Sometimes something happens that transcends all our petty differences as hockey fans, which team we follow, which players we like and dislike, which team’s fans we just can’t stand on a normal day.
This is one of those events.
For those of you who haven’t heard, Brian Burke’s son Brendan was killed in a car accident this afternoon. Currently, as of 11 PM EST, “Brendan Burke” is trending worldwide on Twitter.
Most of us were first introduced to Brendan through the ESPN story on how he came out to his parents. His story is staggering, both with what he went through initially to keep his sexuality a secret, and then the bravery he showed in actually coming out to his parents despite hockey culture’s frequently anti-gay stance. As well as being a clearly devoted and loving son, Brendan was clearly a very strong young man.
As his father, Leafs GM Brian Burke said in their ESPN article,
“I hope the day comes, and soon, when this is not a story.”
Sadly, as I watch many of my close GLBT friends come out, fall in love, and be denied not only the humanity and understanding of their parents and friends but also basic rights given to other couples, that day seems atrociously far away.
But here, to keep Brendan Burke’s memory alive, you can make a difference:
Donate or volunteer to work with Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), or your a local GLBT rights organization.
In Canada, support the work of Egale, PFLAG Canada, or your local GLBT rights group.
PFlag USA and PFlag Canada. The HRC and if you search for it, a myriad of other GLBT awareness, activism and news feeds.
Although we may have lost a great man, the legacy of Brendan Burke is one that can be carried on into the future. In the same way that hockey fans have come together in this amazing outpouring of support both initially as Brendan came out, and now for his family in their hour of loss, we can also serve as an important catalyst to make sure that his story continues to be told and someday, as per his father’s wishes, a gay athlete doesn’t have to be labeled, and can be just an athlete.
RIP Brendan Burke and Mark Reedy. Our thoughts are with you and your families.