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Brian and Brendan Burke Busting Homophobia in Pro Hockey

Burke

Here's a great piece at ESPN about Toronto Maple Leafs and U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Brian Burke, and his son Brendan's coming out:

"Your dad thinks through everything. Dad is big, confident and continuously radiates a persona that is rough, gruff, unrelenting and unapologetic. He has a cold, expressionless poker face straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie. Yet, he does this all with the most subtle of Irish smirks that says there is more behind this thick skin. And there is. He calls you "Moose" because you have always been a big kid. He cares very deeply about you and your happiness. You say he has always been there when you needed him. And he has a great sense of humor. Imagine that. But on this night in 2007, you are petrified of your dad. Because you, Brendan Burke, at 19 years old, are about to tell your dad, Mr. Testosterone, that you are gay."

BrendanbrianBrendan, a player himself,  now works for the staff of the No.1-ranked hockey team at Miami University.

Here's a statement from Brian, from the article:

"I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan. This news didn't alter any of them. I would prefer Brendan hadn't decided to discuss this issue in this very public manner. There will be a great deal of reaction, and I fear a large portion will be negative. But this takes guts, and I admire Brendan greatly, and happily march arm in arm with him on this. There are gay men in professional hockey. We would be fools to think otherwise. And it's sad that they feel the need to conceal this. I understand why they do so, however. Can a gay man advance in professional hockey? He can if he works for the Toronto Maple Leafs! Or for Miami University Hockey. God bless Rico Blasi! And I am certain these two organizations are not alone here. I wish this burden would fall on someone else's shoulders, not Brendan's. Pioneers are often misunderstood and mistrusted. But since he wishes to blaze this trail, I stand beside him with an axe! I simply could not be more proud of Brendan than I am, and I love him as much as I admire him." -- Brian Burke

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Comments

  1. Now THAT'S a Dad.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Nov 25, 2009 8:43:58 AM


  2. Wow.

    Posted by: tooboot | Nov 25, 2009 8:50:00 AM


  3. Well I cried for the first time since seeing Milk. What a wonderful story, I am thankful for reading it today. I wonder if Brendan would consider playing again, since it sounds like he gave it up for reasons that may no longer be an obstacle he cannot overcome.

    Posted by: Ted | Nov 25, 2009 9:07:44 AM


  4. Um I like the story, but it feels incomplete....I mean I feel like I'm missing the part where the son came out and how it was done stuff like that. But Cool to see a dad stand by his gay sons side.

    Posted by: J. Bocca | Nov 25, 2009 9:13:06 AM


  5. @TOOBOOT

    My sentiments exactly.

    Posted by: Aaron Akins | Nov 25, 2009 9:13:51 AM


  6. Wow, wow, wow... That's everything you could want from your parent.

    How lucky they both are.

    Posted by: RONTEX | Nov 25, 2009 9:14:31 AM


  7. What an awesome and honest statement from Brian Burke.

    It's great that he's so supportive of his son and yet willing to acknowledge the fears he has about the consequences his son could face for his very public statement.

    I know a lot of parents share the fear of violent or hurtful reprisal when their teens come out (including my own) and it's important that those fears be acknowledged. Parents and allies shouldn't be afraid to admit their fears about their out kids safety and well being.

    I think a lot of parental rejection and refusal to accept out LGBT youth has to do with that same fear. Parents are innately protective and if they all felt as comfortable talking about their fears as Burke, we might have far fewer homeless queer youth.

    Just my two cents.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Nov 25, 2009 9:15:24 AM


  8. An amazing display of the mixed emotions, struggles and dueling priorities that come with being a loving, supportive, protective father.

    He wants SO much for SOMEONE to bravely and selflessly stand up for fairness and justice in sport, weathering the hate and ignorance surely to come that brave person's way; he just wishes that it wasn't HIS son.

    WOW! As a father I SO understand this torturous dilema. All you can do is be proud, supportive and protective and hope against hope that your son knows what he's getting himself into and is strong enough to endure it. NO parent wants to see his/her child hated or hurt.

    AMAZING son! AMAZING dad!

    Blessings to you both!

    Posted by: Zeke | Nov 25, 2009 10:16:00 AM


  9. AARON, spot on!

    I couldn't have expressed it better myself!

    Posted by: Zeke | Nov 25, 2009 10:17:30 AM


  10. I have two new heroes now.

    Posted by: michael | Nov 25, 2009 10:29:36 AM


  11. As a '87 Miami U alumni I am proud of them, the school, and the great small town of Oxford, OH. Go Red Hawks! (back then the Redskins)

    Posted by: Chris | Nov 25, 2009 10:39:08 AM


  12. To J. Bocca, the link at the top of this posting takes you to the full story from ESPN and will answer your questions. Great article although I don't care for the write choosing to tell the story in the second person way. But what great content!

    Posted by: Rann | Nov 25, 2009 10:50:19 AM


  13. ......thank God for an enlightened country to the north of us....Canada.

    Posted by: Chris | Nov 25, 2009 11:26:23 AM


  14. I am happy to say that my Dad would have done the same thing. Out relationship has only gotten closer since I came out 27 years ago...and continues to do so.

    Posted by: joe | Nov 25, 2009 11:45:06 AM


  15. ANDY thanks for this great story, I immediately sent it to my family. I came out to them in '83, the younger 2 brothers were fine, the older 2, my sister and parents were not. It took us a few years but they are all cool now. With my 23 nephews and nieces it's a non-issue.

    If anyone is interested here are both the author @ espn and Bill Burke's email addresses, I sent them both a thank you.

    john.buccigross@espn.com

    Biil Burke's - http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=42206

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 25, 2009 11:49:14 AM


  16. The power of love. Powerful stuff.
    Now if the rest of the world could just catch up.

    Posted by: SFshawn | Nov 25, 2009 11:54:40 AM


  17. What a *great* father!! Brendan is a lucky guy.

    Posted by: peterparker | Nov 25, 2009 12:17:07 PM


  18. I propose that the father's comment

    "I stand beside him with an axe!"

    be used as a PFLAG t-shirt and, more importantly, one of the slogans for the next marriage equality campaign.

    Yes, yes, yes. I genuinely applaud and praise every parent of gays who have appeared in print and TV ads. It's not their fault that the campaign "strategists" from CA to Maine have still not gotten that expressions of love and, goodness gracious, UNFAIRNESS alone in gay and gay ally family commercials mean nothing to the moveable middle terrorized by the ruthless JudeoXristo fascists' commercials into believing that helping our kids will somehow hurt THEIRS. Yes, OF COURSE, they should know better...but if they did already such things wouldn't end up on the ballot. Which would YOU choose if you were convinced [however dishonestly] that YOUR family was in danger?

    The hyperbole of "I stand beside him with an axe" [or something like it] replaces the totally ineffectual Kumbaya crap with the message:

    "ATTENTION! MY family is just as good, just a American, just a deserving of equal protection and opportunity as yours and I will stand up to/fight anyone who says differently."

    Polarizing????? Honey, THAT ship sailed a long time ago...or did you miss Anita in Miami in 1977 through Prop H8TE last year?

    ENOUGH with the goddamn, "Oh, please Mr. Bill, don't hurt me" ad campaigns.

    As the song line goes: "It's not the earth the meek inherit but the dirt."

    BRAVO, Coach/Father Burke [and his courageous son]!!!

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Nov 25, 2009 1:17:36 PM


  19. My co-workers are looking at me, wondering why I have tears in my eyes.

    "But on this night in 2007, you are petrified of your dad"

    That was me in 1985, with my hyper-macho ex-military Dad. After the initial shock, he smirked at me "You know, you could have done a better job of hiding it". [puzzled looks from me] "You think I didn't put 2 and 2 together when you were listening to Elton John and David Bowie nonstop?". Hahahaha.

    Great story, Brian Burke did a great job when he was GM of my favorite NHL team, the Canucks. If he's in charge and the Leafs win the Stanley Cup, he'll be a God in Toronto forever.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Nov 25, 2009 1:40:41 PM


  20. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first NHL team to allow their name and likeness used in a gay-themed movie, "Breakfast with Scot". It's a wonderful movie - and just goes to show that even in hockey, inroads are being made.

    Posted by: Walter H. | Nov 25, 2009 2:12:07 PM


  21. "I stand beside him with an axe!"

    I wish my waste of a father had said that instead of "birds of a feather flock together and you can't flock here" right before he threw me out of the house.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Nov 25, 2009 2:54:20 PM


  22. What a most amazing article. I couldn't get through it without crying, both from the memories of my own coming out and the hope and love with which the writer imbued the article. Best wishes to both Brendan and Brian Burke--a terrific example of true family love.

    Posted by: RJ | Nov 25, 2009 6:51:13 PM


  23. I sent an email to ESPN, the author emailed back his thanks, he was very humble. I also sent one to the Maple Leafs to Mr Burke's attention. I don't care for a reply but we should all applaud these people when they show such love and support to us. It takes as much time as it does to post here or scroll on. Take a minute, thank a real hero.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 25, 2009 8:27:56 PM



  24. It goes to show you that when a society is somewhat progressive, such as here in Canada it filters down into the mainstream, Make no mistake there are A LOT of homophobes here in the great white north, but the vast majority of Canadians have a live and let live attitude. Though with full Constitutional Rights this tempers outbursts to a minimum since it could be regarded as a hate crime, That most Canucks would support, that the Burkes have the strength and guts to voice their experience is a testament to the strength of their family, someth9ing that fringe family value groups in the US could learn from. congratulations to them both, this beats winning the Stanley Cup anyday.

    Posted by: Darrell | Nov 26, 2009 8:31:49 PM


  25. I've noticed that a lot of you queers will cry at the opening of an envelope.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 26, 2009 8:57:40 PM


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