Niagara Falls Columnist Is Really, Really Afraid Of Gay People In Hockey

Yesterday we brought you a column from the Niagara Falls Reporter by one Lenny Palumbo, and Lenny had some ideas about hockey and manliness:

In spite of this, the league is determined to reduce fighting as much as possible. Meanwhile, the NHL's abominable, "You Can Play" promotion, which all but endorses homosexuality in hockey, is among its top priorities. Thanks to Gary Bettman and his ilk, enforcers are out, but gays are in. So why don't they just hire Elton John as commissioner and be done with it?

You Can Play is an independent initiative featuring athletes from all levels making it clear that sexual orientation shouldn't be a barrier to playing sports, that all people deserve the same respect. It is—or should be—a wholly uncontroversial cause. (Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in the Colorado movie theater shooting this morning, was managing You Can Play's effort to get hockey journalists to film their own PSAs.) You Can Play founders Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman released this statement regarding Palumbo's column:

"We are aware of the article and its contents. We see no reason to comment extensively on a poorly researched, written, and edited article in a small-town newspaper. Suffice it to say that there is nothing in the article of any merit. Many of the toughest players in hockey are proud supporters of You Can Play. We are tremendously proud to have the full and uncompromising support of the Buffalo Sabres organization, their captain Jason Pominville, and their wonderful and loyal fans. Sabres fans can expect to see more of their players in You Can Play videos as we move forward. In the meantime, we will continue on in our role as the hockey world's best enforcer, standing up for the defenseless when bullies attack them- on the ice, in the locker room, or in print."

You Can Play is content to take the high road. We are not. We've been sent a few of Palumbo's recent articles, and they make clear that his homophobia is far from an isolated incident.

From July 10:

The timing couldn't be better for the acquisition of Scott and Ott, as the Reporter was seriously considering calling on the NHL to craft special anti-bullying regulations to protect the timid Sabres from Bruin thugs like Lucic and Sean Thornton and other scary players in the league.

It was suggested the league's "You Can Play" propaganda project, which promotes homosexuality by addressing alleged homophobia among players, was actually targeting certain Sabres as poster boys.

From May 1, a photo caption:

These photos of Derek Roy (Top) and Nathan Gerbe (Bottom), with their pouty, unnatural poses, leave one wondering if they are hockey players or male, hairstyle models.

Even outside of hockey, Palumbo has railed against the "pro-gay agenda" of anti-bullying programs and "books that portray homosexuals and lesbians in a positive light."

If it sounds like Palumbo is closer to a kook with a poorly-Xeroxed newsletter than a professional columnist, well, that might not be too far off the mark. As documented by The Goose's Roost, Palumbo was a former school board member who got involved with some small-town politics, and ended up getting arrested and charged with stalking a teacher. The case was later dismissed, but while it was ongoing a mysterious series of tracts started to appear. The Vanguard, written and distributed anonymously, was filled with racist and homophobic material, and repeated personal attacks on Palumbo's enemies on the school board. Palumbo finally confirmed he had been one of two people behind the Vanguard.

Management at the Niagara Falls Reporter, a 22,000-circulation weekly, have not responded to multiple requests for comment on Palumbo.