Play with Pride: Celebrating Queer Folks in Hockey

Continuing our celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, we’ve highlighted a few queer folks that are making a positive impact within hockey. Continue reading to learn about LGBTQ+ athletes Angela James, Harrison Browne, and Brock McGillis.


Angela James

Angela James was the first openly gay player, and second black player ever to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. From Toronto, Ont. Angela is known as “the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey” and remains the only black player to captain Canada at a senior level.

While in college, James was named athlete of the year twice (1984 & 1985) and upon graduation, she became a member of the Seneca College Varsity Hall of Fame with the school later retiring her jersey number 8.

Currently Angela is employed by Seneca College in the department of Athletics and Recreation as Senior Sport Coordinator.


  • Four-time IIHF World Women’s Gold Medalist with Team Canada (1990, 92, 94 & 97).
  • 2000: Wrapped up her competitive hockey career after producing 44 points in 27 games for the North York/Beatrice Aeros of the NWHL.
  • 2008: Became one of the first three women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.
  • 2009: City of Toronto renamed the arena where James’ played growing up to “The Angela James Arena”.
  • 2009: Inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
  • 2010: Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.


Harrison Browne 

Harrison Browne is the first transgender athlete in professional hockey. From Oakville, Ont., Browne was part of the National Women’s Hockey League and played for the Metropolitan Riveters and the Buffalo Beauts (winning a championship with both teams). Browne helped form the first ever transgender policy in professional sports to aid both trans individuals in their participation. He is the appointed Inclusion Leader for the NWHL advisory board and special ambassador for the National Hockey League’s Hockey Is for Everyone Initiative.


  • 2011: Won a Silver medal at the U18 hockey championship in Sweden.
  • 2011: Won a Silver medal for Team Ontario during the 2011 Canadian Winter Games.
  • 2016: Recognized by The Hockey News as one of hockey’s 100 Top People of Power.
  • 2017: Named to the All-Star team and won championship win Buffalo Beauts.
  • 2017: Named Outsports Male Hero of the Year
  • 2017 & 2018: Two-time Isobel Cup Champion
  • 2017 & 2018: Voted NWHL Fan Favourite back-to-back years.

Play With Pride Browne

Brock McGillis

Brock McGillis is a former Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and semi-professional goalie. From Sudbury, Ont., Brock is the first professional hockey player to come out as gay. After announcing his sexuality in 2016, McGillis has become an influential advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and has travelled across North America creating inclusive cultures wherever he can. It’s his mission to create equality regardless of sexuality, gender or race while focusing on the language we use and how we can shift it to be more inclusive.


  • 2000: Achieved SV% of .928 over seven games with the Soo Greyhounds.
  • 2000-2010: Played in four different leagues over the course of his career (OHL, UHL, Netherlands and CIS).
  • 2015-16: Named Goaltending Coach for Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget AAA.
  • Featured in the book “Everyday Hockey Heroes”, CBC The National, CTV’s Your Morning, and on the cover of IN Magazine.

Play With Pride McGillis


Discussion: What are Gender roles and stereotypes?

Our society has a set of ideas about how we expect people to dress, behave and present themselves. Gender roles in society mean how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex at birth. Traditionally for example, girls and women are generally expected to dress typically feminine and be polite, accommodating and nurturing, whereas boys and men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold.

How do gender stereotypes affect people?

A stereotype is a widely accepted judgement or bias about a person or group—even though it’s overly simplified and not always accurate. Stereotypes about gender can cause unequal and unfair treatment, known as sexism.

There are four basic kinds of gender stereotypes:

  1. Personality traits—For example: Women are often expected to be nurturing and emotional, while men are usually expected to be self-confident and aggressive.
  2. Domestic behaviours—For example: Some people expect that women will take care of the children, cook and clean the home, while men take care of finances and do home repairs.
  3. Occupations—Some people are quick to assume that teachers and nurses are women, and that pilots, doctors, and engineers are men.
  4. Physical appearance—For example: Men and women are expected to dress and groom in ways that are stereotypical to their gender (men wearing pants and short hairstyles, women wearing dresses and make-up).

Gender stereotypes are harmful because they don’t allow people to fully express themselves and their emotions. For example, it’s harmful to masculine folks to feel that they’re not allowed to cry or express sensitive emotions. And it’s harmful to feminine folks to feel that they’re not allowed to be independent, smart or assertive. Breaking down gender stereotypes allows everyone to be their best selves.

How can I fight gender stereotypes?

There are ways to challenge stereotypes to help everyone—no matter their gender or gender identity—feel equal and valued as people. Here are some tips on how to fight gender stereotypes:

  • Point it out—TV, advertisements, movies and the Internet are full of negative gender stereotypes and sometimes these stereotypes are hard for people to see unless they’re pointed out. So, be that person! Talk with friends and family members about the stereotypes you see and help others understand how sexism and gender stereotypes can be hurtful.
  • Be a living example—Be a role model for your family and friends by respecting people regardless of their gender identity. Create a safe space for people to express themselves and their true qualities regardless of what society’s gender stereotypes and expectations are.
  • Speak up—if someone is making sexist jokes and comments, whether online or in person, challenge them.


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