Former NHL Player Advocates for the LGBT Community
While NFL's Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe made headlines this year for his strong support for marriage equality and LGBT rights, former New York Rangers hockey player Sean Avery continues to fight for gay rights in sports, the New York Daily News reports.
The athlete has raised concerns over the fact that NHL labor negotiations did not addressed what to do when a player uses an anti-gay slur. Avery called the league's commissioner, Gary Bettman, "the worst" and believes penalties and fines should stricter when players use homophobic slurs.
"My belief is the responsibility lies with the leagues, the way they discipline players, the position they take and use it in every-day incidents," Avery said. "One guy'll get slapped with a fine, the next day nothing will happen. There needs to be consistency."
The Daily News notes that the NHL hasn't been consistent when punishing players who spewed anti-gay remarks. In 2010, James Wisniewski of the Columbus Blue Jackets was suspended for an anti-gay gesture toward Avery but in 2011, Bettman did nothing when Avery reported that Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers used the word "fag."
"They said there wasn't sufficient evidence, but it's on YouTube as clear as day," the hockey star said.
In 2011, Avery, 32, publicly announced that he supports same-sex marriage and joined the Human Rights Campaign's New Yorkers for Marriage Equality series of ads.
"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 told the New York Times. "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."
While Avery was with the New York Rangers, he was suspended for his language regarding women.
"Maybe it's because when I was such a bully when I had my uniform on, that when I took it off I felt the need to stand up against the bully," he said.
The athlete went on to tell the Daily News that he is worried about anti-gay harassment on the Internet.
"I get called a fag every day on the internet," he said. "You have to police it somehow."