Jaylen Xavier has always loved hockey, and has always yearned for an LGBTQ2S+ dressing room to feel truly comfortable in.
He's organizing Nova Scotia's first-ever all-queer hockey game on November 27th at Centennial Arena in Halifax.
Jaylan is a captain on the 2SLGBTQ+ & Allies Halifax Mussels hockey team, and an out trans man who absolutely loves hockey. But he wanted an exclusively-queer setting. Seeing none, he created one himself.
“This just came out of brainstorming. Maybe if this goes well, we can do this a few times a year, or even monthly,” said Xavier.
“It's just a really exciting thing for me. I went to the Canada Cup recently, and there were queer tournaments in Montreal and Toronto,” he said. “It was an incredible experience playing with only queer people. It was truly out-of-this-world.”
When Xavier went to queer Facebook groups to gauge interest, he found an overwhelming amount of support. He quickly got an ice surface and time, and the cost was $20 per player to register.
He is working to help prospective players find gear or transportation to and from the arena, and is welcoming spectators, with Public Health protocols followed. While allies are invited to be spectators and provide support, the ice surface will be for the queer community only.
“I'm very happy people are on board. I just want to provide this for people. It's something I know I've always wanted,” said Xavier.
“The Halifax Mussels are a great organization, but there are many allies taking up spots. I want a space just for queer people.”
Xavier wants to create spaces where adults can get out, be active and have fun.
“There are so few queer spaces to begin with. We lost our bar, and there are a few places for coffee. But there aren't really active spots, and the rink is one place I know feels like home for me,” he said.
“I always played in rinks, and it's a community feeling. You get to share the space and meet people.”
The day of the interview with Wayves, Xavier was headed to his mother's house to learn about maintaining a budget. “It's definitely going to be different being a treasurer, and I'm nervous, but it's so worth it,” he said.
“I would love to get donations and take a fully queer team to the Canada Cup. I think of Boston Pride teams and the trans team in Wisconsin, and I'd love something like that. I'd love to give that experience to people and make those connections.”
While Xavier loves playing with the Halifax Mussels, he said there's a different atmosphere when it's an exclusively-queer group.
“Allies truly do their best, but sometimes that's not good enough. They don't have those shared experiences, and sometimes can't understand how some things can be problematic,” said Xavier.
“The queer community can have important conversations. But the big thing is not having to worry about your body or anything else, especially in changing rooms. There's a lot of worry about your body and misgendering for trans and non-binary people, and I want to provide a space free of that.”
He said the Mussels, including founder Chuck Dauphinee, have been very supportive in their reaction to Xavier's decision to do this. “They are really excited. So far it's been a really good response and things are going very well,” he said. “I appreciate the whole community reaching out. It's been incredible, and I'm so happy to be doing this.”
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