As a founding member of the Vancouver Cutting Edges Gay Hockey Club, Trevor MacNeil is seeing one of the last bastions of homophobia start to crumble thanks to You Can Play. The initiative-led by former Canucks general manager Brian Burke, in honour of his late son Brendan-is trying to change attitudes within the National Hockey League by welcoming gay players. "It will go a long way in breaking down some major barriers that have prevented previous players from coming out," says MacNeil, a 50-year old Delta resident who has been playing with the Cutting Edges since 1995.
The You Can Play campaign has the support of 30 NHL players including the Canucks Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin. Its motto is: "If you can play, then you can play."
How do opponents treat the Cutting Edges?
When we first started out at UBC, we told league officials we were a gay team. They were receptive and did their best to make us welcome, even informing other teams and the referee staff so that they would be aware any homophobic remarks directed towards our team would be treated the same way sexist or racist remarks would be. That is, they are unsportsmanlike and would not be tolerated, and could be subject to misconduct or other penalties.
To most of our opposing teams, it was really not an issue, even back in 1994. However, there is always a knucklehead or two.
What's the biggest misconception people have of the Cutting Edges?
Potential opponents think we're going to be pushovers. We're not. We play with a mix of skill, emotion, heart and tenacity, just like any other team and we have won as many or more games than we've lost.
Should the NHL ban fighting?
No. Even though I am not a fan of it at all, It's still a deterrent to keep opponents from purposely trying to injure your players if there is the fear of retribution. The problem in the NHL is the instigator rule, which seems to prevent players from starting the fight with that jerk that just tried to take your franchise players head off. There seems to be more injuries since that rule was introduced.
Why are there no openly gay NHL players?
Some players try to psych out opponents by using insults and slurs such as fag, homo, queer. It has been used for so long at many age levels that it is almost ingrained in some people's minds that being gay is actually a weakness, that you are somehow not normal. To admit to that would be unthinkable.
Do you believe there are gay NHL players?
Who is the best looking Canuck?
It's a toss up between Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond.
Being diagnosed HIV positive in June 1987. I was 25 years old. Back then it seemed like a death sentence.
I had my 50th birthday in February. I didn't think I would ever make it to 30. Now I'm a long time survivor.
Best life lesson?
If you don't like yourself, why would anyone else want to like you?
One thing you hate most about the world?
People wanting to kill others in the name of their all-loving god.
Three words to live by?
I like myself.
Lord of The Rings trilogy.
Favourite sports team?
The WHL's Vancouver Giants, great hockey, great value!