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Pressure building for major-league coming out

Brian Burke says it will take courage

Brian Burke Credit: Xtra staff

It is an odd time in sports history. One could call it the pre-coming-out era. It may eventually be known as the curious time when not a single gay man in pro sports felt safe enough to discuss the simple fact that he has sex with other guys. 

Recently, the NHL and the NHL Players Association created an alliance with You Can Play to make hockey the most inclusive game in professional sports.

With the NHL on side, an up-and-coming out gay football player, and some queer-positive murmurings in other pro sports leagues, the question now is, what sport will cross the finish line first?

“It’s going to take some courage for that first guy, but, again, I think he’s going to find it a little easier road than he probably thinks he will,” says Brian Burke, an NHL executive and the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Burke and his son Patrick have been driving forces behind the You Can Play project, which was created to honour the memory of Brian’s son and Patrick’s brother, Brendan, who was killed in a car accident in 2010 — two years after coming out to his family. 

Below is Xtra reporter Andrea Houston’s interview with Brian Burke at a recent Toronto PFLAG event.