Jason Palmer – 2013-2014 Essay

Gay hockey means politely declining invitations to join for years, citing your paralyzing fear of team sports brought on by 12 years of hellish gym classes.

Gay hockey means finally giving in and trusting your friends who are MGHA members that there exists a sports league that is actually supportive.

Gay hockey means doing breathing-relaxation exercises while driving to the rink for pre-season practices and scrimmages because you’re a nervous wreck over how bad you’re going to be.

Gay hockey means meditating on the incongruousness of having teammates discussing the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race while putting on their hockey gear.

Gay hockey means wondering if you’re not gay enough to fit in until you remember that you wash your jersey and socks on the delicate cycle with Woolite.

Gay hockey means being surprised when your straight teammates are the most vocal supporters of adopting unabashedly gay names like “The Green Gay Puckers” as the team name.

Gay hockey means feeling quietly relieved when you realize other beginners are just as bad at hockey as you are.

Gay hockey means obsessively watching the time on the scoreboard and hoping the game ends quickly because you’re embarrassed by the number of times you’ve fallen on the ice.

Gay hockey means realizing that your coach praising you for falling down often was not being sarcastic. (Falling over, he said, is a sign you’re pushing yourself.)

Gay hockey means having to bite your tongue—hard—and simply say “Thanks” to people who say they see improvement in your playing even though you don’t.

Gay hockey means helping members of the other team back on their feet after you knock them over on the ice.

Gay hockey means members of the other team helping you get back on your feet after they knock you over on the ice.

Gay hockey means having members of your team, members of the other team, and occasionally even the refs give you positioning advice.

Gay hockey means appreciating teammates who don’t exclude you from the game despite not being able to contribute much.

Gay hockey means staring at the Facebook photo somebody posted of you during a game and realizing after a few moments that yes, that is you and you are actually playing hockey.

Gay hockey means enjoying wearing your MGHA sweatshirt because after all the spills, bruises, muscle sprains, and aches, you’ve earned it. (And also because it’s really comfy.)

Gay hockey means finally being able to relax at the games and not care about the game clock, scoring, or even team rankings because you’re just there to enjoy playing hockey.

Gay hockey means watching your Facebook friends list explode with other MGHA members—and occasionally with their drag-queen alter egos, too.

Gay hockey means going from being relieved when there are weekends with no hockey scheduled to being annoyed and upset at excuses like “Super Bowl Sunday,” “Oscars Sunday,” and “Christmas.”

Gay hockey means feeling sad when the season begins to wind down because your hockey skills have finally improved from comically bad to just bad—and feeling proud of that improvement.

Gay hockey means feeling excited to sign up for summer scrimmages so you can see everybody again and play some more.

Gay hockey means wondering why you waited so damn long.