This hockey player is making a small gesture for equality and it is beautifully simple

This Swedish ice hockey professional is fighting for equality with a beautifully small gesture.

Anders Nilsson painted a Pride flag onto his helmet at the start of the season to show solidarity with his friends who are in the LGBT community.

pride flag

He thought the move would be a small gesture, but instead it’s grown into a huge talking point.

The goal tender, who plays for the Buffalo Sabres, was picked up by Buffalo news for wearing the flag which sparked Nilsson to respond.

“I have a couple friends who are gay, and life hasn’t been easy for them growing up,” Nilsson said to Buffalo News. “It’s time that hockey starts to pay some attention to that.”

The 26-year-old decided to put the flag on his mask, which is near a portrait of his son, after he took part in an inclusion event while playing for Edmonton.

He became part of the fist NHL team to show off the flag – and he is now carrying on the tradition.

“We brought awareness last year in Edmonton,” Nilsson said. “We had a skills competition, Edmonton has one every year, and during that game we had rainbow tape. They said they were the first team in North America to do that.

“This summer, I thought why not be the first goalie to put that on the helmet and raise some awareness for that?”

The move is earning recognition among the sporting world, and Nilsson has ben hailed by the You Can Play Project. The director, Wade Davis, praised Nilsson.

“Anders Nilsson is courageous beyond the understanding of many,” Davis said. “He is taking a risk on multiple fronts and is standing up for something that he believes in, knowing the backlash that could come his way. He’s my hero.”

The NHL has shown bounds of progression in it’s acceptance of the LGBT community lately.

Canadian hockey star Brad Marchand called out a fan who sent him a homophobic message.

The Twitter user wrote: “Put [Bruins captain] Chara’s dick back in your mouth you fucking fag.”

Rather than stoop to the level of the person who sent the abuse, Marchand shared it – adding: “This derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world. [You’re] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of.”

A same-sex couple who won golds at the Rio Olympics have been recognised by the Queen.

Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh have been named in the New Year’s Honours list, along with the rest of the winning Team GB women’s hockey team.

Kate Richardson-Walsh, team captain, is to receive an OBE, while her wife gets an MBE. They are the first married couple to play together on the same team at the Olympics.

The National Women’s Hockey League has also pledged to protect transgender players, after the recruitment of the first ever trans pro-athlete.