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Georges Laraque says it's not safe for a gay hockey player to come out of the closet just yet

Aug 12, 2010, 5:45 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for laraquethepolitico.jpgAfter Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke marched in honor of his late son Brendan in a gay rights parade, it only seemed natural to wonder how long it might take for a professional hockey player to “come out of the closet.” That’s never happened – not even for a retired player – in hockey, according to John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal.

MacKinnon asked pugilist-turned-political-activist Georges Laraque if he thought that a player could admit that he’s gay as an active player in the bravado-filled NHL.

In 2010, might there be an athlete out there who could become the NHL’s first openly gay player, a gay Jackie Robinson?

“You can’t compare those situations; they’re totally different,” Laraque said. “When Jackie Robinson played, not everyone on his team was racist. A lot of people admired what he did.

“And that was back in the day when, for me, [racism] was even worse.

“If a gay athlete was to do that, sadly, I don’t think he would be as embraced as Jackie Robinson was. On a team sport, it would be even harder for him. I couldn’t imagine a gay guy that played hockey who would tell his teammates that. There would be so much hell he would have to go through.

“I just know the hockey world, that this is not something people are ready for.”

It seems almost inevitable that someone will become the “gay Jackie Robinson” for the NHL, but I cannot help but agree with Laraque that such a day isn’t in the near future.

That being said, sports and human rights tend to be an odd parfait. In some ways, professional sports often are behind the times but conversely, many great teams integrated long before other parts of society employed minorities. The object was to win games, so the Boston Celtics and other sports teams decided to hire the best talent possible, regardless of skin color.

Sexual preference and ethnicity are two wildly different things, but I still think that the environment will be a lot less hostile for both groups as time goes along. Perhaps the question is: how long will gay athletes need to wait?

  1. Justme123 - Aug 12, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    If the Dodgers had waited until everyone in MLB had been ready to embrace Jackie Robinson, their bold move would not have happened in 1947, or probably even 1957. At some point, some gay NHL player will have the courage to come out, and one hopes find it less dreadful than feared, and that will be that.

  2. Seriously? - Aug 13, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Homosexuality is not natural, it’s a sinful act, unlike a person’s race, which doesn’t change. Comparing homosexuality to what blacks went through in this country is an insult to all Americans.

    • aceman101 - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:49 AM

      Wow, this needs a response… Actually, gays in America are facing the exact same baseless discrimination as blacks once did and still do. Your utterly false and ignorant statement proves this point exactly. Why don’t you take a look at every single credible biological and psychological text on sexuality so you can realize that homosexuality is absolutely natural. Or do objective facts not matter to you?

      YOUR opinion is an insult to all Americans and a disgrace to humanity.

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