A former minor league hockey player has publicly come out of the closet because of homophobic language he heard in locker rooms. Brock McGillis decided that he wanted to stand up to help change the culture in hockey locker rooms.
Here are his own words from a personal essay with Yahoo Canada:
For years I lived a life full of lies. Growing up in a culture of hockey – minor hockey, the Ontario Hockey League, university hockey, and semi-pro in Europe – I felt I would never be accepted.
For years I lived a life of denial, because I am gay.
Hockey has always been very homophobic. I can’t count the amount of times I heard phrases like: That’s gay or what a homo in the dressing room over the course of my hockey career. Words like fag, p—y, and b—h are part of the daily banter. Those words are used to belittle players, to weaken and feminize them, because hockey is hyper-masculine, meant for the manliest of men.
The support he’s received has been overwhelmingly positive. McGillis had wanted to come out sooner but was worried about being blackballed in hockey so he kept quiet. The horrific shootings at Pulse Nightclub changed his mind and now wants to help change the culture in locker rooms.
He told Outsports via text:
The reaction has been incredible. The Toronto maple leafs have reached out, as have the Chicago Blackhawks. Elliot Friedman of hockey night in Canada sent me a message. Plus the outpouring from people I know in the hockey world has been immense. I was sitting in class and my phone was blowing up. I’m still shaking.
The NHL has been a very positive force in the sports world for gay fans. After the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2015, Lord Stanley made an appearance at the Chicago Pride parade riding on a float. The You Can Play Project was founded by NHL executive Patrick Burke after his brother, who was gay, passed away.
You should really read McGillis’ essay which you can find below.