Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sports on the Brain

There is a lot of sports and athletics around me. Last night I went and saw Jeff Sheng's "Fearless" photo exhibit, in which Jeff took incredibly good photos and captured the stories of high school and college athletes from around the nation. Go to for more on this fantastic exhibit. It is amazing to hear these coming out stories.

What was most amazing was this little fact: few women of color who are LGBTQ wanted to be photographed because they have a harder time in the field of athletics with more harassment than say white young out gay men.

Then there is this story from SI on Brendan Burke's father, Brian Burke, continues to tell the story of his gay son who died in a car accident. Brendan's dad is a hockey coach with the Olympic team:

The thrumming rain is a dreary counterpoint to the rainbow banners on the lampposts at the corner of Davie and Bute in the West End, heart of Vancouver's gay village. Steps away, at the entrance to Pride House, on the eve of the Winter Olympics' opening ceremonies, there is an inescapable truth: The heavens do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. When it rains, everyone gets wet.

Pride House is not like Molson Canadian Hockey House or Irish House or Casa Italia or any of the party houses that sprout during the Olympic fortnight to promote a brand or a nation. Pride House is an LGBT welcome center, and the building looks as if it would fit comfortably on the campus of a modestly funded state college. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was just held an hour earlier. Up a flight of stairs is a medical clinic, a TV room and an alcove with a long table on which there are glasses of white wine and plates of tired cold cuts.

"I love the man's attitude," Trevor MacNeil is saying. MacNeil is a hockey guy, a forward on the Cutting Edges, a team of gay players in a Vancouver adult league. "For Brian Burke to say, Yes, I drive a truck and I hunt, but Brendan's my son and I love him no matter what—well, for me that was shocking and great. It gives you a warm feeling knowing someone like him can be so affirmative. He's trying to make being gay in sports a nonissue. When I heard about his son's death and found links to some articles, that's when I learned Brendan had come out. I didn't realize Brendan was born in Vancouver."

So because Burke is general manager of Team USA, MacNeil might cheer for the Americans? "Hell, no," he says. "It's still Canada all the way. Brendan was Canadian."

What a world we live in.



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