The Oppression of Openly Gay Hockey Players

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). 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.

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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: “

  1. 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.
  2. To educate LGBTQ+ youth on loving themselves and developing strategies on how they can best accept themselves.
  3. 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.


  1. Cromwell, A. (2018). Openly Gay Former Pro Fights Homophobia in Hockey.
  2. Mcgillis, B. (No Date). Striving for Equality.
  3. Wong, J. (2017). Changing Attitudes Towards Homosexuality in Hockey an Uphill Battle. Retrieved from y-an-uphill-battle-u-of-a-researcher/
  4. Young. (1990). Five Types of Oppression.

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The Oppression of Openly Gay Hockey Players. (2019, Nov 21). Retrieved from

The Oppression of Openly Gay Hockey Players
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