On Saturday, Sharks goaltender James Reimer refused to take part in the team’s warm-up skate before its home loss to the New York Rangers, because his teammates wore jerseys that support the LGBTQIA+ community.
The Sharks were wearing the jerseys for their Pride Night, which featured a Pride crest and a “Love Wins” patch. The jerseys were to be auctioned off after the game for charity to raise funds for Adolescent Counseling Services.
Reimer did not play in the game. He says he refused to take part because of his Christian beliefs.
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title but in how I choose to live my daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and to follow Him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness,” Reimer said in a statement that he read to reporters.
“In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life. I strongly believe that every person has value and worth and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”
According to ESPN, Reimer began discussions with the team regarding Pride Night a year ago. While Pride Nights across the league and throughout sports have become commonplace, the organization has supported Reimer’s decision not to participate.
“We acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”
Confusing things a bit is that Reimer said he does not have an issue with teams that use rainbow-colored Pride tape on sticks instead of wearing jerseys. He believes one is more of an extreme show of support than the other.
“Some guys don’t do the tape and some guys do. (The tape) is not as mandatory or in your face. So when it comes to jerseys, then it’s definitely more of a decision and it kind of amounts to something like this if you choose not to wear the jersey,” Reimer said after practice. “When I saw other teams starting to wear jerseys, I knew that would intersect with my Christian faith.”
Reimer said that he realizes this decision could affect his future with the team.
“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t something that crossed my mind honestly,” Reimer said. “I’m sure there’s people in management or ownership that won’t look favorably on this. At the same time, I hope that there’s another handful of people in management or ownership that respect me for standing up for what I believe in and that’s a big part of who I am.”