This week, Team GB are are supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign – telling the stories of members of the LGBT+ community from the Olympic world, including their experiences within sport and the impact it’s had on their lives.
Ice Hockey UK and Great Britain ice hockey are proud to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign too.
Team GB’s first story is from Great Britain defenceman Zach Sullivan, who helped GB to win promotion from Division I Group A in that dramatic tournament in Budapest, which took the nation to the top flight of world ice hockey.
💬 “Ice hockey is such a small family, that whenever something happens everyone supports what’s going on.” @ZachSully11 made the brave decision to announce he’s bisexual in January. The reaction from the ice hockey community blew him away 👇#RainbowLaces @stonewalluk
— Team GB (@TeamGB) December 7, 2020
Ice hockey had always been Zach Sullivan’s release – the place he could go to forget about the struggles of real life. Yet in early 2020, he could feel that release slipping away from him and not because of anything that was happening on the ice.
Instead, the burden of keeping his bisexuality a secret was starting to weigh heavily, as the Manchester Storm defenceman – who had pulled on a Great Britain jersey for the first time the previous year – found himself distracted and his performances deteriorating.
No male professional ice hockey had ever come out publicly as bisexual before, meaning Sullivan had no template to follow and no reassuring real-life case to draw upon as proof that he would be accepted.
Yet with his livelihood and sporting career potentially on the line and a determination to ensure that any future members of the ice hockey and LGBT+ communities had an example to follow, the then-25-year-old made the courageous decision to come out publicly as bisexual on the Elite Ice Hockey League’s first-ever Pride Weekend at the end of January.
Photo credit: Dean Woolley.