Brandon Rounds – 2012-2013 Essay

In 2005 I graduated from a small town of about 2,500 people. I struggled much of my middle school and high school years battling with my true identity. I did the normal thing and dated girls. I knew deep down, from when I was a little boy at recess sitting on the side lines watching the other boys tackle each other while playing football, that there was something different about me.

I attended a local technical college where I no longer kept to myself and began to finally accept myself for who I was—a gay male. I quickly became the student body president and head student ambassador. I introduced the Day of Silence to campus and struggled with a few protestors for doing so.

In 2008 I graduated and started at a four-year university. Here I attended a small LGBT gathering on campus with about 15 students. The next year I ran for president of this organization and the attendance went up to about 75 members. That year our organization was named the organization of the year and I received a leadership award.

In 2012 I moved to Madison to start fresh. I knew one person and basically everything that I had worked for meant nothing now. I was later put into touch with an individual who would help build and shape who I am today.

I pulled up to Panera Bread where I was to meet this individual who was supposed to help me get into touch with the gay community. As I sat in my car I contemplated turning around and just resulting to meet others at the gay bars. After arguing with myself for a few minutes and getting a few weird looks from people passing by, I got out of my car and walked in to a guy with several Our Lives magazines and an iPad. This person was Patrick Farabaugh. I couldn’t believe I was meeting thee Patrick Farabaugh. The person who was homeless at a young age, traveled the world, and ended up in Madison, Wisconsin where he stated his own magazine, professional networking group, and the Madison Gay Hockey Association.

We sat and chatted briefly before he made me read a short story about an inspiring Ames Barker. After her story about how hockey changed her life so much I thought to myself, why not join the league. My inner self replied, “Because you don’t play hockey or let alone any sport, you idiot.” I again awkwardly argued with myself and after little persuasion from Patrick I was picking out hockey gear the next day.

I strolled into the second newbie practice because I joined late and put on my gear slowly for the first time. I put on my skates, walked up the ice, bravely started to skate like an old pro and instantly fell. I was wearing Patrick’s All Star jersey, so I know I was doing him proud. That first night I made a handful of friends. I went home and instantly became connected with several people on Facebook. We then started meeting each other for open skates, dinner, and just hanging out.

The season began and I had a rough time in the beginning. I didn’t feel like I was getting the help from the veterans and other members that I should have. That quickly changed the third game when a team member stepped up and started offering me advice and some tips to help improve my skills. With the advice and expertise I had received from Jen Voichick, I made my first goal and one of my best goals in the league along with several assists in other games.

I volunteered my time on the Blades Against AIDS committee and we nearly doubled our goal from last year. I met a group of very passionate individuals who wanted this event to be a huge success. That it was.

I have gained so much respect for each of my fellow hockey players. Each person brings something unique to the league. I would not have met such a tight knit, accepting community had I not joined the hockey league. I am so glad that I argued with myself that day in the Panera parking lot and forced myself to do something I never would have done. I owe it all to the Madison Gay Hockey League. Now Let’s Have a KiKi!”