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‘Roleplaying as two straight bros going to a game’: LGBTQ2S+ spectators’ experiences at NHL arenas
Leisure Studies  (IF2.949),  Pub Date : 2021-07-10, DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2021.1948598
Bridgette M. Desjardins

ABSTRACT

While significant attention has been paid to the experiences of queer athletes and sport participants, comparatively little work has explored queer sport fans’ leisure experiences in sport stadiums. Focusing on professional men’s hockey fandom, this empirical study asks: what are the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+) spectators at National Hockey League games in Canada? Interviews with 24 diversely identified queer spectators reveal significant variation in experiences, from positive to neutral to negative, and a welcome lack of virulent or aggressive homophobia and transphobia. Most queer spectators perceive the arena space as heteronormative, which often results in feelings of non-belonging. Using de Certeau’s theorisation of tactics, this paper explores how queer spectators modify their behaviour – including minimising and maximising queer visibility – to smoothly navigate the heteronormative arena space. This paper contributes to understandings of homophobia and queer belonging in leisure spaces.