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The Hockey Player Who Used to Say ‘Fag’ All the Time Wants Everyone Else to Stop

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SOUNDBITES — “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. … We need to make a change now, because kids who move away from home to play junior hockey at 16 or 17 are still impressionable. If they don’t encounter a good role model, the seeds are sown for a person, who after trying to fit in, thinks it’s OK to drink, treat women a certain way and use homosexuality as a punchline.” —Former New York Islanders player and hockey columnist Justin Bourne, calling for an end to homophobia in hockey.

Though Bourne has a few things he still needs to learn about writing professionally about the Gs: 1) He talks about gay players not “admitting” they are gay; nobody “admits” it, because there’s nothing negative to admit. We “acknowledge” it. 2) “Homosexuals” (a word this blog often uses in jest) is the clinical term for gays, and Bourne’s use of it — like in the USA Today column and his blog post announcing it (“My USA Today column on homosexuals in professional hockey is ‘out’ this morning”) — is striking, because it seems so out of place.

But hey, give the man credit: “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.” Especially when we’re dealing with this and this.