A gay hockey player has opened up about the horrific moment he was kicked out of practice for punching a teammate who called him a “faggot”.
The incident occurred when Stephen Finkel was playing hockey at St Thomas Aquinas College in Upstate New York – but the shocking moment ultimately helped him come out to his teammates.
Finkel explained that “everyone was tired and tempers were short” at the end of a “long, hard practice” in an article for Outsports.
“I took the puck, skated down the ice and fired a shot past our goalie. I celebrated a bit too hard and could tell he was p***ed,” Finkel wrote.
Gay hockey player Stephen Finkel punched the teammate who called him a ‘faggot’.
“On my second shot he didn’t even attempt to stop the puck and I celebrated yet again.
“The third and final time he again didn’t make an attempt at a save. As I skated around the net, I decided to head off the ice to the locker room. As the door was opening, the goalie yelled something that stopped me in my skates.
“You are a f**king faggot and what faggots do is give up.”
Finkel turned around, approached the teammate and punched him, causing him to be kicked out of practice.
That day we met in the office I sat across from him and told him I was gay, that I had a boyfriend and that words like he used weren’t acceptable on or off the ice.
The incident was made all the more traumatic by the fact that Finkel was only out to a handful of people at the time, and had kept his sexuality from his teammates.
Soon after, Finkel worked up the courage to tell another teammate that he was gay, which inspired him to approach the athletic director over the use of a homophobic slur in practice.
His teammate apologised for using the slur and they have since been able to move forward.
“She told me that she was supportive as were the college staff and faculty,” he wrote.
He filed a report with the school for harassment and was given a number of options, such as having the student suspended or filing a complaint with police.
But Finkel ultimately decided to sit down with the offending teammate and their athletic director to talk it out.
“That day we met in the office I sat across from him and told him I was gay, that I had a boyfriend and that words like he used weren’t acceptable on or off the ice.
“He apologised and seemed really sorry for what he said.”
The mediation worked – the teammate who used the slur has since become an ally to the LGBT+ community and they have been able to move on from the incident.