FAB Magazine presents a refreshing feature on the Toronto Gay Hockey Association, along with a photo feature:
The hockey jock is an enduring fantasy figure in gay culture, a collective daydream that undoubtedly includes some locker time with Jarome Iginla, highsticking and a hat trick.
Luckily, right here in Toronto, we have the largest gay hockey league in the world, the Toronto Gay Hockey Association (TGHA). For 21 years, local gays, lesbians, queers and their allies have been lacing up their skates and pulling on their jockstraps to play our nation’s favourite game.
The growing league boasts a median age of 29 and is ready to kick off the season at new digs, the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens). They are also eager to welcome new faces, new fans and some seriously sweaty competition.
Bryan Frois joined the TGHA as a goalie four and a half years ago before becoming the volunteer responsible for TGHA’s public relations. “I was in my third year of university and missed playing hockey,” he says. “I played competitively as a kid, but when I left high school, I stopped playing. Part of why I had to leave was because I didn’t feel comfortable any more playing in adult hockey.” Frois came out in Grade 12 but faced homophobic attacks his whole life, having participated in figure skating and ballet as well as more traditionally masculine sports. “In high school I ended up losing a lot of my hockey friends because of this issue.”
Stories like Frois’s are not uncommon, but hockey is quickly becoming seen as a more gay-friendly team sport. Allies like Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke speak out on homophobia, and recent polls, like one conducted by ESPN, show 92 percent of professional hockey players supporting gay marriage. A number of National Hockey League teams also came out in support of Spirit Day this year, donning purple to bring attention to the challenges facing gay, lesbian, bi and transgender youth.