Paralysed hockey player Jack Jablonski comes out as gay after ‘tough, lonely’ journey

Paralysed hockey player Jack Jablonski bravely comes out as gay

Former hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralysed in 2011, has bravely come out as gay after dealing with a “tough and lonely” process to accepting his sexuality.

Jablonski, 26, a former high school hockey player from Minnesota, United States, said he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality while recovering from the life-changing injury he sustained during a hockey tournament in December 2011 at 16 years old.

Explaining that playing sports surrounded him in a “straight, masculine world”, he said he “internalised” his feelings until he started to recover from his injury.

“I am finally in a good place mentally and it’s time for me to move forward and live my life freely,” he wrote in the statement posted on Twitter.

“I am not a professional athlete, but I plan on spending my life and career in sports,” Jablonski, who now works in PR for the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings, added.

“Having seen the acceptance to the brave men and women that came before me, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done to pave the way in sports.”

In a follow-up interview with the Star Tribune, Jack Jablonski said: “For me it felt like now that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m comfortable and proud of who I am and wanting to move forward in my life – I felt it was time to put that out there.

“I hope someone seeing this can see there’s so much support out there… The best way to go about life is to be who you are. I’m on day one; it’s a huge relief.”

He added while talking to The Athletic: “I feel like for the first time in my life, I’m happy and excited about the future.

“I’m finally being true to myself, having finally come to grips with who I am. It feels great to be able to be myself and not have to worry about hiding in the shadows.”

‘Still a taboo’

Jablonski’s announcement comes after several high-profile athletes have come out as LGBTQ+ in the past year, including Australian football player Josh Cavalloand Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes.

Blackpool’s Jake Daniels made history in May as the UK’s first active male pro footballer to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

He told Sky Sports that “being gay or bi or queer” in men’s football is “still a taboo” subject, but added it was a “massive relief” to come out.

He added that by coming out, he hopes he can “be a role model” to other athletes struggling with their sexuality.

“I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant,” Daniels said.