Instinct Exclusive: Brock McGillis Is The Heartthrob We All Need!
From Professional Hockey Player To LGBTQ Activist!
Okay, so you need a little bit of backstory on how I got to interview the fantastic Brock McGillis. McGillis, 34, came across my social media feed a few weeks ago as it has been a year since he’s came out of the closet. To be honest, I’ve been following him on Instagram for quite some time simply on the fact that I found him attractive. I know, I’m the worst. But, McGillis certainly isn’t! To my surprise, after seeing articles pop up on the Canadian McGillis, I was enthralled by the fact I’d been one of his Insta followers. So, after doing just a bit of research, I had to reach out to him and see if I could interview him. Yes, I’ve seen a handful of pieces on him surrounding being closeted and a professional hockey player, but I knew there had to be more. He kindly took time out of his day to give us an Instinct Magazine exclusive where he talks lost love, relationships, and life after a professional hockey career. Join me as we dive into this beefy athlete’s life!
Bryan Keating: Brock! Okay, we’ve got to start off with how the hell did you get into hockey?! That’s like, the least gay thing one can do.
Brock McGillis: Well, I’m Canadian. Hockey is what boys, in Canada, grow up doing. It’s our version of football or baseball in the United States. Every boy grows up wanting to be the next [National Hockey League] superstar. It’s not our official national sport, but it is.
BK: Did you receive jealousy from your peers growing up because of your skills?! You ended up making it into four professional leagues, you couldn’t have ever been bad.
BM: You know what, not really. Hockey is more popular now than it was when I was a kid. I was talented at a young age, but when I first started playing, I wouldn’t go on the ice. I would sit on the bench and allow the other kids to play. My dad eventually got fed up and [didn’t want me to play anymore]. I told him I wanted to be a goalie [as opposed to a player]. I told him you’re on the ice the entire game, everyone cheers for you, and everyone congratulates you at the end of a game. I clearly liked attention. My past time was the hockey rink.
BK: How old were you when you started playing professionally?
BM: I started at age 20 and then I stopped playing professionally in about 2010 [at age 27]. I was going to go to the United States to play, but I just had enough. I turned around, I couldn’t do it anymore. My body was so sore at the time, it still is.
BK: What was your worst injury?
BM: I had a concussion that had me out for eight months. I had my hand skated over in a game. I’ve shattered my hand and knuckle in a fight. I basically have an injury head to toe. That’s when I decided it was time to stop.
BK: What’s your favorite battle scar?
BM: Probably my finger. I can’t bend or keep my pinky straight. [My pinky] is curved.
BK: I read an article stating your parents brought you dinner to the hockey rink. You just never left?
BM: [The rink] was an escape for me. Maybe in an effort to hide my sexuality.
BK: What hidden talents do you have? You can’t only be great at hockey.
BM: As a kid I was a really good basketball player.
BK: Ugh! Not sports! Relate to me about something.
BM: I’m the worst dancer, I’m a terrible singer. I’m not artistic. I’m quick witted, maybe I could’ve been a comedian. I’m good with crowds and public speaking. Sports were my whole life growing up. I played competitive softball and exceled at basketball and baseball. I was an athlete, that’s all I [know].
BK: Did you crush on your teammates?
BM: I didn’t. I was dating women while playing hockey and was struggling with my sexuality. I never sexualized any teammates. Your teammates are like a family member; you’re with them so much. It would be a bizarre thing to me. Someone asked me if I was checking out anyone in the showers. I asked him if he checks out his sister? They are my family, so it kills the fantasy.
BK: Do you still play hockey professionally?
BM: No, I’m retired. But, I public speak and run training programs for elite athletes.
BK: Looking back, what was your favorite team to play on?
BM: The Wolves. I was living in Amsterdam, which was pretty cool. It was my favorite travel location. You could travel all over Europe in a car when you had time off. I wish I wasn’t 23, so I wouldn’t have enjoyed it just as a party scene. I was still closeted at the time as well. I went on my first date with a guy once I got out of Amsterdam.
BK: Oh my God! Tell me about this first date!
BM: This was pre-Grindr. This was either GayDar or Guys For Men.
BK: So, you met offline. What sparked you to go on a date with this person.
BM: I was so depressed from my mid-teens into my twenties. I would go home from Hockey every night, I was breaking up with girls [left and right]; I was a bit of a womanizer to keep up appearances. I was so unhappy that I was unable to be myself. I would break down every night crying. I wanted to die so bad. On a few occasions, I tried killing myself and was drinking heavily. So, I went online.
BK: And you found your safe haven in the internet?
BM: Essentially. I saw there were a ton of gay men. I didn’t know there was that world. I encountered a lot of men who were married and had children. I said ‘That’s gonna be me.’ I didn’t want to end up marrying a woman and having children…then looking for men online. I had to figure something out. I ended up [going online] and agreed to go on a date with this cute guy.
BK: Was the date in public or in the bedroom?
BM: It was in his apartment.
BK: Okay, I know from my past that a date isn’t a date behind closed doors. When is the first time you went on a date in public?
BM: Here’s what happened. I was almost 24-years-old went on a [closed door] date with this feminine, soft-spoken, pretty man and I was terrified. I’m a bro compared to him, but I was so scared of it being my first gay date. I kept thinking someone was going to find out. Through him I met an acquaintance of his, because my original date had ghosted me.
BK: So, what about the guy you met through him?
BM: I dated him for three years. I was closeted the whole time, so no one knew. I dated him for three years and he was one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, but he never met anyone in my life. He even had a fake name for me so people couldn’t find me online or anything. He’s now married and lives in Los Angeles, living a [seemingly] happy life.
BK: Do you consider him your first love?
BK: How many other times have you been in love?
BM: [Hesitant] Two.
BK: Are you currently in love?
BM: I think so. [With my current relationship] I’ve been in love three times.
BK: Does your past help your dating life or does it hurt it?
BM: Since I’ve came out publicly, I’ve been sexualized as the jock, hockey boy. I’ve established I’m okay with attention. [My past] hasn’t hurt my dating life, but I don’t want someone to see me solely as a sex object or a way to [gain notoriety].
BK: How do you make sure you’re avoiding the ones who want to use you?
BM: I’m good at weeding out those who want to use me for some other purpose. I don’t hook up, so it makes it easier. I would rather look into someone’s eyes knowing there’s passion rather than just seeing someone want me for [my body] or as a stepping stone.
BK: Even though you’re in a relationship, please tell me your ideal first date.
BM: Never do dinner! People get awkward with their eating habits and don’t want to talk.
BK: You don’t want to see someone deep throat a hot dog on a first date?
BM: I don’t mind eating! I think some people want to present themselves as an image that isn’t truly them. I want to see who they are beneath all the bullshit. [My ideal date] is going for a social drink or coffee to start. If that goes well, I like to go for a long walk.
BK: How did you get into motivational speaking to LGBTQ youth?
BM: I wrote an article for Yahoo! Sports coming out publicly. I was out to my friends and family, including my brother [Corey McGillis, a fellow professional hockey player], but not to the hockey world. I started getting treated differently for being gay. I was blocked by associations from training their players [for being gay]. Then, [the Pulse terrorist attack] happened and I believed that could’ve been my friends and I. Pulse is why I finally wrote the article and came out.
BK: Were you praised for the article?
BM: I received praise from one particular grandmother of one of the kids I coached. She was so proud and hugged me; she has a lesbian daughter. I received countless messages from so many people. I was so emotional. But to be honest, I’ve never even read the article after publishing it.
BK: How many unsolicited nude photographs did you get?
BM: I still get nude pictures all the time. I was even offered to go to France to be a kept-man [Trophy boy]. I still get those offers today.
BK: Have you ever taken a fan on a date?
BM: No, I don’t want to go down that road. I don’t think it would end well. If someone is reaching out that way, I don’t know what their motivations will be. I don’t know if they’d want to get to know me.
BK: Do you see homophobia in the NHL?
BM: I get calls when homophobia happens. I had to make a complaint when a player called a referee a c—sucker.
BK: Do you believe there are other closeted or gay players?
BM: [Statistically speaking] Yes. There has to be. But, I’m the only one whose ever came out in hockey.
BK: What’s in store for the future of hockey?
BM: My goal is to shift the language in hockey. Currently, I see so many more open-minded players who are progressive. I hate hearing from some of the youth, “That’s so gay.” I’ve had hundreds of people ask why I think that is offensive…it is. Especially using derogatory terms regarding women. It’s sexist. You’re saying women are less than men. The sooner the language changes in sports, the safer the environment will be. The safer it will be to come out.
BK: Do you revert back to hating yourself?
BM: No. I use my past as lessons. If I hadn’t experienced those lessons and learned from those moments. I wouldn’t be able to use my platform to help others and try to change the world.
During our chat, I spoke to McGillis about recognition. His work with LGBTQ youth and activism seemingly goes unnoticed. In 2018, I anticipate seeing McGillis sky rocket into our lives as a prominent LGBTQ figure. He is making efforts to impact the sports community. Now, he just finished filming documentary about gay athletes and is raising awareness through social media and public speaking to educate youth on progression in sports. He isn’t stopping until he witnesses a change not only sports, but the world. He believes if the world shifted, he wouldn’t have been suicidal and had repressed feelings. I think we can all get behind McGillis’ activism. We’re rooting for you, Brock – now go and kick some ass!
Quotes have been edited for clarity.