(UPDATE: Check the end of the post to read about how these two were ejected from their seats.)
The bright pink T-shirts were eye-catching enough. Add blue wigs, costume jewelry and the words "Hockey Luvin Homo," and the two fans seated behind the Vancouver Canucks' bench in their win over the Los Angeles Kings found immediate celebrity status on Thursday night.
Digital recorders were rewound. Screen caps were created and emailed through the hockey fan community. The Royal Half, a Kings blog, posted their image; Deadspin made their image the first post of Friday morning with the headline: "It Took A Self-Proclaimed 'Hockey Luvin Homo' To Make A Canucks-Kings Game Noteworthy."
"We thought there might be some reaction to the wearing of those T-shirts behind the bench, but had no idea that the Internet would buzz like it has," said "Henrietta," the large-armed HLH whose shirt made it into several camera shots with Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault.
So who are the Hockey Luvin Homos, and why did they make their presence known at last night's Canucks game?
The most prominent question asked about these fans: Was this a goof?
Was this a joke at the expense of the gay community in hockey and the city?
No, said Henrietta and Daniella, who requested that their real names be withheld. (Their monikers have been mockingly used to criticize Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the past for soft play, as in the first comment here.)
Henrietta said they're both gay and have been "ardent Canuck fans for many long suffering years." On his Facebook page, there are images of his attendance during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place.
"We have made appearances at Gay Sports Bars in Vancouver as the Sisters ... Henrietta and Daniella with great hilarity and support. This was not a stunt or done to be rude or offensive. We were there to show our and the Vancouver Gay community's total and absolute support of our Canucks as they took the Presidents [Trophy] and begin their journey to the Stanley Cup," wrote Henrietta in an email.
Daniella obtained the tickets for his friend Henrietta's 50th birthday, and the two decided to create a spectacle with their attire. Inside the arena, they posed for photos with other fans and with families, at first covering the word "Homo" with silver tape with a Vancouver logo on it.
"We held back the word 'Homo' for the first two periods until we gauged the reaction of the crowd to our costumes, not wanting to be offensive," said Henrietta.
In the third period, the tape was removed:
"With the overwhelming support of the fans at the game and a good lead by the team, we thought that the moment had arrived," said Henrietta. "The Canucks themselves didn't seem to mind as we saw a few chuckles on the bench as they noticed us."
Sure, as you can read in these comments if you dare, homosexuality is a divisive topic. But bold, campy, kitschy … whatever the description, this fashion statement struck many puckheads as absolutely hilarious last night.
Since we had the ear of an expert in these matters, we couldn't help but ask: Is there one Vancouver player that the Canucks fans in the gay community deem to be the most eye-catching?
"We view them all as the skilled and determined athletes that they are, not as individuals of erotic objectification," said Henrietta.
"Now that Kyle Wellwood … there's a man in need of some Good Vancouver Gay Luvin," he continued. "With the right man, maybe he could be made to stop his yappin' about things he knows nothing about."
So sayeth the Hockey Luvin Homos.
Thanks to 'Cussy' for the Jersey Foul image at the top.
UPDATE: We've heard a few reports that the HLHs were removed from their seats during the game by arena security staff. We asked Henrietta about it; he said, "Really nothing to add. Thanks for your support."
UPDATE (10:04 p.m. EST): The Vancouver Sun confirms with the Canucks that the HLHs were ejected from their seats:
The Vancouver Canucks issued a statement today saying the young men were removed from the arena after they were asked — but refused — to cover the derogatory term for gays.
"Canucks Sports & Entertainment is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for all guests who enter into Rogers Arena," said the Canucks statement.
"The public use of any derogatory terms targeted at a specific group of people, whether based on ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is strictly prohibited. In an effort to ensure all of our guests have a positive experience it was requested that two guests cover a derogatory term on their shirts. After refusing to do so, further discussion was had between staff and the guests, which led to eviction."
Not sure what's more outlandish: That "homo" is a derogatory term or that these were "young men."