HRC Blog

Pro Hockey GM: “A Gay Player is Welcome Here”

Brian Burke is often asked about what it would be like for a National Hockey League player to come out to his teammates. The president and general manager of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs has more knowledge of this than most people in his field – his son, Brendan, came out publicly in 2009.

At the time, Brendan was a student manager for the Miami University men’s ice hockey team, and his courageous story sparked discussions across North America about homophobia in sports. Again, the question was raised – when will we see the first openly gay pro athlete?

We’ll know soon enough, Brian Burke insisted in a recent interview with the Canada’s CBC network. But Brendan won’t have a chance to embrace this player in the same way that the sports world embraced him. He was killed in a car accident in 2010, just a few short months after he came out.

Brian Burke now regularly speaks out in support of LGBT youth, about the importance of accepting everyone for who they are, and about his son’s courage.

As for the first openly gay NHL player, Burke had this to say: “It's going to happen, and it's gonna take less courage than that player thinks … I think he's gonna find … that hill's a lot less steep than he thinks it is. That there's a lot of support. I know the players on our team have all spoken to me about it, and said, absolutely. A gay player is welcome here.”

Watch the full CBC interview here:

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