At least one man was thrown out of the Rogers Arena on March 31 after a confrontation with arena staff who asked him to cover up his “Hockey Luvin Homo” pink T-shirt.
The incident occurred during the Vancouver Canucks–Los Angeles Kings game, which the Canucks won to clinch first place in the regular season.
“We have a very strict policy that anything derogatory towards any ethnicity or any sexual orientation or religious-based group — that’s grounds for eviction,” a Canucks media spokesperson told Xtra on April 1.
“Canucks Sports & Entertainment is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for all guests who enter into Rogers Arena,” an April 1 press release states.
“In an effort to ensure all of our guests have a positive experience, we requested that two guests cover a derogatory term on their shirts. It was requested that the term be covered with another piece of clothing,” the release continues.
“After refusing to do so, further discussion was had between staff and the guests, which led to eviction.”
Canucks chief operating officer Victor de Bonis directed Xtra to a YouTube video that showed one of the men removing a piece of tape from his shirt, and tugging it down slightly to fully reveal the word homo. That the men obscured the word homo implied that “there was an issue, because they were covering it up themselves,” de Bonis suggests.
“I’m not there in their minds to assess the situation but what they believed to be concern about the issue, it was reinforced by what they were doing — which was covering it up,” he says.
When staff approached the men and asked them to cover up the word, the situation escalated, de Bonis says. At least one of the men allegedly became aggressive and was asked to leave, de Bonis continues, adding he doesn’t know if the second man left too. He also doesn’t know if the two “Hockey Luvin Homos” are gay.
But a yahoo.ca blog, Puck Daddy, paints the incident in more harmless, humorous terms. In an interview on the blog, the two men — whose T-shirts read “Henrietta” and “Daniella” on the back — reportedly told author Greg Wyshynski they are gay and longstanding Canuck fans.
Wyshynski indicated that the two men, who also wore blue wigs, shiny beads and bangles, didn’t want to reveal their real names.
“We have made appearances at Gay Sports Bars in Vancouver as the Sisters … Henrietta and Daniella with great hilarity and support,” Henrietta reportedly told Wyshynski in an email. “This was not a stunt or done to be rude or offensive. We were there to show our and the Vancouver Gay community’s total and absolute support of our Canucks as they took the Presidents [Trophy] and begin their journey to the Stanley Cup,” the email says.
“We held back the word ‘homo’ for the first two periods until we gauged the reaction of the crowd to our costumes, not wanting to be offensive,” Henrietta reportedly told the blogger, who notes they removed the tape in the game’s third period.
The support and good humour of the fans and some of the hockey players who saw the men encouraged them to remove the tape from their shirts, they say.
Wyshynski says he asked the two if they could pinpoint a Canuck player the gay community found “eye-catching.”
“We view them all as the skilled and determined athletes that they are, not as individuals of erotic objectification,” Henrietta reportedly replied.
De Bonis says the eviction had nothing to do with the word homo, reiterating that it was for safety reasons because of the aggressive posture of one of the men. “Maybe there’s uncertainty about whether [the word was] inappropriate or not,” de Bonis says, adding that staff were going to “defer on the safe side, because you don’t know.
“I don’t know if they meant to be offensive or not,” he admits.
De Bonis says neither man has communicated with his office since the incident so far.
Staff have filed their reports about the incident, he adds. “We’ll interview everybody and understand what their perspectives were on the issue, and if there were things that were not done appropriately, we’ll address them,” de Bonis concludes.