Ice hockey fans from Scotland have demonstrated their commitment to diversity in the sport with a rainbow display at a recent national play-off event.
Fans of Glasgow Clan displayed a huge banner and waved rainbow colours, with many wearing rainbow shirts and colours of support, at the Elite Ice Hockey League’s playoff event in Nottingham at the weekend.
Glasgow’s ice hockey team, based at Braehead, stood firmly behind its supporters who organised the #HockeyIsForEveryone display in Nottingham to demonstrate solidarity with LGBT people and show that ice hockey is a sport that welcomes everyone.
Each year Glasgow Clan fans, or the Purple Army as they’re collectively known, organise a theme for their section of the play-offs and this year Linda Hancy decided she wanted to try a rainbow theme, bringing everyone together in a show of diversity.
Speaking ahead of the playoffs, Linda told British Ice Hockey news:
“It’s something the Purple Army do at the play-off finals every year and at first, I thought a rainbow-type theme which then expanded into Pride, with the strong message that hockey is for everyone.“
So the theme was agreed, but how would they do something big and impactful at the playoffs? Well the colourful display was the brainchild of Callum Yorke, a dedicated Clan supporter, who explained how it all happened.
“There was one idiot who disagreed [with the rainbow theme]. His homophobic comments on social media caused a massive backlash amongst fans and even our team mascot Clangus called him out on his views. This all united fans even further, with fans from other teams joining the support – suddenly everyone started getting right behind the theme that Hockey is for Everyone.”
“The Clan have been involved in Pride Glasgow for a few years and I wanted to bring a strong message – we decided on a big display for the first game. We got 6 huge strips of coloured material and my wife cut out the big foam letters for the main message.”
“I guess I felt a bit nervous on how the display would go down, just because I wanted to give the message the respect and impact it deserved. I was really hoping it would be well received. The reaction to the display when we lifted the fabrics totally blew me away. The arena was cheering and social media went absolutely crazy thanking the Clan fans for sending out such a strong, friendly and positive message. I felt a sense of pride that everyone was united and everything had came together.”
The act of solidarity, which was welcomed and shared on social media by many other teams and fans at the same event, has drawn attention in The Scottish Parliament too, with Mary Fee, Labour MSP for West of Scotland, submitting a motion recognising the efforts of fans and teams involved. She told us:
“It was fantastic to see the strong stance taken by the Glasgow Clan fans to promote equality in ice hockey. They are a credit to the club and the EIHL. Fans must be at the heart of promoting tolerance and inclusiveness to make sports available to all, free from discrimination of race, religion, sex, gender or disability.”
There was even support from the popular team mascots, with Lightning Jack from Manchester Storm, Paws the Panther from Nottingham Panthers and Geordie Munro from Fife Flyers all joining in with the rainbow theme.
Glasgow’s Clangus the Coo was dressed to impress with a colourful rainbow outfit on during the weekend too. Clangus was proud to take part and told us:
“This has to be one of the biggest statements Clan fans have made at any game. I was initially disappointed to read a harsh homophobic comment in response to our theme this year, so I decided to respond. Fans from all teams united and we decided it was time to prove that hockey is a sport for everyone, regardless of gender, race, age etc.”
“As the Clans mascot, I am proud to have represented our team walking in the Glasgow Pride parade for the past 2 years with our staff and fans. I believe it’s important to show that life is evolving and is far more complex than we saw in previous centuries.”
“I was so proud to be part of this display and I’m proud of every one of the fans that took part or supported. They are my hockey family and no matter what team you support, your hockey family is important. It’s not the first time we’ve all stood together and it wont be the last.”
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