"Maybe it’s because when I was such a bully when I had my uniform on, that when I took it off I felt the need to stand up against the bully,"
That's how Sean Avery describes his decision to speak out in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in recent years. The former New York Rangers star, known for his agitating playing style as well as controversial behavior off the ice, discusses his LGBT advocacy stance at length in a Dec. 8 interview with the New York Daily News.
The 32-year-old, who publicly backed marriage equality in 2011, also claims to have been subjected to a number of anti-gay slurs in recent years. That same year, he was slammed by Wayne Simmons of the Philadelphia Flyers. Also, Avery pointed that the use of anti-gay language by players has yet to be addressed at the NHL labor negotiations.
“My belief is the responsibility lies with the leagues, the way they discipline players, the position they take and use it in every-day incidents," Avery, who is also a board member of Columbia University wrestling coach Hudson Taylor's Athlete Ally organization, noted. "One guy’ll get slapped with a fine, the next day nothing will happen. There needs to be consistency.”
Cyberspace, it seems, presents it own challenges.
“I get called a fag every day on the internet,” he told the Daily News. “You have to police it somehow.”