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Artist’s Irregular Newfoundland Hockey League spins a new yarn to address homophobia in sports

Artist’s Irregular Newfoundland Hockey League spins a new yarn to address homophobia in sports

Lucas Morneau’s artistic sequence creates imaginary hockey teams via crocheting and rug hooking, with one jersey recently acquired by The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural space.

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Lucas Morneau’s St. John’s Sissies hockey jersey has been acquired by The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural space in St. John’s. Morneau crocheted and rug-zigzag the jersey, using wool as smartly as pantyhose from drag queens. (Submitted by Lucas Morneau)

Ever heard of the St. John’s Sissies? The Corner Brook Queens? The Arrive By Chance Flamers?

In the event you are strictly a sports fan, probably no longer. But these fictional teams and their creator skewer traditional hockey tropes and offer up a campy alternative world identified as the Irregular Newfoundland Hockey League.

The league is the brainchild of artist Lucas Morneau, who has created 14 teams in total, each with a jersey crocheted and rug zigzag in retro colors and detailed emblems from across Newfoundland and Labrador — from the Nain Nancys to the Ferryland Fairies — along with hockey “cards” of players and textile goalie masks.

Growing up in Corner Brook, hockey was always on TV in Morneau’s home. He recalled happily watching broadcasts as a kid, particularly the Coach’s Corner commentary and its opinionated host, Don Cherry, however his enthusiasm faded as he got older.

“After I grew up, extra and extra, I became extra aware of the variety of language that was being ancient by Don that variety of belittled or demasculinated a lot of players — calling players who refused to battle, fancy, ‘sissies’ and ‘pansies,'” said Morneau, who now lives in Sackville, N.B.

“And that really got to bother me as I grew up and variety of came to realize I was peculiar myself.”

When Cherry was fired from Coach’s Corner in 2019 for anti-immigrant comments, Morneau came across inspiration.

“I wanted to essentially find a way that I may talk about these points with homophobia within sports — and especially as smartly with a hegemonic masculinity — and how that affects the mental health of players as smartly as fans,” he told CBC Radio’s Weekend AM.

The Arrive By Chance Flamers are certainly one of 14 fictional teams created by Morneau for his Irregular Newfoundland Hockey League as a way to talk about homophobia in sports. He began crocheting the jerseys in the winter of 2020. (Submitted by Lucas Morneau)

Morneau began crocheting the jerseys in the winter of 2020, and his work has now been identified by The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural space. It acquired his St. John’s Sissies jersey, created with wool and pantyhose from drag queens, for its series.

“It was a tough alternative,” said Mireille Eagan, The Rooms’ curator of contemporary art, about which team to take. The alternative committee ultimately landed on the Sissies jersey for its connection to Cherry’s language.

“Lucas Morneau is adopting that duration of time, and he is embracing that duration of time and he is making that a noteworthy duration of time,” she said.

“So that’s why this work matters. It be a shift, or no longer it is a itsy-bitsy shift and a fundamental shift in views around the sport of hockey and around ideas of masculinity and culture in general.”

Spoofs and social opinions

Already smartly versed in crocheting earlier than tackling the QNHL— Morneau has crocheted drag queen-mummer costumes, among diverse previous works — he added in rug-hooking abilities for his textile take on team sports. Halfway via the mission, it was so consuming that he hired an assistant, Libbie Farrell, to collaborate and finish the work.

His QNHL repeatedly makes use of humour to make a point. His logo for the François Fruits, for example, features a goofy pineapple reminiscent of the talking version from the Téléfrançais! young of us TV indicate of the 1980s, alongside a word repeatedly ancient as a homophobic slur.

Morneau’s dollops of camp humour are efficient, Eagan said.

“It kind of softens the blow of significant social dialogue and serious social critique, via humour, and so it makes it an easier tablet to swallow,” she said.

Morneau said his family in Corner Brook have been supportive at some point of his mission. “They savor it,” he said.

His father typically helped him capture potential team names, he said, whereas his grandfather — in his 90s — would repeatedly laugh at the implications.

“It was something that brought my family together, even supposing it was fairly a tough area,” Morneau said.

Morneau grew up in Corner Brook and now lives in Sackville, N.B. He says the mission ‘was something that brought my family together, even supposing it was fairly a tough area.’ (Submitted by Lucas Morneau)

The QNHL also caused a bit of reckoning within Morneau’s family, he said, as relatives realized one of the vital most words they ancient in another era’s casual conversation “are actually pejoratives that are rooted in homophobia, that they use themselves no longer knowing the history of these words,” he said.

Morneau pointed to the Bonavista Buggers jersey as an example, with that duration of time typically ancient to refer to someone pestering someone else, “however really, or no longer it is a homophobic attack,” he said.

“And I think making of us aware of certain terms and their history is an important part of this mission as smartly.”

The changing world of professional sports

Morneau’s crocheting critique extends to ideas about what professional athletes can and can’t say.

“Players aren’t really allowed to talk about their mental health points, about their personal struggles — whether or no longer it is their sexuality, family points, and many others.,” he said.

“And I think or no longer it is important to originate up the the atmosphere around the players to be certain that that that they really feel comfortable being themselves. Because if [you’re] no longer comfortable being your self and you are feeling such as you have to hide everything, you accurate internalize stuff. And that accurate makes everything worse.”

In June, Nashville Predators draft capture Luke Prokop became the first NHL player beneath contract to reach out as gay. That, alongside diverse efforts within professional sports — such as the You Can Play organization that promotes LGBTQ athletes and allyship — indicate some gleaming spots and development, Morneau said.

“I think there is a larger conversation that’s happening with sports culture. And for it to be triumphant in the future, it wants to turn into extra inclusive,” he said. “Because otherwise, or no longer it is really going to shut itself off to a very small neighborhood of of us.”

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Artist’s Irregular Newfoundland Hockey League spins a new yarn to address homophobia in sports