May 7, 2011, 6:30 PM EDT
A role that most people know Rangers forward Sean Avery for is finding ways to get under the skin of opponents and stirring things up in a pest-like way. Sometimes he takes things a bit too far and fans of opposing teams let him hear it whenever he visits their arena. Avery’s also a bit of a renegade of sorts in the hockey world as he’s a known fashion mogul even interning with Vogue Magazine a couple years ago.
Another part of Avery’s off-ice work though comes in the form of supporting gay rights and he’s made another splash this year stepping up and joining the Human Rights Campaign as well as filming a commercial supporting New Yorkers for Marriage Equality. In pro sports, finding anyone to speak out publicly in support of gays or gay rights is rare. With the specter of homophobia that runs rampant through all professional sports, Avery is a renegade in that he’s more than eager to show his support for homosexuals.
The New York Times’ John Branch finds out from Avery what motivates him to lend his voice to civil rights issue that remains taboo in sports.
“The places I’ve played and lived the longest have been in West Hollywood, Calif., when I played for the L.A. Kings, and when I moved to New York, I lived in Chelsea for the first four years,” Avery said in a phone interview. “I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends.”
Avery, who lives in the SoHo section of Manhattan and keeps a home in Los Angeles, said some of those friends had wanted to marry, and he saw no reason they should not.
“I’m certainly open to it,” he said. “Maybe I can help, and I jumped at this opportunity.”
We’ve seen Avery speak out on this subject before saying he’d be ready to support any hockey player that wanted to come out publicly and his prominent stand as a supporter for gay rights is both eye-opening and a pleasant change of pace considering the hush-hush light the issue has in professional sports. While Avery gets grief from most anyone for the way he acts on the ice, his actions off of the ice like this show that what you see on the ice is totally different from what you get off of it.
Avery’s to be commended for standing up for his friends and neighbors and all those who have to deal with hate and bigotry like this as its an issue that gets treated with kid gloves too often. There’s no room in the world for people to discriminate against fellow human beings and having a famous face, even a face that might anger the everyday sports fan, lend support is a great thing.
(h/t to Scotty Hockey on the tip)
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