Growing up is a challenge for many of us; we all face adversities that challenge us to grow and face our fears. The labels thrust on us by society -- describing our race, sexuality, gender or religion -- is detrimental to our culture because this only divides us further. Meet Patrick Burke – a straight ally, son of the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now creator of an innovative program to address homophobia in athletics, You Can Play.
The You Can Play Project is working towards ending homophobia in hockey and in sports all around the world. Patrick’s brother, Brendan, came out publicly a year before he sadly died in a car accident in 2010, and is the inspiration behind the foundation.
YCP’s motto: "If you can play, You Can Play." The factor of one’s sexuality should not be a determining factor when it comes to sports, rather it should be one’s ability to play.
It baffles me that in 2012 in the United States we are still discussing a person’s sexuality as if it has some bearing on his or her character. As a vulnerable teen who struggled with this issue growing up, I’m thrilled to see progress. More and more, we are seeing people standing up and using their voices to get the message out that being gay is A-Ok! Having sports stars speak out about this critical issue is empowering because role models are a vital factor in creating change, thus those who speak out will help many individuals across the world.
Last month during the NHL game between the Bruins and the Rangers, YCP premiered their first PSA which includes 8 NHL stars! Check out the PSA below and let us know who some of your favorite "out" athletes are in the comments below!
+ WATCH: You Can Play's latest PSA.