American ice hockey forward, Matt Hendricks, who plays for Washington Capitals says it’s time to end homophobia in hockey arenas.
Hendricks is the latest celebrity to back the You Can Play project which encourages gay athletes to come out and their teammates to welcome them in its videos.
The Capitals also announced this week that they are supporting You Can Play.
The project endeavors to foster equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation.
When Hendricks heads into what is now his home locker room at the Washington Capitals he believes it is a welcoming place. He is now taking a stand to ensure all locker rooms, from youth leagues to the National Hockey League (NHL), become that way.
Hendricks told The Washington Post that during his hockey career a lot of hurtful words were bantered around in locker rooms that could have had harsh consequence for many of the players.
He said: ‘I think words are thrown around that people don’t necessarily understand the meanings of them, or the ramifications – what they could potentially do to someone’s feelings.
‘Hockey takes courage. It takes courage to block shots. It takes courage to pay the price in the corner or to fight for your teammates. It shouldn't take courage to go into your own locker room.
‘Looking back to when I was a younger player, before I got into the professional ranks, the slurs and the terminology that’s used in the locker rooms at a younger age isn’t necessarily out there to be malicious, but it definitely could be.’
The move by Hendricks and the Capitals follows local support for the movement by the George Washington University athletic department and DC United.
This comes in a month when pair of National Football League (NFL) players have vociferously supported gay marriage rights but also during a presidential election season when gay rights issues are on the ballot in four states.
And on its webpage says: ‘I’m taking a stand! Locker rooms should be safe and sports venues should be free from homophobia. Athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic, not sexual orientation.’
Watch Hendricks’ video here: