Pride Month has me thinking about the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone campaign, which I love and know that the message is for more than just people in the LGBTQ community.
Presently, there are more than 700 players on NHL rosters and zero have come out as gay or bisexual. Same goes for the NHL’s minor league, the AHL. Then I thought about my own locker rooms.
According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 4.5% of Americans identify as LGBT. Considering I’ve been playing hockey since the 1970s and have played with thousands of people, based on that stat, I should know at least dozens of LGBT hockey players. Over the years, I’ve skated with about a half dozen out lesbians, but ZERO gay or bisexual men. Can that be possible? No.
I take this to mean that we have a lot of work to do in order to make gay and bisexual men feel comfortable being out at all levels of hockey. We need to watch how we talk at the rink, especially the language used on the ice and in locker rooms. We need to make people feel welcome, included and an equal part of the team (and hockey community) no matter who they love.
Indeed hockey is for everyone and we need to do a much better job of allowing its players to be out and proud. After all, that’s what Pride is all about.