Sunday, March 4, 2012

You Can Play

Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, tragically lost his son Brendan in a car accident in February of 2010, mere months after Brendan had revealed a deeply-held secret to his father: he was gay. In a sport in which machismo and ruggedness define its players and "casual homophobia" is the operative norm in locker rooms, Brendan had struggled mightily with his decision to go public with his sexual orientation. But his courage to finally do so gave hope to so many other LGBT athletes across the world of sports who fear having their skill and ability undermined by arcane and bigoted perceptions of "softness."

When Brendan came out to his father, one of the most brilliant and respected minds in the game and a man who throughout his career was the epitome of Hockey Tough Guy, he was afraid of a lot of things, but mostly that his father would be disappointed in him. Instead, Brian Burke couldn't have been prouder of his son. To honor Brendan's legacy and to help foster an environment in hockey in which LGBT players do not feel prejudiced, unwelcome, disrespected, or openly reviled, Brian Burke and Brendan's brother Patrick have started the You Can Play project with the assistance of many high-profile NHLers like Rick Nash, Claude Giroux, and Henrik Lundqvist to name a few. It's message is simple and resonates; if you can play, you can play, and nothing else matters:

h/t Puck Daddy.

Step into the rain:

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