The Utah Grizzlies are proud to celebrate Pride.
The pro hockey club held its annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night over the weekend, defeating the Wichita Thunder by a score of 5-4. The team rallied with three goals in the third period for the come-from-behind win.
It was a thrilling night of hockey at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Forward Brandon Cutler scored the game-winner, and celebrated in kind!
It was a performance that fit the occasion.
The Grizzlies take Pride Night seriously, now hosting the event for three years in a row. When they held their inaugural Pride Night in 2021, they became the first pro hockey team in Utah to celebrate its LGBTQ+ fans.
The Grizzlies, who consult with the Utah Pride Center for the now-annual event, aim to make the night an inclusive and educational experience.
“My goal is to use this platform at the Grizzlies to bring together 8,000 community members, allies, and fans while creating a safe, inclusive space for all,” said a team exec.
The night was a rousing success before the puck was even dropped. The Grizzlies donned some sweet rainbow sweaters during warmups, complete with a rainbow grizzly claw.
Fans on social media agree the jerseys are 🔥🔥🔥.
Many even want their own!
Must get!!!!!— S.P (@WinterFangs) November 11, 2023
Hello @UtahGrizzlies I need one of these. Let me give you money— Bobussy (@iamthebobkat) November 11, 2023
Fire! I love them!— Christina Hart (@ChristieHartCO) November 12, 2023
At first glance, it may seem surprising that a hockey team based in West Valley City, Utah goes all out for Pride. Utah, a conservative Mormon state, isn’t usually known for its embrace of the rainbow.
But that narrow view fails to acknowledge the widespread success of sports Pride Nights. Nearly every NHL and NBA club hold some sort of LGBTQ+ inclusion night, and the same can be said for MLB. In fact, the Texas Rangers are the only MLB team that’s never held a Pride event.
While there have been multiple Pride-related controversies in sports recently, the nights are very popular.
Look no further than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who withstood weeks of right-wing backlash over their decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, only to sell over 49,000 tickets for the game itself.
There is also a strong tradition of pro teams in small markets championing LGBTQ+ inclusivity, much to the delight of their fans. Earlier this year, we spotlighted the Missoula Paddleheads, a pro baseball team in Montana that also gets Pride right.
Despite playing in a conservative state, the Paddleheads stress diversity and inclusivity. One of the chief architects of the team’s Pride extravaganza told Queerty fans are on board with the their commitment.
And if they’re not, they’re free to leave. She recalled an incident earlier in the season when a homophobic fan approached the owner’s box and railed against the Pride initiative.
Owner Peter Davis told the fan he wasn’t welcome to attend games anymore.
The Grizzlies appear to take on a similar attitude. They routinely promote Pride on their social media channels, and their fans respond!
This year’s Pride Night also coincided with Pups Night. We’re sure that was just a coincidence, right? Either way, woof!
Those sweaters are fiiiine…
The Grizzlies’ all-in approach to Pride stands in stark contrast to the NHL’s bungling of the issue. Before the season, the league announced it was banning players from wearing rainbow jerseys or using Pride tape — a staple around the NHL.
It took just a couple of weeks for the league to rescind the ruling, however. Arizona Coyotes player Travis Dermott defied the league and used Pride tape, anyway.
Less than 10 players refused to wear rainbow jerseys last year; and yet, the NHL was following their lead when it comes to dictating policy.
The Grizzlies, of course, made no such mistake. They were out and proud in their rainbow best Saturday, and walked away winners.
Let that be a lesson to all! Pump up Pride, and enjoy the W.