SAN JOSE — James Reimer will not participate in the San Jose Sharks’ pregame warmups tonight, saying the Pride-themed jerseys team members are planning to wear to show support of the LGBTQIA+ community runs counter to his personal religious convictions.
Reimer, a devout Christian, said he came to the decision earlier this week.
The Sharks organization earlier this week announced a host of activities that revolve around their Pride Night celebration, including wearing warmup jerseys with specific crest and patch artwork designed to show acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Reimer, who is not scheduled to play Saturday when the Sharks host the New York Islanders, will not take part in the team’s usual pregame warmups.
“I get what the message is. I think people are trying to show support to the community and I’m sure people in the community feel marginalized,” Reimer said Saturday afternoon. “So it’s people trying to come along (with) them in a public way and support them. For me, to some extent, that’s what you want to do is you want to love them.
“But what I’m saying is where it intersects for a Christian and the way I personally and the people close to me in my life interpret the bible is you love them, but you can’t support the activity or lifestyle.”
Kurt Weaver, chief operations officer for the You Can Play Project, said he was disappointed with Reimer’s decision.
“Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” Weaver’s statement said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”
The mission of the You Can Play Project, which has worked with the NHL for 11 years, per its website, is to “ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes.”
“In the well-chosen words of Brian Burke, “In other words: As disappointed as I am, it’s important that people realize these are setbacks of a minor nature, in my view, in terms of where we are versus where we were 12 years ago. And I don’t think anyone should lose sight of that.”
The Sharks, in a statement, said, “Continuing a long-standing commitment of allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community, Sharks Sports & Entertainment is extremely proud to host our 2023 Sharks Pride Night. This week’s events, culminating with tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, reinforce our organization’s values and dedication to an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment for all guests in each of our venues.
“As we promote these standards, we also 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.
“As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”
Please check back for updates to this developing story.