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Story of anti-gay joke shows the power of casual homophobia

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Dave Bossmin says he's an openly gay amateur hockey player on a gay team...and a closeted hockey player on his "straight" team. He wrote a guest editorial for Xtra! in which he tells a story of why he isn't out to his "straight" team.

A league official entered while our team was getting cleaned up. His first comment was, “Whoa! Lots of naked guys in here! Too much all at once!”

After some additional awkwardness, he concluded, “The good news, though, is that I’m not gay. The bad news is at least one of you might be.”

There you have it. Homophobia exists, the stigma is real and the challenges are there. We can speak all we want about how far we’ve come, but the reality is that some attitudes remain an impediment.

The story raises a good point: The power of casual homophobia. The league official made a dumb joke. Whether he meant it to be homophobic or not, it was certainly received that way and pushed the player deeper into the closet.

On the other hand, just because one guy made a tasteless joke doesn't mean any of the guys on the team appreciated it. Many of them may have been thinking, "What a dumbass." Plus, it doesn't mean the league official is anti-gay or thinks gay men don't belong in hockey; It means he has a crude sense of humor and at some level wanted to distance himself from acknowledging male nudity.