The Toronto Maple Leafs’ decision to allow a movie about two gay men raising a child to use its name and logo has sparked attacks from rightwing Christian groups across North America.
“How many fans like the idea of the Leafs and the NHL (which hasn’t said anything to oppose this movie endorsement) being in the business of paedophilia peddling?” asks the Calgary-based Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC) on its website.
In November the professional hockey team announced it would allow the movie Breakfast With Scot, by gay director Laurie Lynd, to use the historic Maple Leafs logo and name. The movie, loosely based on the book of the same name by Michael Downing, is about a gay ex-Maple Leafs player in a relationship with the team’s lawyer. The two become the guardians of Scot, described in a press release by the movie-makers as “a budding queen of an 11-year-old boy.”
The movie, which has just finished filming, stars Canadian actor Tom Cavanaugh — best known for the US TV series Ed and the “I am Canadian” beer commercials — as the gay hockey player. Members of the Leafs organization, from Richard Peddie, the president of Leafs’ owners Maple Leaf Sports And Entertainment (MLSE), and past captains Darryl Sittler and Rick Vaive to current captain Mats Sundin, have spoken up in favour of the movie.
But some religious groups are up in arms. Both CFAC and the Illinois-based organization Americans For Truth, which claims to be dedicated to “exposing and countering the homosexual agenda,” have posted Peddie’s e-mail address on their websites to encourage their members to challenge the Leafs’ support of the movie.
Both websites posted an article from LifeSiteNews.com, which is run by the Toronto-based Campaign Life Coalition. The article accuses the moviemakers and the Leafs of changing the story from that in the original book so they can use hockey to wipe out antigay feeling in the frozen North.
“As a work of homosexual propaganda, the film is clearly meant to target the last vestiges of resistance to normalized homosexuality among Canadians. In the book, the homosexual couple lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and are a chiropractor and magazine editor; hockey does not figure at all.”
The article also attacks the portrayal of an 11-year-old boy as gay.
“The homosexualist ideology asserts that the condition is natural and unchangeable and therefore that children can be born with it and have it be part of their normal sexual development. The depiction of an 11-year-old boy as a homosexual might be more than audiences are willing to accept.”
CFAC executive director Brian Rushfeldt did not reply to Xtra’s request for an interview, but he told the Los Angeles Times in February that Breakfast With Scot was “another attempt to normalize homosexual behaviour and [the moviemakers] assume the Maple Leafs will help the cause.”
John Lashway, senior vice- president of communications and community development for MLSE, says negative e-mails from antigay religious types have not changed the organization’s mind. He says the general public seems very supportive of the decision.
“The e-mails we’ve been getting have been three-to-one in favour of our getting involved.”
Lashway says MLSE wasn’t worried about backlash when it decided to lend the Leafs’ name and logo to the film.
“When we first entered into this we didn’t think about people’s reaction nor, frankly, about what people thought. When we make a trade, we don’t do a poll. We do what we think is right.”