As Quebec Main Junior Hockey League gamers gear for a season they hope will change their lives, a goal-scoring 17-year-old New Brunswicker determined to not anticipate the puck to drop earlier than altering his.

Yanic Duplessis, an elite-level participant who was drafted by the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2019, revealed he’s homosexual earlier this week.

Within the hockey world, that qualifies as important information. One of many causes the native of Saint-Antoine, N.B., determined to step ahead is to assist make such bulletins unremarkable.

“It was a wrestle for me, and it should not be,” he mentioned in an interview with CBC’s Quebec A.M., later including “it should not be a giant deal.”

And for Duplessis, it was. He tells of hysteria assaults at college and calling his mom to select him up; he speaks of his concern that he can be discovered in what stays, in his phrases, “a really macho, manly sport.”

After revealing the reality to his dad and mom final yr, Duplessis determined to go public in an interview with the Atlantic Canadian FDS Podcast Community on Labour Day.

The response to his announcement suggests he needn’t have nervous. The outpouring of public assist was swift and appreciable. It included social media messages from folks within the hockey world, like former Montreal Canadiens participant Guillaume Latendresse, and former NHL robust man and present Quebec MNA Enrico Ciccone

Maybe most touching: the response from his friends and teammates. And considered one of them particularly.

“He got here house and began crying as a result of he mentioned ‘I did not know you had been going by means of this alone, and you must have instructed us’,” he mentioned.

Although Duplessis mentioned his dressing experiences “have not been that unhealthy,” however allowed he did hear hurtful and sometimes hateful phrases. However he thinks they principally got here from a spot of ignorance.

“The issues that had been mentioned,” he mentioned, pausing. “In the event that they knew I used to be homosexual I am certain they would not have mentioned what they did.”

The actual fact he has needed to hear homophobic language in a sport that has taken such issues extra significantly up to now half-decade nonetheless reveals hockey’s enlightenment with regards to sexual orientation (and plenty of different issues) is not but full. 

Former skilled participant Brock McGillis is aware of all about that. He got here out in 2016, and was the primary openly-gay professional participant.

He has been in touch with Duplessis and his household for a while, and provided no matter recommendation and assist he might by means of his course of.

“I am all the time a little bit hesitant when somebody chooses to return out in males’s hockey tradition and sports activities tradition typically, particularly at a younger age… as a result of I am nervous about how they’ll be handled within the sport,” he mentioned.

McGillis skilled dressing room homophobia first-hand, and half-jokes “much more so since I’ve grow to be an advocate.”

However he additionally says that every time an LGBTQ participant steps ahead (at the very least 5 by his rely), the assist they obtain will get incrementally greater.

His first feeling when he noticed the assist afforded to Duplessis?

“I used to be so completely happy,” he mentioned. “The largest takeaway is: once we humanize points for folks they’ll most of the time step up. As we humanize, we are able to educate and have an effect.”

McGillis mentioned many homosexual hockey gamers are generally reticent to contact him immediately.

“I’ve youngsters throughout North America, some come by means of their secret, faux Instagram accounts,” he mentioned. “There’s loads of youngsters on the market scuffling with this. And it solely is sensible.”

However the extra function fashions there are, the extra folks attain out.

A beaming Yanic Duplessis stands along with his dad and mom after being chosen by the Drummondville Voltigeurs within the 2019 Quebec Main Junior Hockey League draft. (Duplessis household picture)

Duplessis mentioned he hopes to make it a little bit simpler for others in his place to step ahead. It is already occurring; he says he is acquired messages from a number of folks within the hockey world saying, in impact, “Yeah, me too.”

What he did not anticipate is a lot public and media consideration.

“I did not assume it was going to go this far,” he mentioned. “However I am glad it did.”

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