Manchester Storm partner with Manchester Pride as part of the Pride Weekend campaign by the EIHL.
The Storm are one of many sides promoting LGBTQ+ Pride this weekend with all teams wearing special jerseys for their fixtures.
Some sides are auctioning these jerseys off to raise money for various charities including local Pride groups.
Everyone in the league is getting behind the campaign including the officials who have donned the rainbow.
— Premier Sports Elite League | #EIHL (@officialEIHL) January 8, 2022
Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t shared across all supporters of the game as fans do still hear homophobic abuse.
The Wider Effect
Ant Stonelake a student and ice hockey fan who is openly gender neutral and bisexual experienced this recently.
“I was at a game a couple of weeks back and as the game ended there was a typical ice hockey fight that broke out between two teams, but one of the fans in the crowd hurled a homophobic slur to one of the players.
“It made me feel very uncomfortable to hear someone saying that as a bisexual person. I said to him do you realise how homophobic that is, he just asked: what did I say”.
This incident didn’t happen in the Elite League but is still of concern for the sport.
If people within the LGBTQ+ community don’t feel their feelings are respected, how are they meant to safely come out?
Zach Sullivan an openly bisexual player for the Manchester Storm spoke about his feelings regarding the campaign, saying: “I think the Pride week this season put on by the EIHL is a brilliant event to have, it shows that there are people within the league taking steps to make it more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community, which is obviously a great thing”.
Sullivan came out openly in January of 2020 and since then has been representing organisations such as Athlete Ally.
They work with ambassadors to promote equality for the LGBTQ+ community in sport.
So, what more can be done to promote the necessary equality?
Sullivan believes education is the way forwards: “The next steps would be behind the scenes working with the clubs and individuals involved throughout the league to better educate everyone on the effects of their language and behaviour.
“I think it could be a league led initiative to start educating the individuals involved with each team and within the league structure itself. There a thousands of brilliant sources, individuals and organisations that would be open to discussions of this nature”.
With this he hopes that ice hockey and sport as a whole can be more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.