Sean Avery, who appeared in a PSA supporting
marriage equality in New York this spring and who was publicly criticized by a sports agent for speaking out about legalizing gay marriage, was called a homophobic slur by Flyer Wayne Simmonds during the first period of their pre-season game on Monday.
In a video replay, Simmonds is seen hollering the insult Avery’s way from the bench. “To be here now having to answer the questions about what he did is disappointing for me. I’m disappointed for him,” Avery tells ESPN.
He’s not sure what he said beforehand that spurred Simmonds’ hate. “Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while there,” Simmonds
said. “I don’t recall everything that I did say to him but he said to me
some things I didn’t like and maybe I said some things that he didn’t
like. I can’t recall every single word I said.”
The Flyers’ coach said, “It was a couple of guys battling out there.”
“Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink,” GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson says in a statement. “The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
Avery hopes that, as Kobe Bryant was, Simmonds will be disciplined for his language. “It’s an issue,” he says. “It’s an issue that people are dealing with
and trying to overcome and ten years ago, maybe it wasn’t so much an
issue but it’s certainly an issue politically with people in the game.
And just in life in general.”