MONTREAL - Max Domi has never shied away from supporting the LGBTQ+ community, be it in the hockey world or elsewhere.
The Canadiens' leading scorer recently appeared on Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle and when asked for his thoughts on the matter, he declared in no uncertain terms that no one should be turned away from practicing the sport they love because they're different in any way.
"You know what, if you can play, you can play," Domi said, echoing the catch phrase of the You Can Play Project whose mission is to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. "And nowadays, in this era, there's no judgment across the board, for anything. Doesn't matter, sex, race, whatever it is. Everyone's welcome, everyone's got the same opportunity to do whatever they want."
This wasn't the first time Domi has voiced his support for LGBTQ+ people since joining the Habs, having posted well wishes to those celebrating Pride in the summer.
For the Canadiens centerman, supporting the cause is simply something that hits close to home.
"I have a lot of gay friends," Domi recounted on the show. "My ex-girlfriend was in the makeup industry and she has lots of gay friends, and I was surrounded with them, and I was like, 'This is awesome, this is so cool.'"
Sports locker rooms have not always been welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ athletes, but Domi believes he's witnessed an evolution towards more acceptance.
"No, not bullied at all. That's a respect thing. You don't cross that line," he said when asked if LGBTQ+ athletes might be given a hard time in the room. "No, I think everyone in the game would welcome them with open arms. And not just our sport, across the board. I think it would be amazing."
On Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canadiens held their LGBTQ+ Night at the Bell Centre. As the club's Hockey is for Everyone representative, Domi took the opportunity to meet with volunteers and youth involved with Gris-Montréal following the game.
In Domi's estimation, the sports world has come a long way towards openness and acceptance for LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities, and he's genuinely excited about the progress that's been made.
"It's such an amazing thing when you think about the fact that however many years ago, it wasn't like it was now and I'd like to think, and I hope, that there's going to be a gay hockey player in the NHL," Domi concluded with Radio-Canada. "There are sports out there that have guys who have opened up; it's awesome. I would be the first to welcome them. I think it's outstanding, and everyone is welcome to feel and want whatever they want."
To see Domi on Tout le monde en parle, click here (in French).
To bid on Canadiens rainbow gear worn during warmups on February 19 in support of Gris-Montreal and You Can Play, click here.