NHL Doubles Down Against LGBT Pride
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.
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+ 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.
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