Welcome to a series on Proudly dedicated to sharing the stories from a variety of influential LGBTQ+ content creators who come from all different backgrounds within the media. This series will enable us to showcase their achievements and experiences within the industry and give the advice to inspire future content creators from the LGBTQ+ community.
Proudly wants to shine a light on the people who have made strides in a very competitive industry. Hopefully, this series is the start of something special for Proudly where we have been lucky enough to interview inspiring people such as Matt Horwood, Joe Wilmot, A Gay and A NonGay podcast hosts James Barr and Dan Hudson , Jon Holmes, Amazin LêThi, Benjamin Cohen and Kaylee Golding who have shared their incredible stories with us already.
Today’s article is dedicated to our latest LGBTQ+ influencer. Jon Lee-Olsen is a Danish hockey star and is only the third male professional hockey player (Lars Peter Karlsson of Sweden and Brendan Burke of Canada) in history to come out as gay and was the first Out Asian EU athlete.
Introducing Jon Lee-Olsen
Jon Lee-Olsen is a professional hockey player in his native country Denmark.
Born in Gentofte, Denmark in June 1992, Jon Lee-Olsen has played hockey competitively since he was eight years old and professionally now for eight years. Hockey seems to be a family passion in the Lee-Olsen household too as Jon’s older brother Morten Lee-Olsen is also a professional hockey player.
Although breaking into the professional sport was nowhere near as difficult it was for Jon in August last year when he broke the silence about his sexuality.
Coming out in professional sports
This news rocked the hockey world not only in Denmark but worldwide as Jon’s inspiring story caught the eyes of the biggest LGBTQ+ publications. Proudly is honoured to have spoken with Jon Lee-Olsen about his coming out experience, not only being a trailblazer but what it was like to become a role-model for many future LGBTQ+ athletes.
Although it did take a couple of years before Jon made his sexuality public. Speaking with Proudly about when he first questioned his sexuality Jon was still playing hockey in Sweden trying to get the break professionally.
‘I was thinking that maybe it isn’t such a great idea to come out as it could possibly screw up my career if people knew”– Jon Lee-Olsen talks about the troubles he had dealing with his sexuality and fear of it affecting his career
Jon was somebody who liked to keep his life private and their was a clear divide between his life in sport and his personal life. Having a boyfriend during this time, Jon was awaiting the ‘right environment‘ for him to make his sexuality public.
Although before the official announcement was made, Jon already came out to everybody in his personal life including his team-mates at the start of the season in their official WhatsApp group.
After seven years in the making Jon’s announcement was officially made during a live interview with Danish news programme Go’ aften in August 2019. The programme gave Jon the platform and total freedom to address his story the way he wanted to. This segment was truly powerful and even then, Jon could never have expected the global impact his coming out story had.
Global impact since coming out as gay
At that time, nobody else’s coming out story had a similar impact to Jon’s especially in Denmark. As soon as the announcement was made it was not long before the media took a keen interest in Jon’s story. Appearing in Attitude, Gay Times, Instinct and Queerty Jon gained the attention of media all around the world who were inspired by his bravery and wanted to share his story.
“The only person I could look to was the Swedish footballer (Anton Hysén) in the second division who came out and his story went pretty big and I thought it could happen to me too, but was I ready for that”– Jon Lee-Olsen on who he took inspiration from before coming out
Thankfully Jon decided he was finished with hiding his sexuality in the public eye and was ready to come out. Within the first three days Jon’s story was known worldwide and he was flooded with over 300 messages within the first week of people reaching out, sharing their stories and talking about how inspiring Jon is. Although it was always about being true to himself for Jon and was never about the fame. This is why he only responded to specific media attention and only focused on this news for the first two weeks before putting his career as a priority focus once again.
That was only the beginning for Jon as he currently uses his platform to positively contribute towards the LGBTQ+ community. Most recently Jon was nominated for the Danish Rainbow Awards and has never looked back since.
Battling discrimination in sports
Proudly asked if Jon has ever faced discrimination within sports which is sadly a common trend within male professional sports. Thankfully Jon has not received any hurtful comments or abuse because of his sexuality.
Although Jon had fears of being discriminated in the past due to his race. With a fear of people looking at him in a different way because of his race, he felt he was an easy target to pick on. Similar with his height, Jon believed it may put him at a disadvantage in hockey as he is a goalie. Once Jon grew older he knew these pressures were more internal and has never held him back.
Thankfully Jon has never missed out on any opportunities in his career due to his race or sexuality. This sadly is not always the case though as discrimination is a reality many sportsmen in the professional game face and is a contributor to why there is a lack of LGBTQ+ representation within sport.
Why does male sport struggle with LGBTQ+ representation?
This is why Proudly asked Jon for his perception on LGBTQ+ representation in men’s sport.
Playing competitive hockey for his entire life, Jon knows all about the pressures people face and how competition can bring the worst out of people. With fights a regular occurrence in the game, there would be no real shock to see people being aggressive and harassing rival players.
Once again Jon fears he could be an easy target but thankfully has not had to endure any trouble within the hockey community from the committee to the rival players they have all supported Jon’s sexuality and have publicly praising him for his bravery and honesty.
This sort of astounding support is sadly a rarity within male professional sports. Here in the UK our number one sport is Football and there is currently no active professional footballer across Europe’s top five leagues who has come out as gay, alongside this there has been over 4,000 Premier League players since its origin and not a single person is gay.
This is different for the women’s variation off the game as statistics show that in last years Women’s World Cup there were around 31 female players or coaches who are openly gay or bisexual in comparison to the men’s World Cup that had zero LGBTQ+ representation in any of the nation squads or coaching staff.
Sadly Proudly believes that the men’s game is behind the women’s due to a certain percentage of people who still believe in the ‘old-fashioned’ ways. Sport has evolved massively over the time but sadly not everybody’s perceptions have. Locker room banter is not only just that sometimes, Jon discussed how he still has to correct some people when making jokes or remarks that can be misconstrued and harmful.
‘The word faggot is a word that has been thrown out especially within hockey and sports in general in Denmark, even before I came out when I heard these remarks it could really effect my day and my performance because of it.’– Jon Lee-Olsen on how homophobic remarks in sports can be harmful
Thankfully within sports all across the world there is a pride week or a campaign put in place to recognise LGBTQ+ representation within sports from the fanbase to the squad everybody should be treated equal and accepted no matter their sexuality.
Although Jon urges people to realise this doesn’t just happen once a week, these stories last a lifetime. We must evolve our old-fashioned beliefs and see the bigger picture. ‘Sport is for everybody so everybody should be able to express themselves in sport too.’
Jon Lee-Olsen’s advice for future generations of LGBTQ+ Athletes?
Lastly, Proudly like to ask all our influencers if they could give one bit of advice to the future generations of LGBTQ+ people trying to break into the world of sport.
This is the advice Jon would like to give to our readers who are striving to break into professional sport.
‘I wish I had more courage before I was going professional and see how the world would have reacted to coming out and playing as a young kid.’
‘Either way you will always have support within the LGBTQ+ community, there is always somebody to reach out too and it really helps having somebody to speak to.’
‘Just be true to yourself, look inside yourself and see how it makes you feel, if you feel right by it and can see it is something that can help then stick to that.’– Jon Lee-Olsen’s advice to aspiring athletes inside the LGBTQ+ community.
As mentioned previously, Proudly.blog will be taking an insight into various LGBTQ+ creators to help inspire the young and upcoming journalists of today. If you have a story you would like to share or think you know someone who would like to share their story. Get in touch and get involved.
A huge thank you to Jon Lee-Olsen for sharing his story and advice to our readers.
Jon Lee-Olsen’s social’s
Our readers can stay up to date with everything Jon by viewing his social media pages below