If you’re a professional sports team in Chicago and you really want to show appreciation for your LGBTQ fans, beyond the well-intentioned but non-specific initiative that every team in your league participates in, you call Bill Gubrud.
Gubrud is the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame and organizer of Out at Wrigley, the longest-running Pride event at any Major League Baseball stadium. He tells Outsports the Chicago Blackhawks turned to him and NGLS Hall of Fame creative director Jackie Weinberg for help organizing and promoting the team’s first Pride night, set for March 5.
“We both are extremely excited and happy to have been asked to be involved!” said Gubrud.
Last year, every NHL team took part in “Hockey Is For Everyone,” an outstanding effort begun in 2017 in partnership with the You Can Play project, among others, in support of inclusivity “regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.” The project got its start in 2012, and since 2014, all NHL teams have done something as part of the You Can Play project’s anti-homophobia campaign. You Can Play tweeted on Thursday that the Detroit Red Wings “Hockey Is For Everyone” night will be held in exactly one month.
But this year, the Blackhawks are joining the New Jersey Devils, the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers in taking the extra step of dedicating that game to fans who are part of the LGBTQ community, by calling it “Pride Night.”
“On March 5th, the Blackhawks will be having their first-ever gay day/pride night,” Gubrud told Outsports. “Jackie Weinberg and I were brought on board to help promote and organize the event.”
Gubrud posted details of the Blackhawks Pride Night on Facebook:
“Everyone who purchases through the offer [on the Blackhawks promotions tickets site] will receive a pair of Blackhawks rainbow socks.”
Also, the first 10,000 fans who buy regular admission tickets will receive a Duncan Keith Floss Holder.
There will also be photo opportunities — rainbow-themed, of course — in the East Atrium before the game, according to Gubrud’s Facebook post. Players will use Pride tape on their sticks for the warm–up, which will be auctioned-off after the game in support of local LGBTQ-focused charities.
The Chicago Gay Hockey Association announced it is also a partner with the Blackhawks for this event.
“We’ll be playing in a friendly game at the United Center on Wednesday, March 4th from 7:45-9:15pm, and then on Thursday, March 5th we’ll be watching the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Edmonton Oilers at 7:30pm,” the CGHA posted online.
“We are working with the Blackhawks to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience where your family and friends will be able to watch you play on the storied ice at 1901 W. Madison. Additional opportunities to meet a player, have a locker room tour, grab some pride swag, and more are still being determined!”
And according to Gubrud, there are also plans for one lucky fan to win an opportunity to “Shoot the Puck.” Details are not yet available, according to Gubrud’s post. But he did share one more tantalizing detail with Outsports, and given his historic role in organizing OUT at Wrigley, this is pretty special:
“The Blackhawks will also be involved in OUT at Wrigley 2020 in some capacity,” he said.
Back in 2001, the diehard Cubs fan and Windy City native organized the first OUT at Wrigley event and was the driving force that convinced the Cubs to purchase ads in the Chicago Free Press, a gay community publication that closed down in 2010. That was a bold and unprecedented ad buy for that era.
We’ll keep you posted about plans for Pride Night for the Blackhawks and OUT at Wrigley for the Cubs!
Click here for information about the Chicago Blackhawks Pride Night promotion package. Find out more at the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page. The Chicago Gay Hockey Association also has a portal that can be accessed by clicking here.