daoust family feature

No love is offside

Coming out allowed Mélodie Daoust to become her true self, and it has led to life-changing moments on and off the ice

Chris Jurewicz
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June 18, 2020
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It took strength and courage, and it was anything but easy.

The hardest things in life, and those with the biggest pay off, usually are the hardest things to do.

Mélodie Daoust knew for some time that she was in love with her long-time friend Audrey St-Germain. But it took strength and courage, and some time, for her to be open about it.

“At the beginning I wasn’t sure or I was scared of the reaction, especially my family and friends,” says Daoust, 28, an Olympic gold medallist with Canada’s National Women’s Team in 2014. “I was hiding it for about three years before I decided that that’s who I was and accepting it and being OK with it.

“I told my family first and they respected it but, at the same time, they needed some time. Just like me, they needed to process it but it didn’t take long for them to be like, ‘Yeah, you’re the same person’. And my friends told me, ‘You can be whoever you want to be as long as you’re happy’. That made my life way easier. I never had to go through something hard with my family and friends so that was great on my end.”

That was in 2013. Daoust says coming out was akin to having 200 pounds taken off her shoulders; finally, she could be herself around family and friends and end the hiding.

Daoust and St-Germain have known each other most of their lives. They first met when they were 10 at a summer hockey camp and would hit the ice together at various points for the next few years. Although their roads went in different directions in their teenage years, Daoust and St-Germain eventually re-connected. Their relationship strengthened, they fell in love and married in August 2019. They also welcomed a son into the world when Mathéo was born in May 2018.

“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing for sure,” says Daoust. “When he arrived in our life, it made everything better. He’s a ball of energy, really kind and respectful. He always wants to play different games every day. This is the time when he’s learning to speak. I’m teaching the English part and my partner is teaching him French. We try to raise him the best as possible in the most respectful way. Hopefully he’s going to grow up into a strong and respectful little boy.”

Daoust is well aware that her life isn’t accepted by everyone. But she believes she has been lucky – hockey has always provided a welcoming environment. Daoust first joined the Hockey Canada program with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team in 2009 and says she hasn’t experienced any bigotry.

As a young player in the program, she witnessed veterans who were comfortable coming out and Daoust says that gave her confidence in who she was. She believes the program supports everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

“I feel like everyone is open about it in the hockey world and this makes it way more welcoming and accepting for everybody,” says Daoust. “We know that Hockey Canada is behind us and also is behind every player, whether they’re from different nationalities or have different skin colour or who you’re with in your personal life. And that makes it way easier to be who you are and open about it all. All the coaches in the organization know about you in your life if you’re open about it and they’re more than happy if you’re happy.”

Gina Kingsbury is Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams. She is also a former player, having played 116 games with Canada’s National Women’s Team during a career that included two Olympic gold medals and two world titles.

These days, Kingsbury holds one of the most senior positions in women’s hockey. She’s tasked with not only icing successful teams across the program and growing the women’s game from coast to coast to coast, but also with ensuring all athletes are able to compete, train and learn in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Kingsbury, 38, says Hockey Canada has forged a culture of inclusivity over many years. It’s an organization that has walked the talk.

“It’s been a culture that’s been built over many years. I don’t think it’s anything new that we do,” says Kingsbury. “It’s part of who we are and the great people who are part of our program. We make sure that we create an inclusive environment that allows people to be themselves and feel accepted, and to feel safe in that environment breeds success, in my mind. Not only does it allow us to be a close-knit team and a close-knit program, it also allows us to be successful at what we do. It also shows that we’ve been world leading for many years in that aspect.”

June is Pride Month in Canada, which is meant to celebrate the LGBTQ2+ community that includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirted, along with other gender and sexual identities. In the past, Hockey Canada athletes, including those from the women’s program, have participated in Pride parades across the country. Although COVID-19 has forced organizers to cancel parades planned across Canada, Kingsbury is certain some of her athletes will show their support in other ways.

Daoust, meanwhile, is getting set to host two weeks of virtual hockey camps and can’t wait to once again hit the ice. She has enjoyed time at home, working out in the gym she set up in her garage and spending time with Audrey and Mathéo.

Daoust is thankful for the support she has and continues to receive from family and friends. And, while she doesn’t consider herself a role model or someone who is going to boast about her personal life, she can see that her step to coming out may help others.

“I feel like if I can help someone else down the road be open about it, that is going to be something I’ll be happy about,” she says. “Because I think love has no sex, you just need to love who you want to love. That’s what matters. If you’re happy, then the people around you are going to be happy.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

 

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