Former OHL and semi-professional hockey player Brock McGillis has come out as gay in an article for Yahoo Sports Canada
The Canadian sportsman reveals his decision to remain closeted for most of his career and opens up about some of the homophobic culture he experienced in locker rooms and how it forced him to hide his sexuality.
"Hockey has always been very homophobic," McGillis wrote for Yahoo.
"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 'f*g,' 'p*ssy' and 'b*tch' are part of the daily banter."
"Those words are used to belittle players, to weaken and feminise them, because hockey is hyper-masculine, meant for the manliest of men."
McGillis recalls how he always knew he was gay and was foruntae for having a supporting household.
"I remember being a child and watching a movie with a gay character. I asked my parents: 'Am I gay?' Their response was: 'I'm not sure but if you are, you are.'"
McGillis then gradually came out to his friends and family but decided to stay closeted professionally out of fear of ending his career.
That all changed however when he met Brendan Burke, the late son of hockey legend Brian Burke who started the 'You Can Play' organisation to help end homophobia in sports.
"Two days before his death we exchanged messages on Facebook and he wrote, 'I can't wait until the day that you're out like I am,'" McGillis said.
The message inspired McGillis to come out and he now hopes to inspire a movement.
"Homophobia still exists in today's hockey culture. People - who were once considered friends - no longer speak to me. It has been challenging being one of the first 'out' people in this hockey community, but that has made the reward even better."
He adds, "If you are gay, lesbian or trans and playing hockey, know that you are not alone. Know that you are not the only one."
"Know that I am here for you, the way Brendan Burke was there for me, because it gives me an immense sense of pride carrying his legacy."
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