Gay hockey veteran says he’s not here for ‘fake inclusion’ after NHL Pride Tape scandal

Hockey vet Brock McGillis comments on the NHL Pride Tape and Pride Jerseys controversy

Gay hockey veteran Brock McGillis has said that he’s not interested in making players “pretend they’re inclusive” in the wake of the NHL Pride tape scandal.

McGillis, who rocked the hockey world when he came out as gay in 2016 after he retired, has been dedicating his time to fighting homophobia in sport.

The former professional goalkeeper has been touring around Canada to meet with 100 different minor league hockey teams and speak to them about LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance – both on and off the rink.

NHL Pride Tape
Gay hockey veteran Brock McGillis has shared his thoughts on the NHL Pride Tape scandal. (Getty Images)

Speaking to CTV News during a talk with two minor league teams in Ottawa, McGillis said that, by sharing his own story and experience, he hopes to “humanize the impact of trying to be gay within the sport” and to help players “recognise the impact” their words can have.

McGillis embarked on this minor league hockey tour back in November – just one month after the National Hockey League (NHL) reversed their controversial decision to ban players from putting Pride Tape on their sticks to demonstrate their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The move to ban Pride Tape was widely criticised by hockey players and fans alike, and LGBTQ+ advocates in general, who worried that it would contribute to the silencing of queer voices while protecting homophobes or transphobes.

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It was a bad look for the NHL who, just months prior, had banned players from wearing Pride-themed jerseys, and other “specialty” kits that raised awareness for other causes, during warm-ups.

NHL Pride Tape
The move to ban Pride Tape was widely criticised by hockey players and fans alike. (Getty Images)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had said at the time that the Pride jerseys had become a “distraction”, after players like Andrei Kuzmenko chose to skip warm-ups on the nights when their teams wore the Pride kit.

When asked what he thought of the controversy, McGillis said that he had no qualms with certain players refusing to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride Tape, because he’d prefer to know what sort of beliefs players held rather than see them “pretend they’re inclusive.”

“When players didn’t wear jerseys, frankly, from my perspective, I looked at it and said they have the freedom of choice not to,” he said. “And I’m ok with that, and I’d rather know.

“I don’t want fake inclusion. I don’t want people to pretend their inclusive, wear a jersey for a night and actually be anti-LGBTQ+, or anti-any group.”

The NHL decided to rescind their ban on Pride Tape after Arizona Coyotes player Travis Dermott publicly defied the rule and used the tape during a game in protest.

Travis Dermott defying the NHL's Pride Tape ban
Travis Dermott’s protest against the Pride Tape ban likely had something to do with the NHL’s backpedaling. (Getty Images)

McGillis is now hoping to teach more up-and-coming players to display the same level of leadership as Dermott.

By telling them about his own experiences, McGillis tells the news network that young players will realise “they can create shifts and become shift makers.”

He continued: “Maybe now [younger players will] stand up to their teammate that says something homophobic. 

“Maybe now they are a little more inclusive and welcoming to the queer kid at school. Maybe they now have a teammate who feels safe to come out.”

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