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georges laraque

Former Pro Hockey Player Dons Drag and Lip Syncs ‘I Will Always Love You’ to Show How Stupid Homophobia Is

Georges Laraque thinks it’s dumb to be homophobic, and he put his money where his mouth is recently donning drag and lip-synching to one of the greatest divas of all time.

Laraque, who was an enforcer for the Edmonton Oilers, won a Montreal Pride drag contest on August 10 by performing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in a $1,500 wedding dress. (Unable to find heels that fit his size 14 feet, Laraque wore sandals.) With styling and makeup help from local drag star Miss Butterfly, Laraque wnabbed the contest’s $1,000 prize, which he promptly donated back to Montreal Pride.

“Here is my drag queen look at last night’s [Montreal Pride party] that I won thanks to Miss Butterfly’s great work!” he posted on Instagram “In 2018, it is inconceivable that we must all fight against homophobia again. And personally it’s with pleasure that I join this cause!”

The 6’3 athlete played for a variety of teams — including the Oilers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens — before retiring in 2010. Today he’s a commentator for TVA Sports and executive director of the fledgling Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association. Laraque says he didn’t think twice when Montreal Pride organizers asked him to enter the contest.

“There are things in the world that are more important than worrying about your image all the time,” Laraque, 41, told the Edmonton Star. “And if public figures don’t take part in the fight, how are things going to change?’

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George Laraque on the ice before retiring in 2010.

“There are many people that still suffer today different types of discrimination just because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s stupid in 2018,” he added. “It’s one thing to say you are supportive, but I’ve always liked to do it in action.”

Georges Laraque wasn’t the only Canadian player speaking up for queers this week: In an interview Anders Nilsson of the Vancouver Canucks lashed out at homophobia in sport, saying it was rampant when he started playing hockey as a kid.

“Saying things like, ‘Are you a faggot or what?’, ‘fucking fag fuck’ or ‘fairy’ was not out of the ordinary back then. That’s the jargon, and it was so accepted [normalized], and that’s probably still the case. But the difference today is that this would never happen in a team of adults.”

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But the damage is done, Nilsson adds, because young victims will drop out of hockey before they reach the majors. “If I were gay, I’d quit playing hockey in my teens. When people say there’s three to four gay guys on each team, I think, ‘No, absolutely not. They quit when they were children.’”

The net result is that the league loses out on players “who might otherwise have been the next Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid or Wayne Gretzky.”

While neither an active nor retired NHL player has ever come out as gay, the league has been at the forefront of supporting LGBT visibility: NHL players and teams joined Pride parades long before other leagues began to. A number, like Nillson, put rainbow tape on their sticks.

Brian Burke, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and of the US Olympic hockey team, launched the You Can Play Project encouraging LGBT inclusion in sports, after the 2010 death of his son Brendan, who was the manager of Miami University’s men’s ice hockey team.

Do you think Georges Laraque and Anders Nilsson are indicative of where pro hockey is at right now?