Saturday, July 25, 2015

There are NO gay players in the NHL-PART ONE

I don't believe that. I don't think anyone does. According to some studies, 10% of the population is homosexual. There are aprox 690 active players in the NHL and 1500 contracted players.

You do the math.

Why is it that every other professional sport has had at least one player come out within the last few years, but hockey players remain silent? There could be many reasons, but my own experience leads me to believe the organization still has a long way to go. 

The media may be part of what's tripping them up.

To be honest, I didn't want to get into all this because I see the strides happening in professional sports and I tend to look at the positive. Players in different sports are coming out. The media is making it possible for them to reach the fans and show acceptance. The YOU CAN PLAY project is supported by some of the players I love.

Changes are happening. While doing research, I came across this special by TSN which is a must see:

TSN Original-Re/Orientation

So we're done, right? Gay marriage is accepted in the US. It's been legal in Canada for the past 10 years. Sports are catching up to equality everywhere.

Blinders aren't a fashion accessory anyone should EVER conform to. We still have a long way to go.

This image was put out there for 'International Day Against Homophobia'. Awesome, right? A visual to show how tolerant we are of people of different orientations. Quebec's beloved sport being shown in an image of support.

I hadn't seen this image until I did some research. And very few people have. According to this article, one of Quebec's biggest media outlets took it down that very day in their building:

Now, this could be completely out of context. Maybe the Quebec media is doing more than I know. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I have my own experiences making me wonder...

This past December, I took the opportunity as a First Line member of the Montreal Canadiens fan club to visit the Bell Center and see one of my all time, favorite players, Saku Koivu. Even before he won his battle against cancer and made strides in improving treatment in Montreal, I admired this man. I was thrilled just to get a chance to be in the same room as him. 

But, as an author who writes about hockey and is aware of the issues involving gay players, there was a very important question I needed to ask him. I knew if any player could make the statement that a gay player would be welcome, it would be him.

Here's the interview. I'll post a transcript of my question below since I know I made a mess of this. I won't quit my day job as an author and become a reporter! ;)

My question comes at 39:00

"In November, Mr. Molson stated in an interview with the Gazette that the Canadiens would welcome an openly gay player on their roster. As a former Hab, do you think the atmosphere in the locker room would make acceptance that easy?"

As soon as I can, I will have a transcript of his reply, but it was perfect. What every young player who may be gay needs to hear. 'You are welcome'.

Only...well, I hope the player is English. Because my question was the ONLY one not translated. And when interviews with Koivu are mentioned at all in the media, his very important message to gay players is ignored.

Now, to be real, I made a mess of that. I was nervous and maybe I didn't speak clearly, but even after the question was repeated, and Koivu answered, there was the same opportunity as with every other question for a translation.

So why didn't it happen?

I can't say for sure, but I do know one thing. I am a sports romance author. My books have reached over a million readers. Some of them have told me they never read gay romance until they picked up my books.

So I have a voice that can reach many. And I will use that hoping that there's one player out there that will hear me and know he is not alone. The charities and the media have taken a HUGE step to pave the way for that brave player who will finally come out, but there are still many obstacles. This blog series will confront many of those obstacles. I will have a transcript of the interview in English AND French as soon as possible. Other sports fiction authors will speak their mind.

Maybe my question was uncomfortable for the interviewer (who I believe is from RDS). I don't want to assume anything, but what I'd like to know is WHY? This was an opportunity to show how a legend in our organization felt about a very important issue.

My name didn't have to be used. I would have been fine with just his answer being out there for one young player to feel the support that's needed. Koivu is a man any talented player can admire. Let HIS words speak to them!

That didn't happen. So I will use my voice and get his words to the people that need to hear them. And hopefully, next time the opportunity comes, the media will grab it and make a difference.


  1. Thanks for asking the question Bianca! I will be eagerly anticipating an answer as well.


    1. I don't expect to hear much about it, but at least the reply will be out there. It's disappointing that gay players still don't feel comfortable coming out in the NHL. I think they should be asking themselves 'Why?'.