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Scott Heggart: A Jock Came Out (VIDEO)

Void(0)Here is an excellent story from the Ottawa Citizen about Scott Heggart, a brave young ex-junior league athlete who did the thing that vanishingly few major league athletes have done in any sport: He came out to his team.

Heggart knew he was gay from the 6th grade on, but he was an athlete even then, and suffocated by the incessant homophobic machismo of the locker room. His twin identities as a gay male and athlete seemed irreconcilable; as an adolescent, Heggart flirted with suicide, and sometimes tried to "think himself straight." It didn't work. In the 8th grade, at age 15, Heggart summoned his courage and came out to his family -- first to his older sister, and then to his brother and parents. Coming out to his other family, the one with whom he played hockey in the Lanark-Carleton Minor Hockey League, would be trickier. That would take two more years.

But -- and here's where Heggart's story diverges from that of most gay kids -- as he gathered resolve to come out to his teammates, Heggart began posting anonymous videos to YouTube. The videos weren't purely anonymous -- they showed Heggart's face -- but he never attached a name to them, and it seems nobody in Heggart's athletic circles ever noticed them. Incredibly, he posted a video every day for a year, delving deeply and often movingly into the coming out process, and the unique difficulties faced by a gay athlete. The videos developed a sizeable following: To date, his vids have well over half a million views.

As sometimes happens, Heggart found a boyfriend, and it was this that compelled him to let his teammates know about his orientation. Still, he found he couldn't do it face-to-face. And so he changed his "relationship status" on Facebook from "single" to "in a relationship," posted a picture of himself with his beau, and waited.

And then what happened? How did his teammates -- uber-macho dudes who casually dropped the worse antigay epithets as matter of course -- respond to Heggart's news?

From the Citizen:

By the next morning, there had been no reaction to his status change, so Scott went to school wondering if anyone had noticed, or if he’d been blacklisted while he slept. Friday came and went. So did Saturday and most of Sunday.

Then, on Sunday evening, one of Scott’s best friends from hockey sent him a private message on Facebook: “What you did man, it takes a lot of courage and I’m proud of you. And I’ve been talking to a lot of people and they all say the same thing.”

His inbox filled up with messages from teammates and classmates, every last one expressing respect and support.

One teammate wrote, “If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t have had the balls to do that.”

Some of Scott’s teammates apologized for previous slurs. A former football teammate apologized “on behalf of everybody” for making him “feel so uncomfortable.”

And so it went.

There's a good bit more to Heggart's story, and it's well worth giving a read over at the Ottawa Citizen. And take a few moments to watch one of Heggart's most moving videos, AFTER THE JUMP, in which he asks his father to advise other dads who might be struggling with their kids' coming out. Seems like a great guy.

 

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Comments

  1. The Ottowa Citizen article spells Scott's name as "Heggart," not "Haggart" as in the Towleroad article. Please confirm the correct spelling of his name.

    Posted by: atomic | Mar 17, 2012 7:13:57 PM


  2. Atomic -- Well spotted. I've corrected it. I think I need stronger glasses. - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorpp | Mar 17, 2012 7:42:44 PM


  3. It's also Ottawa not Ottowa.

    Posted by: Peter | Mar 17, 2012 7:50:57 PM


  4. I'm not sure his assertion that fathers' accepting gay kids are few and far between compared to mothers and siblings is correct. That doesn't fit with my own experience. I've known many cases where the fathers are completely cool, but a mother or sibling may yet be in a process of adjusting. Acceptance/non-acceptance doesn't cleanly fit gender lines. e.g., several of the most prominent public homophobes are female, e.g., Anita Bryant, Maggie Gallagher, Shirley Phelps-Roper.

    In any case, we are also seeing less and less non-acceptance from everyone. Not accepting gay people is so 1964.

    Posted by: PIR | Mar 17, 2012 8:19:08 PM


  5. Brendan Burke's TSN interview was late November, 2009. If the YouTube video dates are accurate, Scott was coming out before that but without the celebrity pressures of having a powerful NHL father. It also says something very positive about his team-mates who weren't being "politically correct" in their reactions to Scott's news.

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/article/732071--brendan-burke-support-overwhelmingly-positive

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Mar 17, 2012 8:26:20 PM


  6. It's Canada, eh? (grin)

    I think that he was VERY brave, in a personal sense, wrt his teammates, but... socially, it's all quite different up here. He had the right, and he was brave enough to take the risk. Bravo!

    (Everything is evolving quite nicely, to suit our "gay agenda".)

    Posted by: JAMES in Toronto | Mar 17, 2012 8:39:08 PM


  7. Though I rolled my eyes at the ignorantly titled "Only in America" headline for the Irish dancer story below, perhaps we can call this nice hockey story "Only in Canada"? ;)

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 17, 2012 8:47:41 PM


  8. Awesome dad. My dad was accepting but my mother was a nightmare. I've heard MANY people say that they had the same experience. I think it's a myth that fathers are much less likely to be accepting than mothers. I think that any small discrepancy that might exist can be attributed to the fact that males are much more socialized to be homophobic and gender conforming than females.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Mar 17, 2012 10:48:48 PM


  9. Love this wonderful story from Ottawa (where I also live). I read the article this morning and was very, very moved. It (quite literally) hit close to home.

    Scott has shown how having courage and pride at a young age can change your life.

    I waited over 20 years longer than he did, to "Come Out". What a waste of potential happiness and fulfillment.

    Bravo to Scott!

    Posted by: bruce | Mar 17, 2012 11:06:33 PM


  10. I read the story at the Ottawa Citizen, but better than that I watched the videos Scott Heggart himself made (which are at the OC link). His intelligence, humanity, and humility shine through whether he's talking about being a "gay jock" or the suicide of Jamie Hubley. Seriously, they're worth watching.

    I'll be honest. I've read a few of the heart-warming stories of the star quarterback who came out to mass acceptance and while pleasant, they left a slightly bitter aftertaste for me. Star school athlete comes out to wide acceptance, whoop-de-****ing-doo! What about the art-f*gs, the band-f*gs, and the gay boys and girls who'd been on everyone's map from day one? Their stories weren't so pretty. Sure it was progress, but it didn't seem like a lot. It seemed too easy for them and in a way I resented that, that they seemed to have it "easy."

    Watch this video by Scott Heggart about Jamie Hubley and tell me he doesn't "get it," see the larger picture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYwUNiYd9DQ

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 17, 2012 11:21:33 PM


  11. It's OTTAWA not OttOwa, how easy is that?

    Posted by: David | Mar 18, 2012 12:45:47 AM


  12. rock ON, proud young vanguard! :D

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 18, 2012 1:06:05 AM


  13. It's a lot easier to come out and to have other people accept it when the government of your country treats you as equal as everyone else.

    Proud to be Canadian!

    Posted by: Lucas | Mar 18, 2012 2:59:01 AM


  14. to the point about Governments - in light of Dharun Ravi's court case:

    while Ravi did indeed contribute massively to Clementi's death on a personal one-on-one level, the real "cause" was cultural anti-gay bigotry.

    think about it - what has more impact? a brat kid bully saying anti-gay s**t to a classmate, or that classmate going home and turning on the news to see a prominent politician and/or religious leader saying the exact same anti-gay s**t, or worse, to a packed crowd giving rapturous applause?

    i'm not condoning bullying nor invasions of privacy nor bias intimidation. i just think targeting one person for the culture of anti-gay prejudice the world is still mired by doesn't really solve the problem. Canada's PM is an embarrassment, we all hate him. BUT - at least the country's laws, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and indeed the greater public opinion is in favor of LGBT Equality - the PM is *forced*, if you will, to adopt a Pro_Equality stance. It has a massive impact on the country; trickle-down-Acceptance, if you will.
    we don't get demonizing anti-gay rhetoric in the news and in politics the way the US still does. Don't get me wrong - occasional conservative politicians up North stil try, feebly, to trot out the same old tired Social Wedge Issues. "Gays and Abortions and PraiseJeebus, OHMY!" - but nowhere near the level it was decades ago, and with massive fallout from the public and other politicians when they do so.

    It does indeed make a massive impact to young people when, despite the prejudices of the people or communities they're stuck being around, they can look to Law, to Policy and to "facts" and see that the naysayers and bigots are the ones who are wrong. who have been proven wrong. they can look to laws to see that anti-gay prejudice is indeed as low-down ugly and shameful as racial prejudices and the other affronts to humanity that have marked our collective history.

    when politicians no longer pander to, and encourage, discriminatory bigotry it has a marked impact on the cultural climate.


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 18, 2012 2:53:50 PM


  15. Um, not to downplay what he did, but I'm guessing from his hairstyle, everyone already knew he was gay.

    Posted by: Nikolas | Mar 18, 2012 3:10:32 PM


  16. @LITTLEKIWI

    Yes, and I agree...

    "we don't get demonizing anti-gay rhetoric in the news and in politics the way the US still does. Don't get me wrong - occasional conservative politicians up North stil try, feebly, to trot out the same old tired Social Wedge Issues. "Gays and Abortions and PraiseJeebus, OHMY!" - but nowhere near the level it was decades ago, and with massive fallout from the public and other politicians when they do so."

    ...but I loathe Harper (our Prime Minister) and I don't trust him.

    AND

    We're still saddled with the manipulative Roman Catholic Church.

    ...well, some of the other churches and relions too. However, the RC are the worst for playing at politics.

    Much better that it was, or that I ever hoped to see in my lifetime. Not perfect, YET.

    Posted by: JAMES in Toronto | Mar 18, 2012 4:20:23 PM


  17. when i was a teen coming out, Jack Layton (RIP, my hero) the NDP leader came to the Village to meet and talk with the gay communities.

    not pandering - he stood with us, marched with us in Pride every year, and was a true ally. it meant a lot to me as a teen Coming Out to see a Prime Ministerial candidate spending time in a GAY CLUB on the weekends to talk to the young queer people of the city.

    as a teen i cannot stress enough how much strength and comfort that gave me.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 18, 2012 4:26:50 PM


  18. What a great episode. Being raised in a Mennonite atmosphere, of course I was taught that homosexuality is wrong and at the same time was told to except all people. Yeah, talk about confusing. I think of all the people in the Mennonite upbringing and how they must struggle.
    I have a question. Why is it that alot of gay men speak so femininely? Scot or his partner Brock do not, just curious.

    Posted by: Diane Neufeld | Jan 26, 2013 8:15:00 PM


  19. "I SUPPORT "YOU" and all the other young people who have decided this is their choice of being,
    You all have the right to be whom you want to be
    Sincerely
    Wendy Newmarket
    Ontario

    Posted by: Wendy | Jan 27, 2013 6:11:14 PM


  20. Scott:
    Just watched your story on W5 and I think that you are so awesome. I have one son and I told him when he wasn't yet married at 34 that if he was gay, please tell me because I will love you no matter what. He did get married when he was 38 to a wonderful girl who loves him very much. I am around so many people who say such stupid things like, "why did he have to turn gay"? I could just scream at them and say that they need to do some real reading up on the subject. So, just letting you know that I really enjoyed your story and I am so glad your parents had the same reaction as I would have. Be who you are and be proud! You have great parents!
    Take care,
    Reta

    Posted by: Reta Roy | Jun 15, 2013 7:40:00 PM


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