I’m an openly gay man. I walk really fast, I can never figure out how to sit in a chair properly, and my Spotify is filled with Lady Gaga. I also watch sports. I play sports. I play ice hockey, to be exact. Are you feeling a little bit confused? Are some things just, well, not adding up? Don’t worry, I’ve gotten these reactions all of the time.
Gay culture has been a part of my life ever since middle school. I turned to YouTubers and creators to help me figure out my sexuality. They gave me a sense of belonging and educated me on the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years I’ve learned to embrace my sexuality and I’ve become more open about it in general. At the same time, I’ve grown to love sports, as a lot of people tend to do in their youth. I started playing ice hockey in elementary school and I fell in love with the sport. I began skating multiple times a week and I played varsity ice hockey throughout my high school career. Although I loved playing the game, it hurt that I could not be my true self around my teammates. I never felt comfortable expressing myself because I knew it would be perceived as ‘gay’. So, I stayed quiet and kept to myself. Unfortunately, this is what many queer athletes face when it comes to sports.
However, I also experienced another kind of oppression, one that I feel is not talked about enough in the LGBTQ+ community. People at my high school were very accepting and they would tend to perceive me as gay because I did fit many ‘gay stereotypes’, and I was very open about it. Unfortunately, this accepting attitude seemed to change when I would bring up that I played varsity ice hockey. People would look at me confused as if something about me didn’t make sense to them.
People who identify as LGBTQ+ come from all walks of life. They have many interests; some fit those ‘gay stereotypes’, and some do not. Gay athletes should not have to hide their sexuality in the locker room and they should not have to cover their interests in the gay community either. True acceptance of any queer person is accepting who they love and who they are as a person.