As usual, Marie-Philip Poulin showed impeccable timing. Ditto Laura Stacey.
It’s unlikely to stall what appears to be a systemic attack on all things LGBT(etc.), but the two members of Canada’s national women’s hockey team delivered a note of high joy on Friday by announcing their engagement, and I suppose if anyone writes the Poulin-Stacey love story the Book Police will goose step forward and demand it be removed from library and school shelves.
The banning of books, of course, is a long-used weapon in the arsenal of forces that have mobilized against the LGBT(etc.) collective, but it is being unholstered more frequently, some say at an alarming and worrisome rate.
It is a Triple-P offensive—parents, pastors, politicians—meant to keep LGBT(etc.)-themed books beyond the reach of our youth, for fear they might discover the existence of people who don’t fit the cookie-cutter model preferred by the puritans.
I call it Tooth Fairy-ism.
The Triple P people tell their kids about the Tooth Fairy and how he/she magically appears to leave money under the pillow in exchange for a fallen ivory, but they don’t dare let them learn that gay people exist. Reality be damned. The less gay literature available, the less likely our children are to be "groomed" or "brainwashed" seems to be the prevailing logic. Better that they believe in the Tooth Fairy.
Yet what are they to do about Poulin and Stacey?
They can have every book on every shelf in every library or school removed and it won’t erase the reality that the two women are gay and plan to wed. Our youth will know about it because they have the Internet in the palms of their hands. They read and some of them probably still watch TV. Many among them also watch and read about sports, so they know Poulin and Stacey are Olympic Games and world champion hockey players. They know about Marie-Philip’s knack for scoring winning goals (2010, 2014, 2022 Olympics, 2021 world tournament), and that she’s Canada’s reigning female athlete-of-the-year.
Perhaps they were unaware that she’s gay, but not after Friday morning when both Poulin and Stacey posted news of their engagement on social media, with pics.
Those glad tidings came at a moment in time when the LGBT(etc.) collective needed a pick-me-up.
Aside from book bans, there’s been a growing anti-LGBT(etc.) sentiment in sports, notably the National Hockey League, whereby seven players—Ilya Samsonov, James Reimer, Eric and Marc Staal, Ivan Provorov, Ilya Lyubushkin, Andrei Kuzmenko, Denis Gurianov—refused to participate in Pride night activities this season due to either religious beliefs or Russia’s gay propaganda laws (or so they said). Meantime, four franchises—New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild—backtracked on plans to have players wrap themselves in rainbow-themed jerseys during warmup.
It was confirmation that the NHL’s trademark rallying cry of "hockey is for everyone" is a bogus bit of business.
More recently, former NHLer Andrew Shaw gave voice to the Raw Knuckles Podcast and victim blamed one-time Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach for falling prey to sexual advances and assault by video coach Brad Aldrich. The way Shaw has it figured, Beach "put himself in the wrong position." (Shaw, we should point out, was also once suspended for spewing a homophobic slur directed at an on-ice official.)
It’s all rather tawdry stuff, but now we have Poulin and Stacey to deliver the warm-and-fuzzies.
Same-sex partnerships/marriages are not rare among female athletes, and hockey seems to be the clubhouse leader for gay unions. We’ve already had Gillian Apps-Meghan Duggan, Caroline Ouellette-Julie Chu and Jayna Hefford-Kathleen Kauth exchange vows, and now Poulin-Stacey are heading down the aisle.
Moreover, the Canadian national team is a beacon for diversity and inclusiveness. Every time they step on the ice it’s a Pride night. The outfit that claimed gold at the 2022 Olympic Games featured seven out lesbians—Brianne Jenner, Erin Ambrose, Emily Clark, Melodie Daoust, Jill Saulnier, Jamie Lee Rattray, Micah Zandee-Hart—so we can add Poulin and Stacey to that roll call.
It stands as the gayest group of athletes to win gold in any Olympics, in any sport.
If the book banners have their way, kids will no longer be able to read about these athletic role models in school or at the library, but that won’t make them less real of less visible.
Who they are and what they’ve accomplished can’t be erased or undone by the fanatics convinced there’s a global-wide gay agenda to hijack the minds of kids from kindergarten to high school.
Tooth Fairy-ism is a real thing, except it doesn’t deal in reality.
Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey, on the other hand, are real. Delightfully real.