There will some extra muscle on display during this year's Calgary pride parade with the participation of several professional and Olympic athletes.

Eight Canadian Olympians will march in Sunday’s parade and, for the first time, members of Calgary's pro-sports teams will also take part.

The Calgary Flames have confirmed some players will take part in this year's event.

Flames captain Mark Giordano and forward Sean Monahan and their boss, team president Brian Burke, took part in Toronto's pride celebration earlier this year. 

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish, an advocate for gay and lesbian rights, confirmed on Monday he will also attend the parade, walking with the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

“The participation of professional athletes in the Calgary pride parade in such numbers is a milestone. It really challenges that stereotype, not only of Calgary but of Alberta,” said Kristopher Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta.

"Whether athletes want to accept it or not they are role models, they are leaders in our society and they are helping to lead one of the most important social justice and human rights movements in our present day.”

Burke has been an outspoken campaigner against homophobia in sports.

In November 2009, Burke’s other son Brendan made headlines when he announced he was gay and talked about the challenges of playing sports growing up while coming to terms with his sexual identity. Three months later, he was killed in a car accident in Indiana.

With his other son Patrick, Burke helped found You Can Play, an advocacy program that challenges sports teams to stamp out discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The parade begins at noon on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Centre Street and Eighth Avenue and proceeds west towards Shaw Millennium Park, where there will be post-march festival with a music stage hosted by Les Girls and YYC Bad Boys, food trucks, beer gardens, vendors and a family zone.


  • An earlier version of this story said Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano were expected to march in the parade. In fact it hasn't been confirmed yet which Flames will take part.
    Aug 26, 2014 9:44 AM MT