Caity Strong – 2006-2007 Essay

“What Gay Hockey Means to Me” by Caity Strong

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

I’ve heard it been said that women have it easier than men “coming out” in our society. I’d like to let it be known that, in my opinion, it’s definitely a person-to-person experience. (Take into consideration all of the closed-minded families and all of the open-armed families whose willingness to accept their child has nothing to do with their gender.)

My personal experience with identifying myself was and still is a fluid experience. It’s something complicated and emotional– a process that to this day I still believe is evolving. I cannot and will not believe I am done growing, nor is anyone else who’s still living and breathing.

Because of the societal constraints that have been thrust upon us since the bombardment of images were first allowed to devour our heads: one image of a gay boy and one image of a gay girl were what sticks out when we close our eyes as a 12-year-old and imagine ourselves as gay, right?

But I dreampt this image was wrong. With capital letters and bold, italics, underlining, whatever. I knew there should exist so many multi-faceted images of what we’re allowed to be and what really remains to be true that no two images are even remotely similar. That 12-year-old should close their eyes a hundred times and never picture the same image twice.

This is why I questioned my sexuality constantly. Why do I possess both the qualities of this stereotypical gay woman and the stereotypical qualities of the straight woman? I have long hair but I love to play tackle football with the boys. I always want to be the dad when we’re playing house, but I still want to do my nails.

Throughout middle school, I was grappling with the normal middle-school-aged things. I yearned for attention, and all the other girls got it through getting boyfriends, so that’s what I did. Little did I know the reason this didn’t work for me was because boys weren’t my thing. I needed to get help fast and find answers or else things the dark end would find me soon.
Although the downward spiral tried to catch me several times, I found myself hanging on with the help of two awesome parents and drowned myself in schoolwork and the great sport of hockey. I didn’t come back up for air or to pay any other attention to my sexual identity until the summer after I graduated high school when my mom decided to leave my dad unexpectedly.

With big changes at home and big changes for my future as I was to live on my own for the first time, I decided to start figuring myself out. After joining a local women’s hockey league, my friend Lora asked me if I was also interested in joining a local Gay hockey team. She warned me that the skill level wasn’t what I was used to, but that the people were great and I’d be a good role model for the beginners.

Little did I know that the role I’d be taking on would not be as a role model, but yet one to be looking up to these amazing men and women who’ve survived and lived and smiled and cried… thriving and beautiful people in a community I never knew existed.

Not only does it exist, but it exists in the multi-faceted way I knew it did in my dreams; the way where I can close my eyes and dream myself gay one million times over each a different time never the same.

Gay hockey is so much more than hockey to me. Although hockey for me had been an escape for so long, something to knock out having to deal with my sexual identity, now facing it without fear and knowing I am part of a diverse population– that sense of community is what brings me back week after week.

And that is what Gay Hockey means to me 🙂