Co-founders of the Seattle Pride Hockey Association, Steven Thompson and Joey Gale have been on a mission to bring a safe space for all in the Greater Settle area through their love of hockey.
Thompson and Gale discussed what it means to them and to the SPHA to finally have a professional hockey player to look up to after Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made NFL history by becoming the first active player to come out as gay.
With Nassib coming out, he of course, will have plenty of pressures of being a first.
But Thompson and Gale are also hopeful to see more pros following in Nassib’s footsteps.
“I think, with Carl coming out in the NFL recently. You know, there's all sorts of parallels you can draw with masculinity and football and masculinity and hockey and what it means to be gay,” Gale said.
“You think of NFL players as these really tough, strong, macho guys. And then to hear and see Carl come out as gay, it's almost interesting to think, you know, what's the history that's led up to this point? Thinking through his head, if I can -- what allowed him to finally say to the world, 'I'm gay,' like, what was that final kind of breaking point? Or what was that point that he said, 'you know, living my truth is more important than staying hidden or staying in the closet.' I think it's so important, as Carl said, just the visibility of coming out in a kind of a position of power in the US.”
This is what Nassib said in his announcement on June 22nd via Instagram:
“What’s up, people? I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just want to take a quick moment and say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get this off my chest. I really have the best life. I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m not really doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.
“I actually hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary, but until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate. And I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization. They’re the No. 1 suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America and they’re truly doing incredible things, and I’m very excited to be a part of it, to help in any way that I can, I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.
In NFL history, there have only been 15 openly gay or bisexual players prior to Nassib. All 15 came out after their playing days were over or never actually played in a regular season game, per Outsports.
Gale continued, “We kind of idolize football players. We idolize all athletes to some degree. So seeing someone like that come out in football is just so exciting, especially as someone who identifies as gay.”
Gale also compared the two sports of football and hockey and is looking forward to more professional athletes coming out and being role models, the role models that Joey and Steven didn’t have as a kid.
“Seeing Carl come out, I think it just paves the way for more folks like him, whether it's at the top of the game, at the end at the NFL or even as young as elementary school and middle school -- having kids just see that type of representation is so important so they can feel like they have a place in the game too.”
To learn more about Gale and Thompson and the Seattle nonprofit organization, the Seattle Pride Hockey Association, check out www.seattlepridehockey.org.