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“You Can Play” project

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By Adam Bink

The NHL hasn’t always been a welcoming environment for either fans or players. During last year’s playoffs, I wrote in this space about my experience as a fan in hostile territory watching a Sabres/Flyers game in Philly:

I had the privilege (and terrifying experience) of going to a Buffalo Sabres/Philadelphia Flyers game the other night in Philadelphia. Having been to an Eagles game and having several Philadelphia sports fans I can call friends, I knew the scene can be rather, well, unwelcoming for opposing fans. Nevertheless, me and two friends donned our Sabres gear and made the trek. I won’t go into all the details of how rough it was, but I will put it this way: the arena had to have security guards tail us when we went to the bathroom. My Sabres with our all-world goaltender Ryan Miller won in overtime, so it was all worth it, though.

The reason I’m writing is because it really was a case study of how far we have to go culturally. I and my two straight friends were called “fag” or “faggot” around two dozen times; male fans in our section would shout “Ryan Miller loves penis!” “Ryan Miller hit on me!” “Are you guys in a three-way relationship or what?” “I heard Buffalo has more fag bars than straight bars!” and other epithets along that general theme. This went on for about three hours or so. It was interesting because one fan also kept shouting “Go back to Canada, Buffalo fans! Canada sucks!” until one fellow Flyers fan turned to him to point out that he was from Canada, as were most of the players on the ice. We all got a good laugh at him, and he replied “darn, now I got no ammo left!” Apparently his “ammo” left was targeting gay people.

We let it roll off us, but during the second intermission one of the louder Philly fans sat down and put his hand on my shoulder to say “hey, it’s all in good fun… I would never do anything like what happened at that Dodgers game” (where a fan ended up in a medically-induced coma because of attacks). I wanted to turn to him and ask why he would slander gays with that kind of language if he wouldn’t do the same because someone were a different race, or a woman. I wanted to ask the Philly fans around me (several of whom quietly apologized to us for their fellow fans’ behavior) why they didn’t tell him to lay off the gays like they told him to lay off Canada.

I bet some of the fans screaming at us actually support making it illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation, probably support basic access to rights like hospital visitation, and maybe even marriage. But when it comes to singling out people, gays still make an easy target.

More recently, the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds called Sean Avery of the NY Rangers a “fucking faggot,” without response or punishment from the NHL or the Philadelphia Flyers. Kobe Bryant did the same with swift action from the NBA.

A new project — the “You Can Play” Project, launched by the family of openly gay player Brendan Burke who tragically passed away in 2010 — aims to combat some of that, with players from around the league reiterating a welcome environment:

Players speaking to fans and other players is certainly the way to go. I have a longer piece to write about this someday, but the audience for the It Gets Better Project are victims and potential victims of bullying along with their allies– not the bullies themselves. There is no viral media project telling bullies to cut it out, using their role models as messengers. This might crack that code.

As I titled the post linked at the top, we have a long way to go to make cultural norms catch up with laws. Here’s hoping this is a start.

44 Comments

  • 1. Sagesse  |  March 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I heard this on the radio this morning, but didn't have time to look for a write up. Pretty neat, huh?

  • 2. Bob  |  March 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Yes well said ,, way to go Brian Burke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 3. Gregory in SLC  |  March 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    beautiful..so simple. Love is love. Marriage is marriage. If you can play, you can play.

  • 4. Kate  |  March 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I can't post on the NOMblog site. Can someone here who can still get through their "gay firewall" post the link to the "8" YouTube video? NOM, of course, is totally ignoring its existence. If you're willing to post, make sure you point out that the actors are reading directly from the TRIAL RECORD and are not making up their lines! Those NOMbies need to see how their witnesses performed on the stand and how their alleged dream attorney, Cooper, faltered and collapsed. Too funny that THIS is the reality, while NOM posts a piece claiming that Olson and Boies are "afraid" of an en banc hearing and SCOTUS!

  • 5. Reformed  |  March 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    There, done, lets see how lon git stays up.

    3. Reformed
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
    Brad Pitt and George Clooney lend star power and acting skills to support marriage.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlUG8F9uVgM

  • 6. Reformed  |  March 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    And again in the 2nd blog post.

    5. Reformed
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink
    Well, lets have a look see at the trial . . .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlUG8F9uVgM

  • 7. kate  |  March 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Yep – one of them is already saying the video is "made up propaganda. " Go get 'em, Reformed!

  • 8. Straight Dave  |  March 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    "Made up propaganda", eh? NOM sure ought to know all about that.

    In their very next blog post http://www.nomblog.com/20091 about Bishops of England & Wales Plan to Rally 1 Million+ Catholics for Marriage, their photo of a purported "massive showing of support for marriage in the UK" is in fact a photo from an annual Catholic festival in the Philippines http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/photos/filipinos….

    There are 75 million Catholics in the Philippines, 3rd largest worldwide after Brazil and Mexico. England and Wales have a total of only 4 million, and you'd never get them all out of their homes at once to march in a mob like that.

    These NOM guys are such a freakin joke.

  • 9. kate  |  March 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Can you get through to post that info, Dave? Those people should see how they're being lied to again.

  • 10. Straight Dave  |  March 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I got my comment posted!!! — first time ever. It says awaiting moderation, but it's visible to me now (maybe only to me?). http://www.nomblog.com/20091/comment-page-1/?doin

    2. Philippine D
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Gee, that looks a lot like the Black Nazarene festival in Manila earlier this year. Great mob of Catholics there, too. http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/photos/filipinos

  • 11. renecito  |  March 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I think your post got removed from NOM, great catch on the Photo stealing

  • 12. renecito  |  March 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I found the photographer that took those pics, Ted Aljibe and linked him to NOM's post stealing his photos with no credit. (Im a photographer BTW)

  • 13. Straight Dave  |  March 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    And here I thought I was being very low key so they wouldn't get alarmed. Awful sensitive bunch they are. Or paranoid.
    They know they screwed up, got busted, and don't want anyone to know about it.

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Excellent!

  • 15. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:39 am

    If you can see the "awaiting moderation" Dave, you might as well give up. Only you can see the post. Mine stay "awaiting" for several hours and then are gone. Once again, I simply tried to tell those people that the "Hollywood actors" they decry were READING FROM THE TRIAL TRANSCRIPT. Obviously, none of them bothered to watch the video, or they'd already know that. Instead, they just brush it away as "propaganda." God said so.

  • 16. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Hurray! Let's hope he pulls a Peter, Paul and Mary on them………….. The contents of the Internet are not there for NOM's free use, although they certainly appear to believe that way. (Another instance of God saying they can use anything they want and also mislabel it.)

  • 17. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:54 am

    OMG!!!!!!!! I think I actually got one through before "moderation" kicked it out! Please come support me, folks; I hate being attacked by those idiots…………

  • 18. DaveP  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Wow, deja vu. Remember that this is the exact same stunt they pulled earlier, when they used a photo from an Obama rally photoshopped along with a photo of a NOM podium at one of their tiny little rallies to try to make it look like they had a bazillion people at their rally (again, with no permission from the photographer). If I remember correctly they got very publicly busted on that one, including coverage on Rachel Maddow. OK, let's start spreading the word about this one too.

  • 19. MightyAcorn  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Dave, of all the crowd photos in the whole wide world, how did you figure out it was that one? Rock on.

  • 20. Straight Dave  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Do they let *anything* thru anymore, other than a far-right ignorant screed? Methinks the wagons are being circled. I see Hitler cowering in his underground bunker as the Russian army approaches and the whole city collapses above him. "Eva! I need you here, close to me, my darling."

    "Brian! I need you over here, now. Close to me. These are desperate times. Fear not, it will be quick."

  • 21. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Yes, Dave; inquiring minds want to know! Perhaps a right-click on the image? I think I'll go try that myself and see.

    Also, for some reason I've actually gotten through the equality firewall over and made some posts this morning. But I need back up! The regulars will just call me a liar.

  • 22. Straight Dave  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I work for the CIA.
    Actually, I'm really hoping NOM starts thinking the same thing so they'll get spooked.

  • 23. Kathleen  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

    The email from the court in Perry is notice of a formality – approval of SF's request to file its amended response. The entirely of the order is the text in the email.

  • 24. MightyAcorn  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

    so they'll get spooked.

    As it were. :)

  • 25. Gregory in SLC  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Adam / Jacob – can we get Jeremy…or Rachael Maddow to "announce" this?

  • 26. Gregory in SLC  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I sent an email to courage campaign and Rachael@msnbc.com thanks all for exposing this!

  • 27. Suzanne  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I can see your post on NOM blog, Kate! Two of them!

  • 28. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Isn't that incredible!!!! Definitely a first. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket with the run I've had today.

  • 29. Straight Dave  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I keep trying, Kate. Maybe I'm just flat-out blacklisted, though I don't know why since I never tried to post until this week. Even tongue-in-cheek stuff that's designed for them to like gets cut.

  • 30. Bob  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

    good job Greg,,,, by the way you all know, this is not a first time thing for NOM,,, a few months back right here in Vancouver Canada,, there was an issue with the anti bullying program in a school,,,,, two people from the school board where interviewed about it,,, by Nom,,,, who hi-jacked that interview and used it of course against ssm saying it will equate to euducation about gay marriage,,,, it was in our news,,, and I think the persons interviewed had taken exception to NOM using it in their marriage campaign,,,, I posted about that at the time,,, so it's a habit of NOM

  • 31. renecito  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Im sure NOM is reading us all here hehe

  • 32. Californiaesque  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Picked this up on the NOM Blog: http://www.citizenlink.com/2012/03/02/analysis-an

    Any opinions to share on its conclusions?

  • 33. rocketeer500  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Here's my post to NOM:

    rocketeer500
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Not sure how sucessfull the RCC will be with their joint letter, since the official state church is the Church of England.

    I wonder if they'll post it?

  • 34. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Nope. Not if it says "moderation" above it. Mine that have actually gone through did so immediately.

  • 35. Bob  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

    <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=newssearch&cd=2&cts=1331060977330&ved=0CDMQqQIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2 Fwww.vancourier.com%2FLawyer%2Btells%2BVision%2BVancouver%2Bschool%2Bboard%2Btrustees%2Bhalt%2Bdefamatory%2Bstatements%2F6122720%2Fstory.html&ei=9l5WT8XXFqnaiQKpkMXrBw&usg=AFQjCNETJ3SuBYmME-P3k2XmQxY2uIWhVA&sig2=iWHk4zBxnoDNqRzKHaxshA” target=”_blank”>http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&a…” target=”_blank”>Fwww.vancourier.com%2FLawyer%2Btells%2BVision%2BVancouver%2Bschool%2Bboard%2Btrustees%2Bhalt%2Bdefamatory%2Bstatements%2F6122720%2Fstory.html&ei=9l5WT8XXFqnaiQKpkMXrBw&usg=AFQjCNETJ3SuBYmME-P3k2XmQxY2uIWhVA&sig2=iWHk4zBxnoDNqRzKHaxshA don't know if the link to the story is correct but lawyers requested NOM to stop using the video, footage

  • 36. Bob  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

    http://www.vancourier.com/Vision+dominated+school… sorry about the above mix up,,, hope this gets the story,,,, about NOM being asked by the lawyers to remove content from their website,,,,

  • 37. Kate  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Yes, they've done that for years. Sometimes we find ourselves quoted there when it was something we posted here.

  • 38. Reformed  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I was wondering about that, but thought they would have learned by now. My first reaction was . . .

    This is probably a photograph of m&ms, but surely not . . :)

  • 39. renecito  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I screen captured both pages and added links to the 2 sites, now posted on facebook please go and share http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1015069641

  • 40. Danny  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    This actually caused me to tear up. Great message.
    <3 Danny

  • 41. Glen  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Posting here seems to be broken

  • 42. Phillip K  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Having problems here too.

  • 43. mao2meow  |  March 9, 2012 at 1:04 am

    You Can Play Project is so awesome. Before the beginning of this season I did an "It Gets Better" video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPZRHd6c1xI to support my friends change.org petition for the Sharks to do an IGB video like the SF Giants did. The Sharks politely declined her request http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P6ZvxU-YbM
    After the Sharks turned her down & the Wayne Simmonds homophobic slur incident against Sean Avery I was so sure the NHL would remain apathetic about homophobia, and nothing would ever change. The NHL's involvement in the You Can Play Project totally changes my mind. This is a bold statement and I hope that other professional sports follow the NHL's lead.

  • 44. Adam Bink » Blog Ar&hellip  |  April 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    [...] where society and sports culture are as a whole right now, and how it could change. I wrote a follow-up to this piece regarding the You Can Play [...]

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