hit the ice

What does gay hockey player Brock McGillis need when he’s traveling?

We recently checked in with Brock McGillis, a transformative figure in the sports world who pioneered a renewed focus on inclusivity and acceptance. As one of the first openly gay professional hockey players, his journey from navigating the intricacies of locker room culture to becoming a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ+ community is compelling and enlightening. 

In 2016, Brock’s courageous decision to publicly embrace his identity catalyzed an overwhelming wave of support, propelling him into a pivotal role as a speaker and champion for diversity. His mission transcends traditional advocacy, resonating with individuals across diverse backgrounds, irrespective of faith, race, or socioeconomic status.

Underpinning Brock’s commitment to change is the ambitious “Culture Shift Tour,” an initiative to engage with 100 minor hockey teams. He hopes to reshape the narrative of hockey by sharing his odyssey and inspiring the next generation to be proactive change agents. 

Brock’s influence reverberates globally, earning him accolades such as recognition on The Hockey News‘ list of the 100 most influential people in hockey for 2022. With academic credentials from Laurentian University in Communication and Sports Communication, complemented by EDI certification from Cornell University, Brock continues to spearhead initiatives that foster inclusivity and understanding across North America.

GAYCITIES: Can you share how you hope to create shifts so students might be encouraged to be themselves and the importance of this advocacy work? 

BROCK MCGILLIS: I think there are three easy tangible ways we can create shifts: 

1. Humanize – Put faces to issues; it makes them real.

2. The environment we create – The easiest way to create a good environment is through our language, behaviors, and attitudes.

3. Breaking conformity – As a society, we are afraid to show our weirdness even though we all have it, but we judge people who are different from us. 

The more we embrace what makes us different, the less likely we judge others. 

Your tour includes Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto stops. Is there a particular destination you’re looking forward to visiting/revisiting?

I had only been to Vancouver a couple of times, so I was definitely excited about it. Montreal is somewhere I’ve lived, but I haven’t spent much time there in the past 10 years, so I’m excited to get back.

Are there any spots you must stop at when you’re in town? 

The restaurant scene in Calgary was a nice treat. I’d recommend Ten Foot Henry and Eden. Gosh, I have so many spots in Toronto. My favorite is East Side Social.

How did you prepare for this tour? 

There were weeks, if not months, of prep, including travel, accommodations, car rentals, packing for two-plus months, and preparing myself for the emotional toll. 

I understand you’re planning to do a similar tour across the States. What cities are you considering for the next leg of the tour? 

I will go anywhere and speak to any team.

You came out in November of 2016. What prompted you to come out? 

My sexuality was becoming known because I was out in my private life, and it was being weaponized against me in the sport. That, coupled with the massacre at Pulse (nightclub) and some alarming threats a friend received, made me realize it was time to step up and try to be part of the change. 

Where are you currently based? 

I am based in Toronto. 

As someone who could live anywhere, what about Toronto keeps bringing you back? 

I love Toronto. It has everything I adore about major cities, but it also allows me to be close to family and friends – although I’d love an LA winter. 

Do you have any travel rituals or something you can’t forget to pack? 

I need my massage gun and gym clothes. I also get vitamins and groceries shipped to the hotel, so I’m all set and ready to organize the room. Oh, and I’ve been traveling with a mini toaster and a kettle.

Is there a destination you haven’t visited that you hope to one day? 

Ireland. I have citizenship and haven’t been. I’d love to explore my roots. 

How about for a vacation? Is there a favorite place you would like to head for some R&R? 

I’m more of a city traveler. I need to explore. I also like taking cities in like a local instead of being in the tourist bubble. Gosh, I have so many favorite places. I have always loved New York and LA. Outside of the US, I adore London. I could move there. 

How about your playlist? Do you have any go-to music you listen to on the road? 

Honestly, I watch TV or YouTube shows on planes and I’ve spent the majority of the driving doing interviews.

What are your plans for 2024? 

I want to be everywhere and do everything. I’m taking my work to a new level. It’s my year. 


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