A founder of Toronto's first gay football league describes how he learned the meaning of Pride.
Ken Scott was instrumental in the creation of the Toronto Gay Football League, or TGFL, and served as its commissioner from 2010 to 2012. He’s currently a member of the league’s executive committee. Here, as part of a special Pride Week series of posts, he describes what Pride means to him.
When I came out at the tender age of 17, it was definitely a relief to let the cat out of the bag. Even so, I had a feeling that I didn’t quite fit in with the other gays I had met by that time.
As a kid growing up in a small town in Quebec, I played a lot of backyard sports with my brothers, and my dad was a sports journalist and a big football fan. You could say sports was a big part of our family. As a high school kid, however, I gave up playing team sports as I became aware of the big differences between myself and the other boys. I was afraid of my secret being found out, so I decided that the less time I spent in the locker room, the better. I had seen other guys being picked on for being different and had heard enough locker-room homophobia that I knew I had to keep that part of me private.
Once I was on my own in Montreal, I realized that, as an Anglophone in a predominantly French community, I also had the language barrier working against me when trying to form relationships with other guys. I decided it would be best for me to make the trek to Ontario to pursue my higher education, and hopefully to figure out what my place was in gay society as a whole.
During my time spent along the Highway 401 corridor, I tried my best to assimilate myself into the community. The language problem was gone, but back then I felt like I had no interest in a lot of things that other gay men seemed to like: fashion, politics, pop music—you name it. I wrongfully judged people and decided I had no use for most of these types of guys. This mindset only increased my feeling of being an outcast. The one common ground I did manage to find was booze. Going out to gay bars and getting wasted several nights a week helped me put aside my feelings about myself and others, and made me feel like part of the gang—even if I sometimes didn’t remember it the next day.
Nowhere was this mentality more on display than at Toronto Pride. My yearly trips to the city were filled with beer, liquor, and a few other vices. That’s what Pride is all about, right? Party, party, party, till you just can’t party no more! Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto for work that my feelings about gay men started to change. I discovered gay sports leagues and, along with them, friends that I actually shared a common interest with. I really wasn’t alone! There were a ton of other athletic, gay, sports-loving guys that I could bond with. This had a profound effect on my life and my attitude towards myself and my community.
The only thing missing was my real sports love: football. There was no gay league in Toronto, so I took it upon myself to try and start one. With the help of several other guys, I helped found the Toronto Gay Football League in 2010. Finally I had a place where I felt completely at home and free to be myself. I’m very good friends with many of these guys to this day.
Marching in the Toronto Pride Parade that year was a real eye opener. I had never been one for watching parades before—I found them to be kind of boring—but I can honestly say that marching along with the gay community was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. High-fiving the people on the sidelines, all of them screaming for you like you’re a rock star—that’s something you don’t get to experience in regular day-to-day life. To be able to share something you love with the public on such a big stage, along with other LGBT folks who are proud to show off what they enjoy, is something that’s truly special. That’s what Pride is really about.
Pride is the one thing that brings all of us together. It lets each of us show off our individuality while at the same time allowing us to unify behind a common goal: showing Toronto and the rest of the world what we’re really made of.