Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't read this if you don't want me to hit you up for a favor. Thanks.

At the risk of annoying everyone who's already read this (and thank you very much, by the way), I'm devoting this space today to an article I wrote for Raw, the site where I have a side gig writing about the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.

You Can Play: An interview with Patrick Burke

I've been beating this drum pretty hard this week and I know that can get tiresome, so feel free to stop reading now if you already have (again, thanks) or if you just don't care (that's disappointing, but whatever; no judgments). Below you will find a little insight as to why I'm promoting this so heavily.
Sometimes, the answers to problems are simple. Especially when the problem itself isn't all that complex.

The "You Can Play" project's philosophy is "If you can play, you can play". In other words, forget all the coincident BS. We're trying to win games here and if you're black, white, straight, gay, fat, skinny, male, female, rich or poor and you can play, get your ass out there and do it. If you can play, you can play.

Well, duh.

I don't say this to give you the impression that I thought of that on my own before this came about, like I'm the most enlightened person in the world, sitting around waiting for everybody else to catch up. Because I'm sure I'm not.

Please allow me to backtrack a little...

The first gay person (that I know of) that I met was when I was in a high school and working as a busboy at a hotel restaurant. One of the waiters was a guy named Joe and his mom was a hostess. Joe was flamboyantly, demonstratively, openly gay and he was also a tremendous asshole. Difficult servers make a busboy's life difficult. A flat-out Joe...can make it downright miserable. He was impatient, bossy, condescending and mean. Always. I'm not sure I can overstate this but I'm going to try. He was the kind of guy who would shit on people and then wipe his ass with other people. When I first met him, it was a huge deal to me that he was gay and would always be a factor in my description of him to other people. Joe The Gay Waiter being a jerk, Joe The Gay Waiter pissing me off, Joe The Gay Waiter making me hate life every time I had to work with him. Joe The Gay Waiter Who Is An Asshole. At some point, fairly early on in my interactions with him, his asshole-ishness so overwhelmed every other aspect of every fiber of his being (like he was literally made of asshole and brought to life with lightning bolts, like Dr. Assholestein's I being clear here?) that it changed to Joe The Asshole. The word "gay" was no longer a relevant descriptor. Nor was the word "waiter", for that matter. It's kind of the same thing with people who casually misuse the word "retard"; People who do that mean "stupid", so why not just use that word? Because "retard" hurts more. It occurred to me that while Joe was an asshole and deserved every bit of loathing I could muster and how much I wanted him to hurt (Joe, if you're out there and somehow find yourself reading this all these years after the fact, I'm glad you didn't drive your car off of a bridge like I hoped for back then, but only because I want you to know that I still think you're an asshole...but please tell your mom hi; she was always really nice), other gay people who I had never met didn't, and to use the word "gay" as a slur not only wasn't right, it wasn't even accurate. So I stopped.


Back to now...

If you haven't already read the article that the link above takes you to (and again, if you have, thanks!), it's an interview I got to do with Patrick Burke of the You Can Play project this past weekend.

I really like writing stories about the Lightning's impact on the community outside of the rink. It's why I always devote coverage to the Community Heroes program in the game notes of the home game re-caps, which is my primary responsibility for the site. So when Cassie, one of the associate editors, mentioned this opportunity was available, I jumped on it. Aggressively. More aggressively than I normally would have. In fact if one of the other writers had said they wanted it, I would have argued. I might have even begged, pleaded, kicked and screamed until I got my way. And here's the reason why...

Recently, someone came out to me. Now, I have known lots of gay people over the years, friends and acquaintances, but this was a new experience for me. Obviously this person trusted me a great deal and it was a pretty heavy moment (I sort of knew what was going on, but until someone comes out and tells you, you don't know know). I can't say much more about it of respect for this person's privacy but for this particular interview opportunity to come along exactly when it did, well, I thought it was an opportunity to do something good. And being as I am generally a bad person; very, very lazy, incredibly shallow and self-centered, not terribly bright and completely irresponsible (as of this minute, I have absolutely no idea how much money is in my checking account), leaving any real care and keeping of another human being to me is probably not a good idea. Usually, managing to feed and dress myself four days out of five constitutes a pretty successful week. 
What I'm saying is that I felt a personal connection to the subject matter of this particular article. It's my hope that writing about it will give help and hope to people who need it. I appreciate both the fact that it came along when it did, that Raw Charge gives me a forum to spread the message and that my colleagues let me have it. I work with some pretty great people.

Anyway, thanks for reading this, thanks for checking the interview out and let's all do each other a favor and make more of an effort to look for simple answers to the simple problems.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

AWESOME!!! You Rock! And also you have made me think before I speak...being raised in the south that is not a trait you are taught!