The Philadelphia Flyers honored two LGBT advocates at a recent game for their dedication and advocacy work in the community.
Deja Lynn Alvarez was given the Walmart Community Playmaker award at the Feb. 8 Philadelphia Flyers You Can Play Night. The Walmart Community Playmakers Program gives special recognition to community members who are dedicated to improving other people’s lives.
The Flyers also honored You Can Play Northeast Regional Board co-chair Nora Cothren. The co-chair, who could not be reached for comment, grew up in the Philadelphia area. Cothren’s work with You Can Play is dedicated to education, outreach and support for LGBT high-school and college athletes.
The You Can Play Project aims to strengthen equality, respect and safety for sports participants, including LGBT fans, coaches and athletes.
The Flyers played the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center, where Cothren and Alvarez were honored.
“I’m grateful for it,” said Alvarez, a trans woman. “I’m grateful that the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers are trying to become more diverse and support diversity for the players and the fans.
“As we all know, there’s still a lot of work to do for sports and their teams when it comes to LGBTQ diversity. I have always believed when you see someone trying, it is your opportunity to help educate and foster those efforts. That is how you will help to make a change for others.”
The Philadelphia Flyers Department of Community Relations posted on Twitter about Alvarez’s award: “Deja works hard for the support and advocacy of transgender citizens of Philadelphia. Thank you for everything you do Deja.”
Alvarez, a member of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, was formerly the executive director of the LGBTQ Home For Hope, a local shelter serving the LGBT homeless community. She is also on the board of directors of the William Way LGBT Community Center and was a co-organizer for this year’s Philadelphia Women’s March. PGN also recognized her as Person of the Year in 2016.
Alvarez said she was surprised to receive the award, which she was informed about three weeks prior to the game.
“For me, the important part was [that] there’s an opportunity for visibility for trans people amongst a national sport. Overall, it was a good experience,” she said.
“I appreciate the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers for trying to open a door for our community. Transgender people and the LGBTQIA people are sports fans, players, etc. And hopefully, there is someone out there that will see something like this and in some way, it will inspire and help them.”
As part of the night’s game, Flyers captain Claude Giroux was the team’s You Can Play ambassador and entertained young fans from Project HOME, an organization working to break homeless and poverty cycles. Giroux held a meet-and-greet following the game.
Team members also put “Pride” tape on their hockey sticks to be auctioned off by Flyers charities. The proceeds from the auction will go to the You Can Play Project. The Flyers logo also sported a Pride theme.
You Can Play Night is part of the NHL Hockey Everyone Month initiative.