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Pro hockey player makes history by coming out as gay, says he’s ready to be heckled during matches

Emma Powys Maurice October 8, 2019

Jon Lee-Olsen during the Champions Hockey League in Jonkoping, Sweden (HV71 Jonkoping/Champions Hockey League/Getty)

Danish hockey star Jon Lee-Olsen dropped a bombshell in a live TV interview with the Danish news show Go’ aften by coming out as gay.

Jon Lee-Olsen plays as goaltender for Rungsted Seier Capital, and is the first professional male ice hockey player to publicly come out as gay in Denmark.

He becomes only the third out male hockey player at professional level in the entire world, alongside Canada’s Brendan Burke and Sweden’s Lars Peter Karlsson. Karlsson was sadly murdered aged 29 in a suspected homophobic attack.

Lee-Olsen said he’s ready for the backlash he will inevitably face as an out LGBT+ sportsman.

“There’s a risk that some people might shout and heckle me while I’m playing matches,” he said.

“It’s something I have to be ready for, and be mature about. But I feel that I’m ready to show that you can be gay and play ice hockey. It took longer than I expected, but now I’m ready to stand up for myself and others.”

Jon Lee-Olsen (left) tends the goal during the Champions Hockey League in Vojens, Denmark. (Sonderjyske Vojens/Champions Hockey League/Getty)

Lee-Olsen finally came out to teammates in August after years of hiding his sexuality and pretending to date girls. He feared they would reject him, but their reaction was entirely supportive.

“They wrote that they had great respect for the fact that I dared to say it, and that I was still just me,” he told Go’ aften, adding that it’s actually made the group even closer.

“I think there is more openness among us now. Now we can talk freely about the same things from everyday life — without a filter.”

While gay athletes are typically told that their sexuality will be a ‘distraction’ that could negatively impact both their team and their career, in Lee-Olsen’s case the opposite is true.

“He’s playing better now,” said his teammate Nikolaj Rosenthal. “It is as if a stone has fallen from his heart.”

More: coming out, Denmark, hockey, homophobia in sport, ice hockey, LGBT athletes, Rungsted Seier Capital

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