Hockey Player Benjamin Fredell came out as Gay amidst the rampant Homophobia in sports. Benjamin on the Outsports wrote that prevailing homophobia in sports made him walk away from a promising career as a pro hockey player.
He said that he vividly remembers the day someone called him gay in elementary school with a negative connotation. He said, “I remember it felt like I was being singled out, that it felt like I was being called ‘gay’ more than any of my peers at the time, so I started to harden.”
In the essay on Outsports, Benjamin said that it was not the hockey community that introduced him to homophobia but it was the environment that was built around him which made him hate himself.
“I had never experienced the word ‘faggot’ being said so many times before entering a youth hockey locker room,” he said. He added that he even started to overlook what it would mean to hide who he was really. He explained his struggle on how his career opportunity in sports coincided with his inner thoughts.
Benjamin said that he recalls the time when he tried to harm himself. He said, “Eventually, I started to hate the way I felt and thought that maybe there was something I could do about it. I’d show up to school with bruises on my face and say it was from hockey. The solution came when I got the option to go to California to play hockey for an elite youth team in Los Angeles”
Benjamin thought it would be a fresh start for him there. He was struggling to improve himself every single day. Benjamin said that it was better for him in California because the area was less homophobic. Shortly after, he quit the team and moved back home, began going to therapy, and slowly started coming out to friends and family over the next few months.
Benjamin said that it was okay to not have your sexuality all figured out. He said, “If a time machine were built, I would go back and tell myself that it’s just a game, despite all that everyone in the hockey community will tell you,” he concludes. “It’s not worth ruining your mental health over. And you are not alone. And if someone asks if you are gay, just look at them coolly and say, ‘Yeah, so what?’”