Can Gay Hockey Movie Help Gay Athletes Gain Acceptance?

By Walter Armstrong

The Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to allow the makers of a film to dress their actors in jerseys with the team's trademark blue-and-white maple leaf logo. The National Hockey League will also permit one scene to be shot during a team practice next week. And this is news because...?

Bingo! The movie, called Breakfast With Scot, is gay. Breakfast stars Tom Cavanaugh (Ed and Scrubs) as a homo ex-Leaf and Ben Scheckman (Angels in America and Just Like Heaven) as his lover and the team's lawyer "whose lives," according to gay blogger, "are turned upside down after they become guardians of Scot, 'a budding queen of an 11-year-old boy,' according to the storyline."

Cavanaugh, a popular Canadian actor, told the Toronto Star: "I never in a million years thought when we finally went to shooting we'd be donning Leaf sweaters. You have to give full credit to the NHL and the Leafs for signing on. It also shows the possibility for if someone were to come out, perhaps it wouldn't be as big a deal as we think."

Leading leafs, past and present, gave the logo lease a thumbs-up: Former player Darryl Settler, the team's all-time top scorer, told the Star, "Obviously, it's the real world we live in and I have no issues with it at all. To me, those things have come a long way and they should."

An "excited" Mats Sun din, the current Leaf captain, said, "There's never been a gay hockey player come out that I know of. I'm sure it's going to be talked about."

The Leafs' general manager, John Ferguson, however, warned that the team's gay-friendly move should not be read as having any political significance. "On our end, we're certainly not trying to make a statement," said Ferguson. "We agreed to host them and we're comfortable with it."

Still, the Leafs' homo hosting is certainly provoking statements. And if the 21 reader responses that the Toronto Star printed in answer to Monday's Question of the Day ("Do you think a comedy about a gay Leaf will help gay athletes gain acceptance?") are any indication, Canadians are not only comfortable but also downright enthusiastic about it.

The same is not true south of the border, though, where the Christian conservative press was quick to toot its horn of moral outrage. "They're going to alienate many, many people who take their kids to hockey games," said Bob Knight of the far-right Media Research Center. "The NHL, which is the epitome of masculinity, is being used to try to validate first the [film's] homosexual relationship and then extending it to transgender"—alluding to the fact that Scott, the 11-year-old character played in the film by Noah Barnett (Gothic), dons girls' clothes.

We can expect many more "statements" if and when Breakfast With Scot opens. How will the team's loyal international fan base that calls itself "The Leaf Nation" respond to an apparent endorsement of, as Knight puts it, "the film's radical homosexual agenda" donning its own beloved jerseys? Stay tuned. The tentative release date next year is...Christmas Day.