round because Pride is not just a celebration of being and of how far we have come — it is also about community building, a chance to connect with other queer folks, and we can't do that just once a year. [Pride is also about advocacy, activism, and protest, and these also cannot be done only once per year — there is a constant need to be vigilant for our rights. ]
VC Sidebar: We get asked all the time, “what can teams do to be more inclusive?”...
Our answer is generally to ask a similar line of questions back, “What do you think you and your team can do to be more inclusive? Are you doing it? Could you do it better? What’s stopping you?”… with that preface hopefully getting our readers to think and do some work around this first...
Do you have any tips for league teams across Canada?
There are so many aspects to diversity - I think it comes down to embracing diversity, respecting others, and being accommodating. Folks need to see themselves (their whole selves) as belonging on the team. If anyone on the team is focusing on identities in a negative way (e.g., using offensive language, telling “jokes”), folks will not feel safe - even if there is no specific ‘target’. A lot of 2SLGBTQ+ people playing sports aren’t out to anyone in their sporting life, so don’t assume that everyone is straight and that nobody is transgender.
None of us are perfect - we aren’t born knowing everything - so accept that you’ll make mistakes and use the mistakes as learning opportunities.
Small demonstrations of interest and support can also go a long way (e.g., social media posts, sharing pronouns, merch like rainbow laces or Everyone is Welcome gear), but being truly inclusive requires a bit more - being aware of challenges that members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and other marginalized populations are facing and then being there as an ally.
Lastly, none of us are perfect - we aren’t born knowing everything - so accept that you’ll make mistakes and use the mistakes as learning opportunities.
If you're interested in playing in Pull for Pride, or want to reach out with support, ideas or questions, you can contact MODS with the subject line Pull for Pride.
Follow MODS on Instagram to be sure and hear all the Pull for Pride news!