Hip Checks & Gut Checks: Ending Homophobia in Hockey

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About Jeff Perera

Jeff is a facilitator for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest effort to engage men in ending violence against women, and founded a chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada to further a gender-inclusive environment. Jeff is also co-director and curator of the annual discussion-focused ‘What Makes a Man’ White Ribbon Conference having organized, facilitated and spoken at numerous events from Toronto to Taiwan. In 2010 he delivered the TEDx talk ‘Words Speak Louder Than Actions’ discussing gender roles, the power of words and the impact we all can make.


  1. “For some pro-athletes, going to see the team doctor [is] like getting spayed or neutered.”

    I recognize that I’m nitpicking an excellent piece, but in an article that’s all about damaging attitudes toward gender and manhood, and how to work on correcting them, the above quote slips in a common bias that infertility makes someone “less of a man”. That may not seem obvious, but imagine if the line was, “For some pro-athletes, going to see the team doctor is like putting on a dress.” If the bias isn’t acknowledged or challenged, it just looks like the bias in action.

    Overall, I agree with the message of the piece, and admire the Burke Family’s efforts to do something about these damaging attitudes and behavior. I think the article discusses two overlapping biases as if they’re the same thing, when they’re not. Joking about or threatening someone for “suckin’ cock” is clearly homophobic, while putting Chris Pronger in a dress shows fear (or contempt) of being “like a girl” which is related (because of the effiminate gay stereotype), but different. While I think it’s demonstrably true that homosexuals have as much athletic talent and potential as heterosexuals, I also think it’s demonstrably true that women do *not* have as much athletic talent and potential as men – for contact sports, when played *at the highest levels*. That doesn’t make it okay to disparage women or femininity in a sporting context, but whatever that’s about, I don’t think solving the homophobia problem would fix that, too. Chicago could change their uniforms to a rainbow design with the purple Teletubby as the mascot, and I think they’d still be just as likely to take-out an ad during playoffs that depicts Pronger in a dress.

  2. I’m really pleased to see the NHL and its players and personnel taking on this issue and addressing the fact that sexual orientation has nothing to do with athletic skill, competitiveness, and heart. The cohesiveness of a team rises above individual ambitions and differences and that is what makes team sports a wonderful experience, both to play and to watch.

    It also strikes me that maybe it’s not so surprising that the hockey world is taking the lead in addressing homophobia in pro sports. Why? Blame Canada :) Canada has a much more tolerant attitude around LGBT people. It’s not perfect, but it’s less of a contentious or moral issues than in the States. Gay marriage is a settled issue in Canada and there is structural support at all levels of government and social services for all partnerships regardless of gender. I hope that this trend spreads…

  3. I seriously can’t recommend watching the interview linked near the bottom of this article enough.


  1. [...] Click the link to read Jeff’s latest article on the Good Men Project sharing his approaches to…  [...]

  2. [...] Originally featured in the Good Men Project: The first in a Higher Unlearning series by Jeff Perera looking at how sexism and homophobia in sport directly impacts heterosexual young men and boys as well as how the You Can Play project works to create athletic spaces for everyone regardless of sexual orientation. [...]

  3. [...] fighting? Imagine the ridicule that a player would face if he refused to fight. There are regular reminders that hockey values traditional masculinity and shames anyone who defies [...]

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