Hockey is one of those games, like lacrosse, that alters as it crosses the Atlantic. In Britain, if a man says he is a passionate hockey or lacrosse player, he may get a certain “Fnar fnar” response. In North America by contrast, it would be most unwise to “Fnar fnar” at your average hockey player.
A good example comes in the form of Ivan Provorov. He is a big Russian-born ice hockey player who currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers in the National Hockey League. Not all readers will be following the NHL carefully, and I admit that I am teetering at the very edge of my knowledge as I type this. Still, the NHL grabbed my attention last week because Provorov became the latest victim of Big Gay’s overreach. Or to be precise, Big LGBTQI+’s overreach. As I have commented before, when gays didn’t have any rights the talk was all about equality and being allowed to do what you wanted so long as it didn’t harm anyone else. God knows, I was arguing the case for gay marriage in these pages years before it was cool. But after that and other victories were won, a cartel of gay groups and others who speak for almost no gays chose to take a harsher turn.
Suddenly Pride Month was to be treated as were holy days of old. The flag that started off as rainbow became so crazily “inclusive” that it can now induce epilepsy, at which point it had to be flown from all public buildings. There are times when some city centers are positively festooned with these barmy flags, reminiscent of the time the king of Saudi Arabia visited London some years back and his nation’s none-too-welcoming scimitar flag was hung all the way down the Mall.
But to get back to hockey. For some reason it was decided the other week that a Philadelphia Flyers game would be rebranded “Pride night.” All the players were told to wear “Pride-themed jerseys” during the warm-up and wrap their hockey sticks in “Pride” tape. Provorov refused, missed the warm-up and when asked why said: “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and to my [Russian Orthodox] religion.” At which point the kindness and toleration crew really kicked in.
A fairly typical response came from National Hockey League analyst E.J. Hradek. “Provorov can get on a plane any day he wants and go back to a place he feels more comfortable,” he said, continuing: “I understand there’s a conflict of sorts going on over there, maybe get involved.” That’s quite the leap right there — in our own lifetimes — from “We just want to be accepted” to “Wear the Pride uniform or go back to where you came from and die.”
Well this gay is on Provorov’s side. If the editor of The Spectator suddenly went doolally and insisted that everybody in the office must wear a Pride jumper and wrap themselves in Pride tape before a public appearance, I too would refuse. Not least because, like a lot of other people, I have had quite enough of this.
Gay people make up a tiny percentage of the population. Maybe 4 percent. People who are actually trans (as opposed to the 0.2 percent who identified that way in the census, including the “Look at me: I’m a teenager and not getting enough attention” sort) likely constitute less than 0.1 percent of the population. But at present a bewildering amount of energy and airtime is being dedicated to these unrelated minorities.
The UK parliaments in Edinburgh and Westminster seemed to spend most of last week discussing a subset within a subset of this issue (sixteen-year-olds self-identifying in the north of Britain). All this while inflation in the country sits at 10.5 percent, five million Brits are claiming out-of-work benefits and we have a labor deficiency, a supply-chain problem and energy shortages everywhere. Alongside these problems a few confused teenagers in Glasgow may seem an easy thing to fix, but I just don’t think that they are anywhere near as important. In fact I’d go further. I believe a rising tide raises all boats and if we spent less time talking about trans and more time sorting out the economy, anyone who’s gender-confused would have more money to buy as much lipstick as they want.
But back again to the hockey. The problem is that the current moment is an overcorrection, boosted by woke inc., including woke sport. When there were real gay rights to be won, the corporate and sporting worlds were nowhere to be seen. They’re all over the rainbow people now only because the battles are won. As a result, they are overdoing it like all new converts and people are getting annoyed. Most people are pretty tolerant, but they’ve had enough of the endless indoctrination, the gay police cars and transgender crosswalks, the “awareness raising” and, frankly, being lectured by a lot of deranged people.
And now the counter-reaction is under way. In America a horrific story has emerged of a gay couple from Atlanta, Georgia, who have been charged with sexual abuse and pimping out their two adopted sons. As each new detail emerges, it gets worse. But it is one of those moments when you feel the air coming out of a highly pressured radiator. The world’s media have not been coy about saying that it is a “gay couple” who have been so charged, rather than a straight couple. And prominent conservative campaigners in the US have taken the opportunity to claim that this all goes to prove something. “We let male couples adopt children and then act surprised when this happens,” wrote one. You can feel the gloves coming off. Connecting homosexuality and pedophilia is one of the oldest anti-gay tropes of the lot. Using one case to smear a whole group is almost the definition of bigotry.
Yet, ugly as it is, this too is predictable. Hit everyone over the head with your Pride stick for long enough and at some point people will search for a weapon to hit back. Game on, as we say in hockey circles.