Friday, November 27, 2009


Brian Burke is the President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. His son Brendan is a former goalie and holds a staff position with the highly regarded University of Miami (Ohio) hockey team, currently ranked first in the NCAA. The hockey world – long a bastion of machismo – hasn’t had an openly gay figure within it, until now. Brendan Burke disclosed his homosexuality in an interview with this week, and it has attracted a lot of attention for both son and, here in Toronto, for father as well. Brian Burke, a quintessential hockey tough guy, has responded with nothing but loving and supportive comments for his boy. “I just wish every parent could experience having a child like him,” he said, who recognizes the trail-blazing position that both he and his son are now in. “I've got six kids, I drive a truck, I own a shotgun and I chew tobacco, so sure, this adds a different dimension,” he said. “This isn't about me and it isn't about the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's about a young man who has done something that takes a lot of courage. But if my acceptance can turn into more acceptance on the part of other people, that's great.” Brian Burke understands that his position in the sports world has given him a chance to send a very strong message with respect to this family development, and he has done so with clarity and class. Brendan’s boss had been similarly supportive in his public comments, and the younger Burke has also been impressive in his communications: “Imagine if I was in the opposite situation, with a family that wouldn't accept me, working for a sports team where I knew I couldn't come out because I'd be fired or ostracized,” Brendan told “People in that situation deserve to know that they can feel safe, that sports isn't all homophobic and that there are plenty of people in sports who accept people for who they are.” Sure, it’s hockey, but it’s still Touchdowns all around.

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