My 17-year-old brother just told me he was gay. It’s not possible because he’s a great athlete: he plays hockey.

First of all, loving or practicing a sport has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to a sexual and/or romantic attraction towards people of one or more gender. On the other hand, there are a lot of prejudice and false ideas about sports that are seen as traditionally “masculine” like hockey, soccer, football, activities associated with masculinity and virility. Unfortunately, seeing that many people associate male homosexuality with femininity, they might believe that it is impossible for a gay man to play hockey. It is obviously false and, no matter what the sexual orientation of a person or whether they look more feminine or masculine, it doesn’t prevent them from practicing any sports.

What is problematic in sports like hockey is that the conception of masculinity is toxic. Toxic masculinity is defined like this: “the grouping of all the masculine roles, characteristics and stereotypes that are associated with the image […] of what is a ‘real’ man […] This concept illustrates a man as someone who is strong, doesn’t cry, doesn’t share their emotions or feelings, doesn’t ask for help from anyone, dominates, is aggressive in order to be respected by his colleagues, etc. And, in fact, a young man who doesn’t abide by these characteristics in hockey culture would be less respected than another who would be more “masculine” because of the substancial pressure for a hockey player to be a ‘man’.” (unofficial translation)

This type of culture makes it difficult for professional athletes to openly identify with the LGBTQ+ community. What’s important is to support and accept these people with respect and an open mind.

Sources:

André, Laurianne (2020). La culture toxique du hockey chez les jeunes hommes, https://lecahier.com/la-culture-toxique-du-hockey-chez-les-jeunes-hommes/

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