You Can Play Project


One of my favorite campaigns is the "It Gets Better" series of videos on YouTube. It was first started as a video to reach out to gay and lesbian youth to show that no matter what you're going through right now, it gets better as you get older. Too often are people made to feel like outsiders when what they do or who they are are perceived to be against the norm.

No place is this more prevalent than in athletics. In the major American sports, there is not one professional athlete that has come out while still playing. It's highly unlikely that of the thousands of men that play in the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB, they are all straight. The stigma attached to being gay and being a professional athlete is one that forces men around the major leagues to suppress who they are in order to fit in to the 'normal' mold to play the sport they love.

Brendan Burke, son of former Ducks GM Brian Burke, came out his friends and family while a member of the Miami University hockey team. When he did, nothing changed. His friends were still his friends and his coaches were still his coaches. Brendan was still a hockey player. Brendan had the courage to do what others can't. Teamed with his very outspoken father, Brendan just began to work to erase the stigma of sexuality in the locker room when he was tragically killed in a car accident.

With Brendan's death, the message carried on. The Burke family continues to be activists for the LGBT community. Brendan's brother Patrick, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, took it a step further and created the 'You Can Play' project that creates an alliance between gay and straight athletes (and fans of those who play) to make the locker room and arenas a safe place, free from homophobia. Over the All-Star Break, the You Can Play team gathered together the biggest names in the NHL (including our Corey Perry) to create the video above. By these athletes pledging their support, it hopes to be a step in the direction of eventually having a professional athlete come out while still playing his or her sport.

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