“In my days as a hockey player, I did nothing but contribute to hockey’s culture of homophobia and prejudice against gays. I used gay slurs more times than I’d like to admit. Six months after I left my last professional locker room, I felt a twinge of regret, followed by a full-out, stomach punch of regret. And by the time I finished the first draft of this column, I was disgusted with myself.
“At the time, it seemed harmless. After all – when you think about the NHL, AHL, ECHL and more, can you call to memory a single open homosexual among them? There was nobody in my team’s dressing room to offend, right? The lack of a homosexual presence in hockey must mean one of two things: either homosexual men don’t play the game or they don’t feel comfortable admitting it — in which case I, and my brethren, were offending some teammates with our close-mindedness, and furthering what must have been unsettled feelings of fear and general exclusion. [snip]
“So it’s time. It’s time to acknowledge we’ve been unfair to the gay community, that the culture of our sport can be misogynistic, homophobic and cruel. More important, it’s time to make a stand that we want it to change. I know I can’t take back the words I said during my time as a hockey player, but this is a start. I think if you asked any minority group that has won the rights and freedoms that all people deserve, they’d agree on one thing about change — it’s better late than never.” – Former pro hockey player Justin Bourne, writing for USA Today.