On love and hockey;

Every once in a while I feel like breaking up my usual fluff in favor of some real content. I know in general content has been sparse here with school dragging me down and I was sick with what I liked to call a “hellfire demon virus” that had me delirious with a fever. But I’m here now.

I’ve often proclaimed my love for Toronto Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke. I enjoy his sassy bon mots he tosses at the media. I like that he attends games with a loosened tie and is often banging things out on his Blackberry. Oh and he brings binoculars to get a better view of fights from the box. He’s a character who savored the boos of Montreal Canadiens at the NHL draft. But I was even more impressed with Burke reading this article about his son, Brendan who talks about telling not only his family, but his hockey team that he is gay.

Burke’s reaction was basically, who cares? He still loves and adores his son regardless of his sexual orientation. In fact, he even went to a gay pride parade with Brendan. As I said on Pension Plan Puppets:  I wouldn’t expect anything less from Brian Burke. I think he is an amazing man and it’s wonderful that he is accepting of his son. What a fine display of being not only progressive, but what a father should be: loving and supportive. Some may think that this is a matter that should be private, but I absolutely applaud Brendan’s willingness to be open with his sexual orientation. Especially given the supremely rough and tumble reputation of sports and the response to homosexuals, it is refreshing that there is this story of hope. The slurs and the gender put downs just kill and it’d be nice to move beyond that.

Some roll their eyes at this story and the fact that Brendan is choosing to be public about his sexuality. One, at least Brendan was able to come out on his own  terms and he wasn’t outed by either vicious peers or a newspaper sensationalizing the story because of who his father is. Two, Brendan’s story needs to be out there. All too often there are those who make the courageous decision to come out to their family, only to be kicked out of their home or even worse. A person shouldn’t have to live in fear that their being honest could result in brutal violence. There is the heartbreaking story of Matthew Sheppard and these incidents still happen. There is still the fight in some states to acknowledge that assaulting a person for being gay is in fact a hate crime. We’ve come so far, but not really.

I’m glad that Brendan’s team embraced him as well. The bond of sports is a curious one and it is a heteronormative culture. Down Goes Brown made a point in the post on Pension Plan Puppets wondering just how many athletes quit because they cannot endure the homophobia and the slurs. And really, a person should not have to give up something they love because of others reactions to who they love. We need Brendan’s story in order to learn and move forward. Hopefully there will come a time, soon, when gay athletes are accepted and feel they can be open.

Before you open your mouth to sneer at Brendan’s story, just think there probably is someone close to you who would like to say they are gay, but are afraid of your reaction. Batting about the words queer, pussy and faggot are hurtful and demeaning. Move beyond that. You want to talk some trash? Be witty about it. Go in from a different angle. But don’t you ever attack someone for their sexuality. Or any other preferences of theirs for that matter.

Please support your local gay and lesbian alliances. They do appreciate the help of their straight counterparts. For information on helping the gay community, get acquainted with the Take Action page on the GLAAD website. You can also visit PFLAG. Please know you are not alone and there are those who will love and support you, perhaps they are not your nuclear family but they will care for you all the same.

Just read the article. It’s a bit long but very much worthwhile.

12 thoughts on “On love and hockey;

  1. “All too often there are those who make the courageous decision to come out to their family, only to be kicked out of their home or even worse. ”

    This I think is the most important. So many teenagers (in particular) are terrified to come out to their families because they are sure their parents – especially fathers of young men – will not understand, will hate them for it, and will cut them out of their lives. The fact that a young man could come out and his father could accept his homosexuality as only one element of who he is as a person and have his love for his own son be unaffected is something that should be noted.

  2. There were so many points about the article that could have been expanded upon, which is in itself a sign of a great piece. Yes, it was about Brendan’s courageous story of outing his sexuality, but the potential for a lot more words on other issues (the Miami team, Brian Burke and his comments about publicity, etc.) is encouraging. Hopefully, this is just a step towards more critical thinking about this issue, especially since you and many others live in a country where there are votes and debates raging on about same sex marriages and equal rights. Thanks for this response.

  3. thanks for posting this, well said. both the culture within sports and within sports fandom need a lot of work in this area; gay athletes, and fans of any gender/orientation, won’t be comfortable while anti-gay and anti-woman insults are still so common…obviously as a longtime blogger you know all about this, but it’s still new and challenging to me (and I’m trying not to ramble, so I’ll just say thanks again).

  4. Sorry you were sick. Glad you’re feeling better.

    I was so hellaciously busy that this barely pinged across my radar, but I’m so happy to see it. In most sports, homophobia is a problem, and it’s gonna take a lot of baby steps before the situation changes. I am very, very interested in how Brendan Burke’s career progresses.

    As a bi woman married to a lesbian, I can be made very uncomfortable as a fan. I am cagey about my “Beloved’s” gender on sports blogs, even though L’Ailee got me into hockey in the first place. Even though the best part of hockey for me, as well as her interest in NASCAR, is the way we’ve learned so much about each other and gotten deeper into each others’ worlds through our sports. Even though the fact that she loves the Red Wings means I can’t fully indulge in other Pens’ fans hatefests. I don’t participate in a few forums because of homophobia and sexism, which go together like peanut butter and jelly. And we’re cautious about expressing affection in or around the arena.

    It’s tougher for men–we’ve seen that with our friends. I can’t even begin to imagine the knots Brendan Burke, or any other gay or bi male who loves hockey and wants a future in it, tied himself into. He and his father have really put themselves into position to help. I hope someday soon it won’t be such an issue.

  5. I agree with this completely. Plus you’ve gotta give credit to Brendan because it obviously takes alot of guts to come out, especially in sport where there are very few openly gay athletes, or people in sport.

  6. thanks. no seriously. i dunno why i just got to reading this, but i did. and thanks. i married a hot broad long before it was the fashionable thing to do and while that didn’t work out i’m still proud of who i am, an will still shimmy up luke schenn like a lumberjack climbing a redwood in a competition. but point is, there ARE gay hockey players, there ARE gay NHL players, and the more exposure like this that can be gained, the better. so props to you sister girl. wanna make out? =D

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