The Oppression of Openly Gay Hockey Players

Evan Gignac


University of Windsor


October 25, 2018


Brock Mcgillis is a now retired professional hockey player, having seen time in both the

OHL and professional leagues in the US and Europe (Mcgillis, ND). Mcgillis is a native of

Northern Ontario (Cromwell, 2018), and grew up as many Canadian kids did playing hockey.

The big difference that can be seen amongst other Canadian males is that he claims to be the first

openly gay professional hockey player (Cromwell, 2018).

While playing, Mcgillis would often

find himself slandering his own sexuality, just to go along with the crowd (Cromwell, 2018). He

found himself suicidal and hating himself for what he was doing (Cromwell, 2018). Two years

ago, having been retired, the shooting at the nightclub in Florida enraged Mcgillis enough to

openly come out as gay.

Throughout retirement, Mcgillis coached and mentored younger hockey players in the

Sudbury area (Mcgillis, ND).

After coming out however, he found himself being told he was no

longer welcome. “ ?Associations I was coaching in, where they’d allow me to coach for free, but

my business wasn’t allowed to work with the players… I had others (that when) coaches found

out I was gay, they kicked me off their staff.”, writes Andrew Cromwell (2018). Brock Mcgillis

now travels to various minor hockey teams, preaching the need for inclusiveness. This is reached

through a change in language involving homosexuals (Cromwell, 2018).

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He also preaches the

acceptance of all genders and races (Mcgillis, ND).

While Mcgillis now goes about his days preaching acceptance, he experienced a

circumstantial amount of oppression in his days of playing hockey. These instances were first


seen during his playing days and later as a coach. The first instance was when he had to

disrespect homosexuals using slanderous names as a player. Mcgillis would be quoted as saying

“It made me hate myself” (Cromwell, 2018), as he had no choice but to fit in with the crowd of

his heterosexual teammates. According to Young (1990), this face of oppression is known as

cultural imperialism. Young (1990) describes cultural imperialism as “… the ? dominant group

imposes its way of life, beliefs, values, and experiences on “others’ and measures them by

dominant “norms”. In Mcgillis’ case, the dominant group would be his teammates. His

teammates are presumed to all be heterosexual males. Their beliefs are that homosexuals are

inferior and don’t deserve the same rights as a heterosexual. They impose this dominant norm on

Mcgillis, and he has no choice but to comply.

The second face of oppression experienced by Mcgillis is marginalization. Young (1990)

describes marginalization as “excludes whole groups of people from meaningful participation in

society”. This face was shown to Mcgillis during his coaching career. After his coming out, he

was told he was no longer welcome. “I had associations just tell me you can’t work with our

players”, Mcgillis said of his experiences (Cromwell, 2018). Associations in which he gave his

knowledge and mentorship for free, terminated him simply because of his sexuality. This event

would fit into Young’s definition as the lack of ability for meaningful participation in society.

Even though they did not know of Mcgillis’ sexuality, they managed to marginalize him. These

two experiences with oppression weighed down on Mcgillis, but ended up doing more good for

him than anyone would have expected.


After retiring from professional hockey, Brock Mcgillis has gone down a different path.

He uses his past experiences has a platform for his discussions with younger hockey teams. In

January Mcgillis spent some time speaking with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec League.

Afterwards it was noted that he undoubtedly left an impact. Bailey Webster, the captain of the

Sea Dogs, is quoted as saying ?“Even some of the guys now, they’ll just… they’ll hear someone

just randomly say it and they’ll just say ‘listen, don’t,'” (Cromwell, 2018).

Before Brock’s coming out as gay, many hockey players were not comfortable doing so,

many most likely still not. George Laraque, a retired Edmonton Oiler, says he knew many gay

hockey players. While these players have come out as gay to a few people, they don’t wish for it

to be public until more work is done (Wong, 2017). Brock Mcgillis wishes to see a day where all

who wish to come out, in fact can (Cromwell, 2018).

The oppression Mcgillis faced as a pro hockey player, then later as a coach, had it’s

negative effects at first. He was suicidal and hated himself. Later he would find himself being let

go from a volunteer position for reasons based solely on his sexuality. At first glance these

obstacles would appear to be crippling for Brock in his effort to preach equality, but he defies the

odds and comes back stronger. His mission statement: “ ?To create equality regardless of

sexuality, gender or race while focusing on the language we use and how we can shift it to

become more inclusive. To educate LGBTQ+ youth on loving themselves and developing

strategies on how they can best accept themselves. To speak to all youth across North America


and help them shift their language, treating others with respect and becoming a support system

for LGBTQ+ youth.” (Mcgillis ND), speaks volumes of his commitment to equality amongst

everyone. His goal is a consequence of oppression, though unintended. Good things rarely come

from oppression, this would be a major exception.



Cromwell, A. (2018). ?Openly Gay Former Pro Fights Homophobia in Hockey. ?Retrieved from


Mcgillis, B. (No Date). ?Striving for Equality. ?Retrieved from

Wong, J. (2017). ?Changing Attitudes Towards Homosexuality in Hockey an Uphill Battle.

Retrieved from


Young. (1990). ?Five Types of Oppression. ?Retrieved from


?A N orth ern O nta rio n ativ e , w ho c a lls h im se lf th e fir s t o penly g ay p ro fe ssio nal

hocke y p la ye r, is in th e M arit im es t r y in g t o c h ange th e c u lt u re o f h om ophobic

la nguage w it h in th e s p ort.

Bro ck M cG illis , 3 4, s p ent s o m e t im e th is w eek w it h th e S ain t J o hn S ea D ogs o f

th e Q uebec M ajo r J u nio r H ocke y L eague.

McG illis s a ys h e to o h elp ed p erp etu ate th at v e ry c u lt u re w hen h e w as p la yin g,

alm ost to h is p eril.

“It m ade m e h ate m yse lf ,” s a id M cG illis .

“It m ade m e b elie ve I c o uld n’t b e m yse lf . It m ade m e w ant to d ie

most d ays a nd I a ctu ally t r ie d to k ill m yse lf w hile I w as p la yin g

majo r ju nio r.”

McG illis , lo ng s in ce r e tir e d, d ecid ed to c o m e o ut p ublic ly a bout tw o y e ars a go.

The m urd ero us r a m page a t a n O rla ndo F lo rid a g ay b ar a ngere d h im .

At th e s a m e tim e h e s a ys h is s e xu alit y w as u se d a gain st h im in h is b usin ess

where h e m ento re d a n d w ork e d w it h y o ung h ocke y p la ye rs .

“I h ad a sso cia tio ns ju st te ll m e y o u c a n’t w ork w it h o ur p la ye rs ,” M cG illis

exp la in ed.

“A sso cia tio ns I w as c o ach in g in , w here th ey’d a ll o w m e to c o ach

fo r fr e e, b ut m y b u sin ess w asn ’t a llo w ed t o w ork w it h th e p la ye rs …

I h ad o th ers ( th at w hen) c o ach es fo und o ut I w as g ay, th ey k ic ke d

me o ff th eir s ta ff.”

WATC H: R is in g a b ove r a cis m t h ro ugh s p ort

The S ea D ogs a re th e fir s t Q -le ague t e am M cG illis h as s p oke n to a bout

in clu siv e ness th ro ugh a c h ange in la nguage.

Team le aders s a y th ey’r e c o nvin ce d h is m essa ge w ill h ave a n im pact.

“E ve n s o m e o f th e g u ys n ow , th ey’ll ju st… th ey’ll h ear s o m eone ju st r a ndom ly

sa y it a nd th ey’ll ju st s a y ‘li s te n, d on’t , '” s a id B aile y W ebste r, th e S ea D ogs

ca pta in .

McG illis s a ys th e c o nve rs a tio n n eeds to s ta rt a t th e m ajo r ju nio r le ve l a t th e

la te st.

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Oppression-3. (2019, Nov 21). Retrieved from

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