Director Laurie Lyndsays he'sshocked by the hateful comments aimed at his"sweet film" about tolerance— Breakfast with Scot, or the "gay hockey movie" as it has been dubbed.
But if the movie can score at the box office as a result, Lynd says he doesn't mind.
In the movieplaying this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, Canadian actor Tom Cavanagh plays a gay former Toronto Maple Leaf who works as broadcaster for a major sports network.
Because of homophobia in the field, he decides to keep his personal life a secret but that all changes when his partner's flamboyant nephew, Scot, comes to live with the couple.
"It's the one hurdle that's left to be cleared and yet they're not even close to clearing it," said Cavanagh, the Ottawa-born actor who played the title character on the TV series Ed.
The NHL and the Leafs both gave permission for their logos to be used in the movie— a first for a gay-themed movie, according to the director.
"It was an easy decision," said John Lashway, a member of the Leafs' management team. "We have fans from all kinds of lifestyles, so it just made sense for us."
Negative online posts have already taken aim at the movie, with a couple ofright-wing U.S. groups contacting the Leafs. Lynd has also received hate mail.
"I read [the negative comments] while we were in production, and I had to put it down because it was so vicious about such a sweet film that is …about tolerance," says Lynd, adding he was surprised it was even an issue in 2007.
One of Canada's most vocal openly gay athletes, former Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury, says he's hopeful this filmwill open doorsfor athletes.
"What it could mean is that if it's OKin a fictional movie then maybe, if there is a gay person on a professional franchise like the Maple Leafs, it gives them permission to be themselves."
But for the Montreal-native Noah Bernett, who playsScot in the movie, the issue is a no-brainer: "I think the moral of this story is that people shouldn't be scared of who they are."