Doug Massey has been a hockey fan since he was a kid. In 2005, he made hockey an avenue to support LGBT rights when he founded Gay Hockey Ohio and now serves as the group’s president. Massey has played on their team, Ohio Mayhem, ever since. Gay Hockey Ohio is intended to provide a positive, supportive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender hockey players, but it’s really an open group for any hockey fan — gay or straight — to play hockey.
This Friday, Gay Hockey Ohio has partnered with the Ohio State Athletics Department, NCAA, Central Collegiate Hockey Association and You Can Play — an organization dedicated to eliminating homophobia in sports — for Pride Night at the Schottenstein Center when Ohio State takes on Notre Dame.
Gay Hockey Ohio will be going into its eighth year this fall. It began with six of us who just wanted to start a team. There were only three who had ever played hockey so the first game was kind of crazy. We only lost six to zero, but we came back next season and got revenge by beating them.
Gay Hockey Ohio provides a safe, comfortable environment for anybody, whether you’re straight or gay, to come out and learn to play hockey. If you want to come out and play hockey and don’t care if the person sitting next to you is gay or a lesbian, come out. We just want to create that environment because it can be intimidating to join if you’ve never played, or you have played and just don’t feel comfortable being yourself. We’re about 50-50 straight and gay and we’ve got 15 on the team now, but we limit that so everybody gets some time to play.
Our team is 0-0-0-2. We’ve lost in two shootouts so far and had a 12-round shootout last game. We’re doing pretty well because we’ve been playing the tough teams first.
In 2008 we came into the playoffs in the last playoff spot, which meant we had to play the No. 1 team in our division. We beat them 4-1, and went on to beat each team by at least that much, even in the championship game.
You Can Play was founded by Patrick and Brian Burke. Patrick is the former GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Patrick’s son [Brian’s brother] Brendan worked in athletics at Miami University and he came out and got a lot of acceptance. When Brendan passed away in 2010 in a car accident, they started You Can Play. The goal is to try to eliminate the homophobia in sports. The big focus has been hockey, but they’re branching out to [other sports]. The Boston Bruins are getting on board and they’re making a lot of headway and success when they get in front of these teams. Their motto, “If you can play, you can play,” applies to everybody, whether you’re straight, gay, black, white, whatever. Our event is helping You Can Play get their foot in the door with Ohio State.
Pride Night begins with a pre-game social in the VIP Boardroom, a new area they just added in the Schott. It’s beautiful. During the game, we’ll have a couple messages from Ohio State President Gordon Gee, Mayor Michael Coleman and the Ohio State hockey team. After the game, we’ll have a free skate on the ice.
I’m a big Blue Jackets fan. I haven’t missed opening night in four years. They’re having a tough time and it’s hard to watch, but we love having them. We’ve also hosted pride nights at Nationwide Arena. We played Chicago’s gay team on Nationwide’s rink after one game.