Jack Jablonski is ‘overwhelmed’ by positive response to coming out as gay

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Many Minnesotans have followed the story of Jack Jablonski. He was the St. Louis Park high school hockey player who became an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries after suffering one himself during a high school hockey game in 2011. He became paralyzed from the chest after this injury.

Today, he leads the Jack Jablonski Foundation, a charity he started a year after his accident to advance paralysis recovery treatments through research. He is also busy with his career as a digital media content specialist for the Los Angeles Kings NHL team. And last week he announced on social media that he was gay. He joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer to reflect on his experience.

What kind of response have you received since you came out last week?

What kind of response have you received since you came out last week?

It has been overwhelming in the best possible way. I was very grateful for all the positive responses on social media and personal messages. On the same subject : The Biden rule would strengthen health protections for gay and transgender people. It’s been a long time, but at the same time, it’s worth it since I had the opportunity to come out and be who I am publicly.

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As you started to question your sexuality when you were younger, how did that sports culture and what you know of it bump up against your inner struggle?

As you started to question your sexuality when you were younger, how did that sports culture and what you know of it bump up against your inner struggle?

Well, for me, I didn’t realize who I was until a little later in life. But during my high school experience, it was just confrontational because you look back and you have 20/20 hindsight. And for me, you can kind of put the pieces back together from when things started. On the same subject : Being gay is not a disease, Vietnam tells its medical workers to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination. They were two separate worlds for me and I didn’t understand how they could fit together. I am grateful that now it becomes a little more acceptable. But at the same time, they have to find their way together.

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How was the pandemic lockdown a turning point for you?

How was the pandemic lockdown a turning point for you?

I think for a lot of people, when you’re alone, or you don’t have much to do, your mind can kind of do its own thing, or the truth or the realization of a lot of things can happen. To see also : ‘My daughter happened because of the Gay Games’. And for me, with my injury, I’ve always been focused on keeping busy to avoid being alone or having my mind racing because it can often go into a black hole with paralysis and the realizing what life sometimes holds.

I didn’t fully realize my sexuality until COVID hit because that was when I was alone. I had moved to a new city after graduating from college in Los Angeles and that’s when it all clicked and for me, you know, in many ways, I’m glad it clicked, because I was finally able to get to the point where I am now and that’s being out there and proud.

But at the same time, it was also the start of some kind of dark days because of the realization of who I really was and what it was going to take me to become happy with who I was. And COVID was definitely the start of that. And he went down a dark road for a little while. But I’m here to tell the story and I’m happy with who I am and where I’m from.

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And you feel lighter, in a sense?

Yes, so much lighter. It was such a relief to be able to have the opportunity to tell my story and not hide in the shadows because for me it was something that ate me up at the end of the day. Now being able to let everyone know and go out and be myself is what is so important and so mentally healthy for me and anyone else who has been through this process can relate to that.

I know my family has been in contact with his family and obviously I will be just as well as this process continues. More importantly, you want to give space when needed. And everyone handles it differently in terms of the grievance process and reality, and then understanding the future. But life is not over after a spinal cord injury. There are so many reasons to live, there are so many things you can achieve in terms of career, but especially happiness.

Right now is such a vital time to focus on yourself and focus on recovery because with spinal cord injury, that immediate rehabilitation and some of the goals that you need to start setting are extremely important at this stage.

I wish Ethan and his family the best. And I hope I can be a part of his life by just helping him be an asset and a resource to hopefully live a good life.

I know you’re coming back for the Jablonski Gala on Oct. 15, right?

I know you're coming back for the Jablonski Gala on Oct. 15, right?

To correct. Yes, we have the annual Jablonski Foundation Gala. We raise funds for spinal cord injury research. We’ve made significant progress raising over $3 million in our nine-year history and we look forward to building on that momentum. For anyone interested in the gala or information about what we do, you can go to jablonskifoundation.org.

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Audio transcript

INTERVIEWER: Many Minnesotans have followed the Jack Jablonski story. He was the Saint Louis Park high school hockey player who became an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries after suffering one himself during a high school hockey game in 2011. He became paralyzed chest as a result of this injury. Today, he leads the Jack Jablonski Foundation, a charity he started a year after his accident to advance paralysis recovery treatments through research.

He is also busy with his career as a digital media content specialist for the Los Angeles Kings NHL team. And last week he announced on social media that he was gay. We wanted to talk to Jack about his announcement, so he’s online. Jack Jablonski, welcome to Minnesota Now. How have you been?

JACK JABLONSKI: I’m fine. It’s good to talk to you again.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Likewise. What response have you received since your release last week?

JACK JABLONSKI: It’s been overwhelming in the best way possible. I was very grateful for all the positive responses on social media and personal messages. And it’s – again, it’s been bottled up for quite a while, but at the same time, it’s been worth it because I’ve had the opportunity to come out and be who I am publicly.

INTERVIEWER: Glad to hear that. As you know, the sports world is not very welcoming to gay athletes, especially in high school. As you began to question your sexuality when you were younger, how did this culture and what you know about it clash with your inner struggle?

JACK JABLONSKI: Well, for me, I didn’t realize who I was until a little later in life, but during my high school experience, it was just contradictory, because you look back and you have from 20/20 hindsight, and for me, you can sort of put the pieces together of when things started, and that included being in high school. And it was one of those things where it was just two separate worlds for me. And I didn’t understand how they could go together, mainly because of how I was right there in terms of life.

But at the same time, it was definitely contradictory. And I’m thankful that at this point now it’s becoming a little more acceptable. But at the same time, these are two things that still need to work together.

INTERVIEWER: I wonder, I read the great article about you in “The Athletic”. How was the pandemic lockdown a turning point for you?

JACK JABLONSKI: Yeah, well, I think for a lot of people, when you’re alone or you don’t have much to do, your mind can kind of do its own thing, or the truth, or the accomplishment of many things. can somehow happen. And for me, with my injury, I’ve always been focused on keeping busy to avoid being alone or having my mind racing because it can often go into a black hole with paralysis and the realizing what life sometimes holds.

For me, I didn’t fully realize my sexuality until COVID hit because that was when I was on my own. I had moved to a new city after graduating from college in Los Angeles, and that’s when it all came together. And for me, in many ways, I’m glad it clicked because I was finally able to get to the point where I am now, and that’s to be proud and proud.

But at the same time, it was also the beginning of the dark days because of the realization of who I really was and what it was going to take to become happy with who I was. And COVID was definitely the start of that and it went down a dark road for a little while. But I’m here to tell the story, and I’m happy with who I am and where I’m from.

INTERVIEWER: And do you feel lighter in any way?

JACK JABLONSKI: So much. Yes, so much lighter. It was such a relief to be able to have the opportunity to tell my story and not hide in the shadows, because for me it was something that was eating me up inside. And at the end of the day, being able to now have everyone know, but just being able to go out and be myself is what’s so important and so mentally healthy to me. And anyone else who has gone through this process can relate.

INTERVIEWER: So I want to ask you another question. A freshman, as you know, at Bloomington Jefferson suffered a spinal cord injury during a football game earlier this month, in fact last week. What insights can you offer this young man and others going through this very difficult experience?

JACK JABLONSKI: Yes, absolutely. I know my family has been in touch with his family, Ethan, and obviously I will be too. As this process continues, the most important thing is to give space when it’s needed, and everyone handles it differently in terms of the grievance process and reality, and then understanding the coming.

But above all, life is not over after a spinal cord injury. There are so many reasons to live. There are so many things you can achieve in terms of career, but especially happiness. And right now is such a vital time to focus on yourself and focus on recovery, because with spinal cord injury, that immediate rehabilitation and understanding some of the goals that you need to start to fix and which you can hopefully focus on are extremely important at this stage.

And first of all, I wish Ethan and his family nothing but the best. And I hope I can be a part of his life by just helping him be an asset and a resource to hopefully live a good life.

INTERVIEWER: With my best 30 seconds left, I know you’ll be back for your Jablonski Foundation Gala on October 15th at the River Center, right?

JACK JABLONSKI: That’s right. Yes. We have the annual Jackson Jablonski Foundation gala. We raise funds for spinal cord injury research. We have made significant progress, raising over $3 million in 9 years of existence. And we look forward to continuing. And for anyone interested in the gala or information about what we’re doing, you can head over to JablonskiFoundation.org.

INTERVIEWER: Great. Jack, it’s so good to hear your voice again. Thanks a lot. Good luck.

JACK JABLONSKI: Thank you very much. And I appreciate you letting me tell my story.

INTERVIEWER: Take care of yourself. Jack Jablonski, he works for the LA Kings hockey team. He directs the Jack Jablonski Foundation.

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