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Hockey’s homophobic language problem is putting children’s lives at risk

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SUBWAY.cGillis was six years old the first time she expressed the possibility in words. He was watching a movie with his parents and saw a gay character on the screen. “What if I’m gay?” he had asked them.

“If you are gay, you are gay,” they had said. You are Brock. We love you. “But when he finally embarked on that journey to The Wall, he found a very different message on the runway. In the locker room, being gay was not greeted with the love and acceptance his parents had shown him.” Back then it was just , this is bad. Everybody says this is bad. They’re just using this in a negative way, “says McGillis.” So my thought process was completely, ‘I hear people call themselves fs when they’re joking, when they’re trying to say [someone is] less than. I hear people screeching at each other on the ice saying such language. It’s in the locker room, it’s on the ice, it’s always negative. ‘

“I hear the adults say it, I hear the players say it, I hear everyone say it: coaches, management,” he continues. “How am I going to be me and play the game? They won’t let me play. “

When those questions finally hit him, during his time at junior, McGillis was thrust into a full-blown identity crisis. “That’s when it got tough. That’s where it happened, ‘Okay, I can suppress this and I’ve never really seen it so I don’t get it’ to ‘I hate myself’. Like, ‘I really hate myself,’ ”says McGillis. “’I can’t be this. I can’t be like that, because then I can’t play hockey. ‘

For McGillis, at the time, accepting his sexuality was impossible if it meant giving up his identity as a hockey player. The pressure to maintain the latter had already begun. “If you’re in Canada and you’re good at hockey, it becomes your full identity,” he explains. “It’s what people talk to you about. It is because of what they recognize you, whether they are relatives, parents of friends, teachers at school, everyone talks to you about hockey. So for me, that became my identity. So how do I break? [apart] my identity because i’m gay? Those are two separate identities that felt like polar opposites. “

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