(Photo courtesy of Outsports) “San Jose Sharks LGBTQIA+ pride jerseys.”
The National Hockey League is again facing controversies over canceling pride nights because of certain players’ beliefs. The Chicago Blackhawks announced that their team would not wear warmup pride jerseys due to three players citing safety concerns for some of their Russian players.
With so many NHL teams backing out of pride nights and wearing jerseys for different reasons, many fans have started to feel that there is not a safe space for them in the sport of hockey. These actions hurt not just fans but many aspiring NHL players who are in the LGBTQ+ community along with current players who may not be out yet.
With all the mistakes NHL teams have been making during these situations there were many fans who were surprised when the San Jose Sharks dealt with their goaltender James Reimer boycotting pride theme warmup jerseys differently than many other teams.
A post on the Shark’s official Twitter page with a statement from James Reimer came out a few hours before the game. He said, “For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title but in how I choose to live my daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and to follow Him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness.” Many fans were outraged at the goaltender and felt that he was using his religion as an excuse for homophobia.
In response to Reimer’s remarks the Sharks stated that, “We acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”
This same sort of statement has been made by other teams; luckily for the city of San Jose, their hockey organization made sure people could have a breath of fresh air when they proved themselves and showed that actions speak louder than words.
Despite Reimer’s threats to boycott the game, the Sharks went along with their pride night. Players came to the ice with special jerseys that were designed by San Jose native and queer artist Houyee Chow. The jerseys featured a Pride crest and a “Love Wins” patch. At the end of the game the jerseys were auctioned off and the money would be sent to charities for Adolescent Counseling Services.
The entire night of the game, San Jose’s social media accounts posted many LGBTQIA+-related things. There were many tweets with statistics on the number of LGBTQIA+ youth in the United States and particularly the stats of them in sports. Along with these, the Sharks posted infographics on pronouns, gender identity, sexual orientation and additional information.