Why Pride Matters in Sports

Tonight’s Pride Night for the Canes and we’re counting down the hours to the game. Of course, the team changing their logo to the Pride version seems to have unleashed the butthurt in the bigoted, small-minded assholes.

“Why you making this political?”

Dude. A person being able to be honest about who they are without fear isn’t political. It’s humanitarian. The fact there’s currently a tie between sexuality and politics is proof of the work still to be done. It’s only when LGBTQ people don’t have to worry about having their marriages nullified, don’t have to worry about being sent to conversion therapy, are able to walk down the street holding hands without fear, that we’ll be able to see it was never about politics.

“How many players have been told they can’t play professionally because they’re gay?”

Actually told that? I don’t have an answer. However, how many have been told to keep it under wraps because the fans, the media, and their own teammates wouldn’t accept them? Many.

How many young athletes still feel they can never come out, despite the growing number of out athletes? They’re still encouraged to keep those “distractions” to themselves. They still face ridicule from dudebros who think liking some men means they won’t be able to control themselves from checking out straight-dude junk. If they do come out, they’re labeled “gay athlete” as if their sexuality is somehow more important than than their ability.

“But straight players don’t come out. Why don’t we have straight pride nights?”

Do you know the story of Billy Bean? Look him up. The man found the love of his life dying in their home, called the ambulance, and then went to play baseball. He couldn’t tell anyone the pain he was in because he’d hidden his partner from everyone. That’s unacceptable. If a straight player had gone through the same situation, the team would’ve supported him through his mourning.

We don’t have “straight pride” because no one is trying to strip away a heterosexual couple’s right to marry, to have a family, to simply be.

There is an assumption in our world of straight until otherwise revealed. We don’t need to bring awareness to straightness because it’s around us every day. Straight players have their spouses sitting in the stands, on their arms at events, by their side throughout their careers. Gay players can’t say the same.

There still isn’t an out NHL player but that doesn’t mean there are no players in the NHL who don’t identify as something other than straight. Nights like tonight are to show them that we, the true fans, love and support them, and that won’t change if they celebrate a Stanley Cup win by kissing their husband or boyfriend.