Light Up the Lamp doesn't exist in our reality. There's no (as of now) NHL team in San Francisco, or in Baltimore for that matter, and that's small potatoes to the other changes I made as I created this novel.
No NHL team has a female head coach, and as far as I know no trans men are or have been GMs. And as of when I'm writing this in May, 2023, there are no current out NHL players (one has been drafted, but he hasn't played an NHL game yet, and there have been other professional queer players but not in the NHL).
I so hope that this blog post becomes a sign of its time. That when you stumble upon this years from now, it's a reminder of what life used to be like and thankfully isn't anymore. Instead, your TVs are full of queer athletes among the upper echelon of all of our sports leagues, that pride nights at arenas are celebrations of ourselves and each other, and that we frown upon the current discourse as archaic, distasteful, and so thankfully behind us.
But for now, we're living in a time where NHL pride nights are at jeopardy, players are refusing to take the ice in pride jerseys for warmups, and professional sports, especially hockey, remain a distant dream for queer inclusion.
Getting to write my own books is one way I can sort through my disappointment, my fears, and my dread over the way support for pride is trending among professional leagues. In my stories, locker rooms are safe, the San Francisco Sea Lion's management makes their stance incredibly clear, and there's no issue on the team with anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
And it's really, really fun to write. Gil thinks what he thinks of Frank, but at no point is it because Frank is trans. Mitcher plays the villain in this story, and I guess if you squint you can make an argument he outs Gil... except Gil's never in the closet, because he doesn't have to be. Gil's into men, half the team is into men, Mitcher's probably into men too, and the real crux of Mitcher being an ass is him driving a wedge between Steph and Gil, so that Gil doesn't outshine him on the ice. It's a good old sports rivalry, where these guys can duke it out to be the star player, no matter who they want to kiss.
In my writing, I get to create a world where professional hockey players don't have homophobic issues in their day to day life. Do problems exist? Yes, absolutely, which Gil thinks of a few times over the course of the book. There are teams that are behind the times, locker room cultures that haven't caught up to where San Francisco is, but the Sea Lions are a delightfully inclusive and welcoming team to play for.
This world of hockey I've created is the same as the team I skate on. Most of us are queer and it's an incredible group of folks who I desperately, absolutely hope never find this book because they will roast me to tears of embarrassment, and I will end up in a puddle on a gross locker room floor laughing so hard I can't breathe.
Let's hope that the future of hockey continues to be teams chirping each other, friends having fun, and anyone and everyone falling in love. That's not the reality we live today, but I have hope for a changing world. Already there are professional players outspoken about queer rights, there are journalists pushing the conversation onwards, and there are teams that don't compromise on their promise to the queer community on the national stage. Until this is the norm, join me as a fan of the Sea Lions as a respite from the world we live in, and let's all enjoy a slice of hockey where we all get to be exactly who we are.