A Canadian hockey player has called out homophobia in sport, saying young people need better education on LGBT+ discrimination and abuse.
Brock McGillis, a gay former hockey player, has spent the last two years sharing his story in schools and with junior hockey teams across Canada.
Speaking to CBC, he said: “When they realise that those [homophobic] words made me want to kill myself every day, they realise their language can be impacting their best friends.
“It can be impacting their teammates,” he said.
McGillis played in the Ontario Hockey League in the early 2000s and also played in the Dutch Professional League and with the Concordia University men’s team in Montreal.
He has spoken out about being hypermasculine to fit in with his teammates, while hiding his sexuality and using homophobic language.
“I think they’re afraid to reach out to their team because of the stigma around mental health that still exists,” McGillis said.
“That hyper-masculine bro macho [man] really isn’t who they are. They’ve conformed.
“Who they really are is how they talk to their mum, or their girlfriend, not the act they’re putting on in these public settings.”
McGillis said he was also dealing with depression and considered suicide.
He has now travelled across Canada to speak to more than 200,000 people about his story and the impact of homophobia on young people.
McGillis added that despite his hard work, homophobic language is still common in sport, describing a scene witnessed by one young player.
“Their pre-game huddle was, ‘Those guys are f**king fags. Let’s beat the shit out of them.’ It was his first day with the team. He just looked around and went ‘Where am I?’”