Let’s Talk About Pride And the NHL

I’m trying to be less stressed on here and talk more light-hearted sports stuff but this is important. I tweeted out this today.

I’ve made the big, huge mistake of reading the comments on NHL Pride posts. I know, as a proud queer hockey fan, I should have restrained myself because it’s put me in such a shitty and angry mood that I’m here, writing this to you. I don’t care if you’re straight or queer, this post is for everyone.

People don’t understand why the NHL is standing tall with the LGBT+ Community this year, more than it has in the past, and let me tell you that there is a fucking reason why.

It’s 2020 and just 12 days ago, it became illegal in every state in the US to be fired because you’re gay. Just 12 fucking days ago. Do you know that the administration we’re currently under is trying to make it legal for gay parents adopting children to be rejected just for their sexuality? This month, Pride Month, we haven’t seen support from the President. He even didn’t seem too fond of the Supreme Court making illegal for gays to be fired on grounds of sexuality. I get so stressed out worrying if in the future I’ll be able to adopt kids, even have a job, or be called the f-slur when I’m wearing Pride apparel and I need an outlet. I get that outlet from hockey.

I’ve loved hockey for years and if you’re a regular to Ham Sports, I’m sure you are too. I love to talk stats and player predictions, so the NHL and what they’re doing is a big part of my life. This month, they’ve actually shown support for us and more than I’ve seen in my time as a fan. They have been posting and talking about supporting the LGBT+ community but there is a double blade to that sword.

For example, let’s go back to when I was at the Blackhawks Pride Night way back in March. I felt welcomed and appreciated by the rainbows and Pride tape but even as I walked the concourse with Pride pins and my Pride shirt, the fear was still there. I was constantly on edge, waiting for someone to say something. For someone to make a comment about Pride tape or the Pride flag on the ice. I was ready for someone to see my pins and say something. I’ve been trained to be on edge because I’m so used people throwing some insult my way. Even in the outlet I keep most sacred, I was ready for someone to take that security away. Away from the rink, with the NHL’s Pride posts and posters that have made me so fucking happy to be a hockey fan, I see the comments and the homophobia that radiates from them and that security I mentioned earlier is gone again.

I know that you can never judge a company or organization based on the comments but I still feel disgusted when I read the comments on NHL Pride posts. I try not to read them. Today when I read through, it was people saying that the NHL should stick to sports and that gay people are “abominations” and “disgusting”. It’s fucking heartbreaking to read.

If you don’t know, we celebrate Pride month because this is the month our fight for right really kick-started way back in 1969. Therefore, to remember the Stonewall Uprising, we have a parade to celebrate the people who lived, fought, and sometimes died for our rights to just live, to have a job, to have a home, to not be murdered. We don’t celebrate Pride for “coming out” or just because. We remember those who came before us. We remember those who died for us to even get a sliver of the rights we deserve. So for companies and organizations to step up and stand with us, it does mean a lot. But sometimes standing “with” us is not enough. For example, the NHL “stands with us” but then ignores the comments filled with homophobia and the stories of homophobic locker rooms in it’s lower leagues. This is where change needs to come in.

Although the NHL is doing great being here for us, they need to be there in the comments. Educating people on why they’re standing with us, educate them on what homophobia really is. The Hurricanes did that for us this season. They took a fucking stand. You can’t be an ally just sitting by as your own post is derailed and breeding hate. The same goes for when teams commented on the Black Live Matter movement. They didn’t step in in the comments and take control of the situation. They didn’t educated the ignorant on why this was happening. They said “we stand with you” (if that) and then dipped back to their corner of privileged safety.

NHL teams are in a place of power. They have the means and influence to educate people on how to just be accepting, even not just flat out offensive. They have the grounds to actually educate fans and players on the harms of homophobic language, even as a “joke”. On how saying that you “stand with Pride” but don’t want to see it, is homophobic. On how using the f-slur is extremely insensitive and offensive. Educate them on why we celebrate Pride month. Don’t say you stand with us and then allow your replies to be filled with toxicity 365 days a year. You say “Hockey is For Everyone”, make it that way.  Take an actual stand against homophobes in your replies. You say that you stand with your LGBT fans but allow them to be dehumanized in the same post. It’s disgusting and I’m sick of it.

That includes cracking down on locker room slurs. We’ve heard so many storied from ex-players (such as Brock McGillis) who speak up and talk about how toxic the locker room was for them. You need to stop that kind of talk from the jump. Saying you’re “just joking” isn’t acceptable. Those jokes stick with people. I still haven’t forgotten some of the things people said that are “just jokes”. It’s just plain rude sometimes so step up and help knock that shit off.

If you want to learn how to be better, it’s never too late. 

Your first step is to stop saying “fag” aka the f-slur. That word is derogatory and rude. I guarantee that if you’ve said it around a gay person, even if they said it’s fine, they were uncomfortable and slightly offended.

As I’ve said numerous times, I’m proud of who I am. I haven’t always been. It took a lot for me to get to the place I am today and there are kids who are still climbing their way here. To see your angry and disgusting replies to damaging and they’re the ones I really worry about. We’ve seen too much hate and alienation, let’s change that. Just please, please, please try to understand why this is important to us. This year has been shitty so let’s make it better. That’s what I’ll leave you with tonight. Tomorrow, take action. Be better.

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