Chris Selley: James Reimer is more like a solution to homophobia than a problem
San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer, a 35-year-old native of Morweena, Man., has been showered with heck-of-a-guy compliments since before he even broke into the NHL. “One of the NHL’s nicest players.” “Just about the nicest 22-year-old on the planet.” “The nicest guy in Toronto sports.” (Reimer played six seasons for the Maple Leafs, who drafted him in 2006.)
Throughout Reimer’s career, fans have heard how he’s always smiling, always positive, the ideal teammate. They’ve heard about the orphanage in Uganda that he founded and funded with family members, in honour of a cousin who died of cancer. As a child, Reimer even heroically saved a friend from drowning.
Fans have also heard much about Reimer’s devout Christian faith. “When you focus on all the crap that’s going on around you, then you’re going to sink,” Reimer told the Toronto Star in 2011. “But if you focus on Jesus, in my case, then all those things seem to fade away … and you can do amazing things.”
As of Saturday, here’s what much of the hockey world is calling James Reimer: “Absolutely a homophobe,” “giant bigot,” “hateful,” “brainwashed.” On Twitter, University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley recalled seeing “blatant homophobia and transphobia” while growing up in Manitoba’s hockey barns, and accused Reimer of choosing “hate over compassion and understanding.” Reimer is “part of the problem,” Wesley added.
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