• Finnish ice hockey player Janne Puhakka has come out as gay. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
“We wouldn’t have to go through all this if everyone could be themselves in the locker room."
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

4 Nov 2019 - 1:06 PM  UPDATED 4 Nov 2019 - 1:06 PM

One month after Danish ice hockey player Jon Lee-Olsen came out as gay, becoming the first professional hockey player in Denmark to do so, another ice hockey figure has opened up about their sexuality.

Janne Puhakka, a retired player from Finland, made the revelation during an interview with Finnish news website Helsingin Sanomat over the weekend.

“It would be ideal if I didn’t have to talk about this,” he told the website. “But as long as people are silent on the subject, we must speak up.”

Puhakka revealed that while he would have loved to come out sooner, he was anxious it would threaten his career prospects in the sport: “I wasn’t good enough to have complete security in my job. That brought uncertainty."

He added: “I’m sure other players fear the issue because of their jobs, as well.”

“The hockey world is somehow lagging behind,” the former player continued, saying that his motivation for speaking openly on the topic was to make life easier for others like him.

“We wouldn’t have to go through all this if everyone could be themselves in the locker room," he said.

"I’m glad if even one junior or professional player finds something positive in this interview.”

Over the last couple of years, Australia's ice hockey community has been productive in tackling homophobia in the sport - setting up an annual Pride Game and #PuckHomophobia social media campaign.

Maxime Langelier-Parent, the Melbourne Mustangs Head Coach, said that their team had a "responsibility to promote values that we believe will contribute to making this world a better place for all humans.

"The beauty of Ice Hockey and Sports in general is that if you have the skills, if you are ready to put in the work, and if you can skate, pass, and shoot, no matter your sexual orientation and gender identity, you can play."

Watch Finding yourself late: Coming out in your 40s now on SBS On Demand.

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