Russia recently passed a series of laws that banned “homosexual propaganda” essentially giving the police and other groups carte blanche to beat the ever loving hell out of anyone deemed too gay. Normally this would be a simple “Jesus Christ, Russia sucks” sort of problem…but the Winter Olympics are set to be held in Sochi in 2014. The issue is exacerbated by the NHL’s partnership with the You Can Play Project which is dedicated to ending homophobia in sports. A hockey player supportive of LGBT individuals is exactly the kind of person the Russian authorities would love to get their billy clubs on.
You Can Play has done video spots with a number of athletes from almost every NHL team. One such athlete is the New York Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist who recently used an interview as an opportunity to illustrate how little he wanted to answer difficult questions at a difficult time. Now, Lundqvist can chose when he speaks and what he speaks about, certainly, but his support of the You Can Play Project along with Swedish teammates Henrik Zetterberg’s and Victor Hedman’s condemnations of the Russian laws make him look like a hypocrite at best and a coward at worst.
Excoriate him for those things if you want and I won’t find many words to stop you, but I’m actually pretty okay with Lundqvist’s lukewarm support. There are LGBT individuals and LGBT allies who do difficult, and at times dangerous work, and great things come out of it. There are also those that don’t say a word, and instead support with their vote, or at the very least their general apathy as opposed to vitriolic condemnation.
We need both groups of people.
I wish Lundqvist had lent his voice and his celebrity at a crucial time for LGBT individuals, but he didn’t. Zetterberg and Hedman did and good for them. It doesn’t make him a bad ally, nor does it make his participation in the You Can Play Project overly disingenuous. If he wants to be a quiet whisper in the screaming advance of history, then that’s his choice. But I’m not going to spend hours upon hours criticizing a guy just because he won’t be the (presumably, after all he has a wife and kid) straight version of Fallon Fox or Jason Collins or Robby Rogers or Candace Parker or whoever. Not everyone can be a General, some just need to be a soldiers.