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Good Gay News: The NHL and its History of Homophobia

Good Gay News: The NHL and its History of Homophobia

The NHL (National Hockey League) has a long history with being homophobic and not accepting of gay hockey players. Many of the gay hockey players were forced to stay in the closet out of fear of backlash from the league. They have passed anti-LGBTQ+ policies recently like banning the wearing of Pride jerseys during the Pride Night they hosted. They did it out of fear for the Russian players because of Russia notoriously against LGBTQ+ people and their rights. Many players also refused to wear them because of religious beliefs so the committee decided to ban them all together. The jerseys wouldn’t be worn during the actual games, they were only to wear during the pre-game warmups. Another ban that happened in October was the banning of the pride tape that goes on the hockey-sticks. Some critics have called it the league’s own “Don’t Say Gay” policy. The banning of the pride tape lasted two weeks, on October 24, 2023, the NHL had gone back on their decision on banning the tape. A member of the Arizona Coyote’s, Travis Dermott, defied the ban by wrapping his stick in pride tape during a game he played. Other players had spoken out against the ban as well including a Philadelphia Flyers forward, Scott Laughton. The NHL’s PR account had posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that, “After consultation with the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, Players will now have the option to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season.” They don’t know how the Pride Night’s in the NHL will continue with the new measures, but currently there isn’t any news about the one they were supposed to have in October.  

There has only ever been one active player that’s came out and he is on a team in a state that’s one of the worst anti-LGBTQ+ states in the US. Luke Prokop became the NHL’s first active player to come out as gay. Prokop, a right-handed defenseman was a 2020 draft pick for the Nashville Predators. He had come out through an Instagram post and stated, “living an authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.” He had also included in that post that he had hopes that him coming out would show the world that gay people are welcome in the hockey community. He was inspired during the COVID-19 pandemic to finally come out since at the time there was not out and active hockey players. Sean Henry, the President and CEO of the Nashville Predators had said, “is proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks, and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect,” in response to Prokop coming out publicly. He had also received a lot of support from family, friends, and fellow NHL players after he came out.  

On another lighter note, a retired NHL player is touring Canadian High Schools to speak to their hockey teams about acceptance. Brook McGillis, is going on a tour called the “Culture Shift Tour.” The tours official website the tour aims to “’humanize his experience of someone different than the norm and teach simple ways we can all create shifts so everyone can be themselves.’” McGillis had came out in 2016 and he believes hockey players would actually be acceptive of the community. He believes that “the language and behaviors — especially at younger ages — lead people to feel like they won’t be welcomed,” according to his interview with Outsports. He was the first, semi-professional hockey player, to come out in Canada. Hockey leagues are not as welcoming as they should be, but they have room for improvement.  

This concludes the last installment of Good Gay News for the year of 2023. Please remember you are loved, cherished, and appreciated by many people. Ignore the negative things people say about you and the community; know things will improve.   

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About the Contributor
Sky Cale
Sky Cale, Staff Reporter
Sky Cale is a senior studying creative writing and minoring in Political Science. She has plans to go get an online master's degree in creative writing. She has aspirations to become an author in the future. She is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in and outside of Appalachia. She works in the Turley Center helping students navigate their way through the third floor. Outside of classes, you can find her walking her ESA Mars around the campus, playing the Sims, or writing her books. 
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