Brendan Burke | Hockey | News | Sports

Watch: Brian and Brendan Burke on Gays in Hockey, Coming Out


On Wednesday, I posted about an ESPN story onToronto Maple Leafs and U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Brian Burke, and his son Brendan's coming out. Brendan is on the staff of Miami University's #1 hockey team.

The story has received much attention in the hockey world. Brendan and Brian did an interview with The Sports Network (TSN) in Canada, talking about the decision to go public with their story.

Watch it (as well as some commentary on reactions to the story), AFTER THE JUMP...

Brianburke Said Brian of Brendan in 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."

Brendan also gave an interview to Canada's Globe and Mail. "Like I've said before, my experience [with homophobia in the locker room] was basically with homophobic slurs and that kind of stuff. I think as soon as the stereotype of a gay person was replaced by someone they knew, or were friends with, it changed. Once they realized there might be a gay person next to them or a gay person in the locker room, the homophobia decreased greatly."

Watch the TSN interview and viewer reaction, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. I am glad this story has legs, I just emailed the link to my family and friends. This brave young man and his father will give strength and understanding to many more. Just another great example of the good work Andy does.

    Peace to all.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 28, 2009 11:57:20 AM

  2. wonderful, both reports. thank you for posting.

    Posted by: LD | Nov 28, 2009 12:40:37 PM

  3. Kudos to TSN for their fair analysis and treatment of this story. Brendan courage is inspiring, but like Patrick noted, he is not alone. There will never be the right time to change a person's heart, it all starts with a honest dialog and an open mind (and that applies to all involved).

    Posted by: Rafael | Nov 28, 2009 12:54:39 PM

  4. The only negative response from my family was from my born again Evangelist Minister brother, who by the way is a former alcoholic and drug user, who repeatability beat me and my older brother.
    Hi Pat,

    Please do not send me these type of emails. You know that I do not share your views.


    This from a person who gives out his pamphlets that say I'm going to burn in hell for being gay. He also gave them to my parents and siblings for not being born again, being Catholic was not good enough in his book. I'm glad his four kids don't think his way, which is why I'll go to his daughter's wedding next month. As they told me, they don't think like their dad, thank God.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 28, 2009 3:01:19 PM

  5. Before some purist jumps on the Dad, sure, he's not gotten the Word Choice Memo about "lifestyle" and "choices," but neither have a lot of gays.

    That said, I repeat and amplify my earlier comment:

    "I stand beside him with an axe!" should become the latest slogan on 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 in Maine, and California last year. Their witnessing to the love for their children is wonderful ... but it’s not their fault that that, ALONE, is a poor substitute for a campaign strategy. 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 other person’s family or yours?

    Even legendary French humanist existentialist Albert Camus once said, "I believe in justice, but I would defend my mother before justice."

    The hyperbole of "I stand beside him with an axe" [or something like it] replaces the totally ineffectual standalone Kumbaya crap [which Equality Maine, deep in post loss denial, is still almost pathologically defending] with the message:

    "ATTENTION! MY family is just as good, just as American, just as deserving of equal protection and opportunity as anyone else's and I will stand up to/fight any bigot who says differently, and continue to fight until the bigots lose." If the threat to our rights is to be taken seriously by others we must treat it as something more than a gay Hallmark card commercial.

    Polarizing????? Honey, THAT ship sailed a long time ago...or did you miss Anita in Miami in 1977 through Prop H8TE last year and Maine 1 this month?

    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."

    Posted by: Michael | Nov 28, 2009 3:04:33 PM

  6. @Patrick in NYC:

    What a jerk your brother is--though I suspect he knows he's the one slated for the big burn, not you.

    It's nice he woke up one day and realized he was living a corrupt, destructive life, but simply accepting jeebus doesn't wipe his record clean.

    And he's a fucker for not seeing that condemning you is just as shitty as beating you.

    Posted by: sean in dallas | Nov 28, 2009 4:04:44 PM

  7. You have to love Canada. Too many Americans look down their noses at our neighbors to the north, but they are far more progressive than the Puritan U.S. In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, although most provinces allowed same-sex marriages to be performed since 2003.

    Watch TV programs produced in Canada. They positively portray same-sex couples. Such portrayals are old hat. Kids in the Hall were decades ahead of American comedy troupes (actually, Monty Python were even ahead of them). HGTV and Fine Living Channel, which have a predominance of Ontario-produced programming, include gay and lesbian couples in many shows.

    In Canada, having a respected hockey commentator make such a strongly-worded statement in support of young gay men in sport is huge. It is the equivalent of a World Series or Super Bowl analyst doing this in the U.S., and we know THAT won't happen anytime soon. He is not afraid to take on the homophobes who tune into his program with a Molson's in hand and hate in their hearts. If only American TV sportscasters had the strength of character to do the same.

    Posted by: Tim | Nov 28, 2009 9:19:35 PM

  8. We've had a similar experience in Ireland, albeit on a smaller scale, but nonetheless
    groundbreaking.......the goalkeeper for Cork Senior Hurling team, Donal Og Cusack, has come out two weeks ago.......this is a major step forward for public acceptance in sports. Hurling is incredibly tough and ferociously fast. These guys who come out deserve our thanks and admiration.
    Canada is a beacon of tolerance.
    I too stand beside these guys with an axe !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 29, 2009 4:43:51 AM

  9. Gentlemen,

    Mr. Burke is AMERICAN, not Canadian. He is from Boston (Canton), Massachusetts. Which by the way allows gay marriage and pretty much every other 'Gay' civil rights available in any other 'Progressive' jurisdiction in the world, which is only a small portion of our planet.

    I an an American INTIMATELY familiar with Canada and Canadian culture. It is 99% identical to American. Canadians ARE NOT morally or ethically superior on average to Americans. The average American is no more or less 'Puritanical' than the average Canadian, or average European for that matter. Don't judge the average citizens attitude by their countries laws, especially when said laws are primarily the result of court action. And in Europe the gay civil rights laws enacted in some places were done so with little input from the average citizen.


    In my BROAD experience, Canadians LOVE mocking and ridiculing America and Americans FAR MORE than the other way around. Canadian nationalism is built primarily on anti-Americanism for anti-Americanisms sake.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 29, 2009 4:03:35 PM

  10. Tim

    Yes we love to mock the States, because we live next door to a country ten times our size in population, otherwise we would be swamped by American "Culture", we are not anti American it's just we can sit by and watch on TV, Online etc on how American society runs, it's a fact of Canadian life!,

    A famous author once said Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States while Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada. How many Canadian networks do YOU get on cable or satelite TV?
    You may be familiar with us the VAST majority of your countrymen are not, to them we live in the snow and still watch Bob and Doug McKenzie adnaseum, and that we are a colony of Great Britian, Culturally in manyways we are a colony of you!

    Posted by: Darrell | Nov 30, 2009 2:49:48 AM

  11. John--Canada is 99% identical to America, and that the average American is no more puritanical than the average Canadian?

    *Spit take*

    Dude, do you live in a cave? 6 in 10 people in America DON'T BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION. Canada, for whatever reasons, has always been a way more secular society than America. And ideologically, the average Canadian differs from the average American on a whole range of things: health care, politically, the financial system, the outside world!!, gay marriage, blah blah blah. The list really does go on and on. Have you been there? It's a whole 'nother, different Country!

    And respectfully, John; you, a gay guy in Boston, probably does not represent the worldview of the "average American".

    Posted by: Jack A | Nov 30, 2009 3:57:56 AM

  12. BRAVO for Brendan and his father!

    Posted by: RedCedar | Nov 30, 2009 4:02:46 AM

  13. Brian Burke may be American by birth, but Brendan was born in Canada.

    I lived in the US for a while, near Washington DC, and even in that city, people were quite ignorant about Canada.

    Posted by: marc | Nov 30, 2009 4:41:09 PM

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