Leif Backus – What Gay Hockey Means to Me – 2021-2022 Essay

I can’t forget the nasty shout: “Geez! What a bunch of dumb queers!”

That was what my coach said anytime we didn’t play well on my high school hockey team. And we rarely played up to his standards. The words were an emasculating disapproval to most and a bitter identification to me. Not aggressive enough. Not fast enough. Not physical enough. Hockey magnified my closeted shame such that even after hearing encouragement from my best friends, I didn’t play my senior year. But sometimes now, on Sunday evening, the joy I get from playing in the MGHA feels like a little, beautiful revolution. Instead of feeling anything negative, I cherish the freshly Zambonied wet ice, the unique rink smell, the sound of a puck drop, the sensation of rough ice under steel blades, a glove-on-glove congratulatory hi-five, the excitement of a beautiful goal, or the ‘ding’ of a shot hitting the post. I love the game. But more importantly, I love and feel deep gratitude towards all those who are the league/community as they cultivate the best part of the sport… and ourselves.

So to all MGHA-ers, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. “What a bunch of fun queers,
allies, and good people you are!” And don’t you forget it!