25 year-old Brock Weston loves hockey and his tenure as the assistant captain on the NCAA Division III men’s hockey team at Marian University in Wisconsin was a dream come true. Until it wasn’t. That was when rumors emerged that he was gay. Rumors that quickly turned into slurs.
Weston, who wrote an Op-Ed at Out Sports magazine about his experience said, “I had friends and teammates from my Marian University ice hockey team in Wisconsin spreading rumors about my sexuality. It felt so disrespectful to think they wouldn’t have the courage to ask me face to face. Instead, they would make subtle digs in a conversation to see if I would react. I was so upset after going out one night that I threw my phone at the wall, punched a hole in my door and was bawling uncontrollably. I knew I could not live like that any longer.”
After discussing it with his friends and coach, Weston came out by reading a letter at a team meeting that said:
This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I don’t know what to expect and I’m scared.
I’ll get it out of the way early and tell you all … I’m gay.
This has been my nightmare for years and to be honest this day has haunted me for months. To hear the things I hear about people like me from you guys and the hockey community has made this nearly impossible. I just hope you understand: I didn’t choose this, and I hope you won’t turn on me.
We often talk about leaving your ‘shit’ at the door of the rink, but because of this environment, that’s where I’ve had to pick ‘it’ up. I can leave here and be myself, to an extent. But when I come back, I feel judged and uncomfortable.
This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault, but I just want this place to be judgment-free zone where we can come and put our work boots on and have fun like ‘brothers.’ I really want you guys to support not just me, but anyone in this room or on this campus that is having a problem.
Now I want to tell my story about how this has come to my own realization, and how it has been, and I want to leave you guys with some things to think about moving forward.
Growing up as hockey players we are exposed to the locker room talk from a very young age, hearing it from our buddy’s crazy dad that says whatever the fuck comes into his head with no regard. We pick it up quickly because we are little sponges. Every guy we’ve ever played against has been a ‘loser’ or ‘fucking fag’ or ‘a cocksucker.’ You get the picture.
We all heard this year each other’s stories, and I’m thankful you guys were brave enough to open up about some of the worst times of your life. But it killed me going up there and talking and not opening up to you guys. But how could I?
I hear the talk. Every. Single. Day. How could I stand up there, in front of you guys and be what you so openly hate?
A little flashback for you guys to try and understand me a little better.
I haven’t always known I was gay. In fact, as many of you know, I’ve had sex with quite a few girls.
I always kind of knew there was something different. Obviously, I didn’t know what. I’ve only really known that I’m gay for about three years. Yeah, I didn’t even know before I came to Marian.
So, imagine growing close to your teammates — ‘brothers’— and then realizing you are what they hate. How do I hide that? Why do I have to hide that? We’ve been friends for at least a year, if not more, and I haven’t changed, I’ve just learned more about myself. Isn’t that what college is for? I’m still the same Brock.
Now, to look ahead, there’s some things I want you all to think about and maybe be a bit more conscientious about:
1) Just because I am gay does not mean I am coming to the rink and looking around at everyone. This is my home, my family, and that’s not how you look at family.
2) I am going to lay my fucking ass on the line on the ice for you all. That’s what I came here for and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
3) I get the slang and jokes and stuff won’t stop right away, but please be a little more courteous.
4) You can ask me questions because — don’t fucking lie to yourself — you’ve got questions.
5) Jokes. I’m OK with some. I’ll let you know when I’ve had enough. Just don’t make them with ill intent, it’s not cool.
6) Please don’t run around yelling this like it’s some sort of big news. I don’t get many things out of being gay, but I do get to decide when to ‘come out.’ Go watch ‘Love, Simon’ — it’ll hopefully open your eyes a little bit.
If we truly want to be a family, we have to trust each other. I am trusting you guys with what is the biggest secret of my life. I am trusting that it won’t be fuel for you guys to be shitty people and hate on me.
I am trusting that we can use this as an opportunity to grow closer and to appreciate the struggles that we don’t see and to know that we truly can leave our shit at the door of the rink and become a family when we walk into the room. We don’t have to all be best friends outside of the rink, but we also don’t have to talk shit. There’s enough other shitty people doing that, we can stick together, and when we walk into the rink, we can be a family for the few hours we are here. We’re all here for the same reason.
So, when I tell you to finish to the line or to bear down on a puck, there’s other guys thinking it. Take it in stride and know that I want you to be your best so that the team can be its best. I’ll listen to you about anything.
I want you guys to know that I do love you all, and I do know that we are good people and that me being gay doesn’t change the fact that I want to do my part to help this team and program become a household name and hold a national championship trophy.
Weston says he never thought he would come out, “The whole experience was one I don’t think I could have imagined growing up. I am from a very rural part of Saskatchewan in Canada and have heard every derogatory term for a gay person that you can imagine (and probably more than you know).”
Weston will be graduating from Marian University of Wisconsin in May 2020. He will graduate with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. He has applied and is waiting for acceptance to medical school to become a physician, aiming for sports medicine. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on Twitter (@bwesty_5) or Instagram (@br0ckw3st0n).
If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Allicance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.