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  • October 11, 2019

Jon Lee-Olsen says he’s “ready to stand up for myself and other” queer athletes

This profile is part eleven of Queerty’s Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out in the past year. The series will run through National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Jon Lee-Olsen, 27

Bio: Born in Gentofte, Denmark to Asian-Dutch parents, Olsen took an immediate shine to the ice as a youngster. As an adult, he joined the Rungsted Seier Capital, the professional hockey team of Rungsted as goalkeeper. Preternaturally sky and private, Lee-Olsen at first seldom discusses his upbringing, family or personal life in interviews or even among his fellow teammates. Though he’d come out to his family in 2012, Lee-Olsen had opted to stay in the closet around fellow hockey players, even his friends. He  even pretend-dated women to show his hetero bonafide. That all began to change in summer 2019 after witnesses athletes from Tom Daley to Robbie Rogers start to break down the sports closet.

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Coming Out: In August, the ultimate intersectional Lee-Olsen reached out to his teammates to discuss a personal matter. In a group text message, let them know the truth and braced for the worst. As in many professional sports leagues, hockey players, even in Europe, tend to throw insults around like “that’s so gay” without really considering they may have gay teammates or fans. Much to his surprise, Lee-Olsen began receiving messages of encouragement from his teammates, who applauded him for his honesty.

“It was nice,” he recalled.

Emboldened by the acceptance of his team, Lee-Olsen decided to go one step further. In an interview with the Danish sports program Go’aften, Lee-Olsen came out on live television.

Related: Hockey star Jon Lee-Olson comes out of the closet on live TV

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Making a Difference: Lee-Olsen knew coming out would land him in uncharted territory, especially within the world of hockey. “There’s a risk that some people might shout and heckle me while I’m playing matches,” Lee-Olsen said in his coming out interview. “It’s something I have to be ready for and be mature about. But I feel that I’m ready to show that you can be gay and play ice hockey. It took longer than I expected, but now I’m ready to stand up for myself and others.”

With his public stand, Lee-Olsen became only the third professional hockey player in the world to come out.

Here’s how he put it:

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I am sure that in the future there will be others who stand out and I hope that I can help give others the courage to take the leap. If some have had doubts about their sexuality, they may have stopped playing hockey early – simply because it was easier…I want to show that there are lots of people who would like to support us. You have to be able to play the sport you want and at the same time be open about who you are.

Therefore, it is important to stand together now if there are others who have it like me.

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