Stop citing religion as a basis for homophobia

If you respected the LGBTQIA+ community you wouldn’t defend Provorov

Written By Kayla Sterner, Co-Sports Editor

A few weeks ago the Philadelphia Flyers hosted a Pride Night to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, but of course, one player, defensemen Ivan Provorov, refused to participate in the pregame skate, and cited his religion as the basis for his homophobia.

Provorov, a Russian Orthodox, is apparently offended by the rainbows that decorated the Flyers’ pregame jerseys and sticks. 

“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.” 

I struggle to comprehend how you can respect someone but refuse to support them. You do not respect us if you can’t even do the bare minimum to show support. You’re just saving face.

He was the only player from the Flyers to refuse to wear the jersey. And then, head coach John Tortorella defended him, claiming he was just being true to himself and true to his religion.

Why are we defending homophobia and making it seem as though refusing to accept people that are different than us is a redeemable quality? It’s 2023, why are we still using religion to defend outdated and harmful beliefs?

“Provy did nothing wrong,” Tortorella said. “Just because you don’t agree with his decision, doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”

However, he did do something wrong. His refusal to participate gives the impression that homophobia is acceptable, especially considering no one from the NHL or the Flyers organization spoke out against his actions.

On top of that, Provorov also broke a clause in his contract, which states that the player must, 

“Cooperate with the Club and participate in any and all reasonable promotional activities of the Club which will in the opinion of the Club promote the welfare of the Club and to cooperate in the promotion of the League and professional hockey generally.”

This arguably means that if the Flyers claim he did not break his contract, they do not deem Pride Night to be a reasonable ask and they do not deem acceptance as promoting welfare. Keep in mind that Wells Fargo Center, which is where the Flyers play, was the first arena to threaten fans with ejection for using gay slurs.

Whether intentional or not, his lack of support and the organization defending Provorov’s homophobic beliefs causes more harm than good to the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those that are young hockey fans. Members of the LGBTQIA+ were just shown that the National Hockey League does not care to stop homophobia, they just want to seem progressive to boost ticket sales.

A Flyers spokesperson said the team is “committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community,” according to Hockey Insider Frank Seravalli.  

If you truly care about us, you would not have let Provorov take the ice after refusing to participate in warmups. People who truly care about making the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcomed would not make a statement claiming that he did nothing wrong and they certainly would not encourage harmful perspectives to be spread.

I am so sick and tired of organizations pretending to accept people like me just to bring in more revenue. We aren’t just another niche for you to market to, we are people that continue to be let down by people in power when our community is struck with homophobia and transphobia. 

If you’re an ally, prove it. Actions speak louder than words.