Pop Culture Fix: NHL Bans Pride Tape From Its Sticks, Creates Its Own Ice Cold “Don’t Say Gay” Policy

NHL Doubles Down Against LGBT Pride

MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 6: Joel Armia #40 of the Montreal Canadiens tapes his stick before Pride Night warm-up for the NHL regular season game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on April 6, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images)

MONTREAL, CANADA – APRIL 6: Joel Armia #40 of the Montreal Canadiens tapes his stick before Pride Night warm-up for the NHL regular season game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on April 6, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last season, seven National Hockey League players opted out of pregame warmups on Pride or Hockey is For Everyone Nights because they didn’t want to wear Pride jerseys, saying it would violate their religious beliefs. This incident was followed by the National Hockey League clarifying for the upcoming season that players and teams will no longer be asked to wear rainbow-colored Pride jerseys, as these jerseys were determined to be a “distraction” from the special interest nights.

Now, in a crushing blow to rainbows, Outsports is reporting that the league has banned Pride Tape (rainbow tape that NHL players used on their warm-up sticks to signify support for the gays) for all warm-ups, games and practices. The Pride Tape was initially part of the Hockey for Everyone initiative, which some have considered “largely performative,” but regardless, Pride Tape was seen as a small yet important way for players to express solidarity. (In June 2021, the NHL celebrated that their adoption of Pride Tape as a practice was  “spreading to other sports.” They apparently feel differently now.)

The NHL is in the spotlight currently following a “series of memos” released on Thursday clarifying their position on Special Initiatives (in response to teams asking if these new policies would also apply to practices like wearing poppies on their jackets for Remembrance Day), which included statements like:

“Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”

According to a source who spoke to ESPN, “the only off-ice restriction facing teams is that they can’t force players to participate in events regarding the specialty causes, because some players might fear retribution or embarrassment if they decide to not take part.”

Apparently, the NHL has done Pride Nights (and will continue to) and has a partnership with the “You Can Play project” that Outsports says gives them “decade of mostly good will to reflect on.” But things have changed and as per Outsports: “This is, as far as Outsports is aware, the most stifling, anti-LGBTQ policy any pro sports league in North America has ever issued.”

Outsports also noted that the NHL was the only sports league not to tweet anything nice about LGBTQ+ people during Pride Month or change its avatar to a rainbow (the NFL also declined to do so). The NHL is also the only professional sports league in North America to never have a single player or coach come out. There is, however, one out player who is currently a Nashville Predators prospect.

Other pop culture stories:

+ There were a lot of nipples on display at Paris Fashion Week.

+ An Alabama library added Read Me a Story, Stella to a list of books requiring further scrutiny due to the author’s last name being “Gay.” It was not a gay book though, so!

+ Big Brother UK, once a massively popular sensation, is returning to air with a focus on throwing people together who might never encounter one another in their everyday lives. Already, contestant Hallie has come out to her housemates as transgender.

+ Estonian coming-of-age title “Vera and the Pleasure of Others” has released its first trailer. Set to have its world premiere a the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, the film “follows 17-year-old Vera (played by Luciana Grasso), who divides her days between volleyball, school and a secret hobby: she rents out an empty apartment to teenagers looking for a place to have sex.” It’s a very pansexual trailer but I’m not sure what to make of it!

+ The New Yorker on how “Reservation Dogs” redefines the coming-of age story.

+ Nearly 35k fans turned out to celebrate Megan Rapinoe’s last home game with the OL Reign.

+ A really beautiful story with dreamy photographs: The pride of Houston: Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour was a safe space for fans, a homecoming and a coronation

+ Some Halloween help for you: 42 Queer Horror Movies and Shows To Stream This Month

+ How “Dicks: The Musical” created Megan Thee Stallion’s alpha anthem

+ Angelina Jolie embodies opera singer Maria Callas in first look at Pablo Larraín’s ‘Maria’

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3182 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. Long time hockey fan here – the decisions last year but some players to opt out of pride nights – and for their teams and the NHL to allow them – was really hurtful. This stuff is really all small and performative, but when you’re prohibited from even doing small and performative things, that says a lot.

    Also, just to clarify, the NHL isn’t under new leadership. Gary Bettman is still the Commissioner. Has been since 1993. It’s the NHL’s Players Association that has new management.

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