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.