While the NHL and other organizations have been making an effort to improve their efforts to reach out beyond their traditional base of support, hockey isn’t known as being the most diverse sport out there. This is why it’s important for players and team executives to make efforts to reach out to communities that aren’t well represented in the hockey community.
With that in mind, fans of the Washington Capitals have probably noticed how their star goaltender, Braden Holtby, has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community over the years. As Capital Pride took over the streets of DC this weekend with a parade and various other events held throughout the weekend, Holtby once again made it clear he supports gay rights and was out participating in the parade with his wife on Saturday.
Holtby’s work with the LGBT community isn’t just limited to showing up for the Pride parade every year. His support for LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has dated back to at least very early in his marriage after he visited a museum dedicated to Harvey Milk while on his honeymoon with his wife in San Francisco. Milk was one of the first openly gay people elected to public office (he was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) and was eventually assassinated by one of his fellow board members. The museum there now also serves as a resource center for HRC and the Holtbys spent hours talking with the organization’s volunteers during their visit to the site.
In addition to marching in parades, the goaltender also spoke at the HRC dinner last year (with three of his teammates also in attendance) after celebrating a Stanley Cup Championship with his teammates prevented him from showing up to Capital Pride in June. Plus, he plays a big role in Hockey is for Everyone when it’s held every February and has done work with You Can Play.
It should be noted that Holtby’s support for the LGBT community isn’t just something he’s been doing as part of some PR effort by the Washington Capitals. During the couple’s visit to the Harvey Milk center on their honeymoon, they picked up HRC bumper stickers for their cars (the blue and yellow equal signs that can be seen all around town). After his landscaper saw the bumper stickers, he invited the hockey player to the organization’s annual fundraising dinner. Holtby showed up as an individual supporter back in 2015, not a representative of the Capitals. In the years since, however, Holtby’s visibility on the issue of gay rights has increased and so has the efforts of the Caps as he’s consistently making public appearances in support of LGBT rights on behalf of the team.
All in all, champions of diversity argue that Holtby’s involvement in the fight for LGBT rights means a lot to the community. It’s always good to see organizations standing up for equality, but it means a lot more to the general public when it’s a player taking the lead on the issue instead of some front office personnel. That’s especially the case when the player’s one of the top goaltenders in the NHL like Holtby.