Reflecting on the Burke’s

The issue of whether homosexuality is right/wrong/sinful is something I’ve long struggled with. While I believe its easy to just declare a side, I think when one holds strongly to a belief in something, in my case the Catholic Church, that its disingenuous to break with that belief without careful thought and prayer. I am still undecided. However there is one thing that I have absolutely no doubts about, and that is that God calls us to love our neighbor, and he puts no caveat on that love.

It is cliche and often made fun of to say “I have lots of gay friends.” (Or substitute any group in that phrase.) But that is because it is most often used as a form of self defense. I say it not in defense, I have no need to defend my views, but as a point about how those friends, mentors, and confidants have shaped my views. And that fact is I love every one of my friends, not in spite of or because of their sexuality, but, because of who they are of which that happens to be a part.

I once asked the young lady I was engaged to what she would do if our daughter became pregnant as a teen. Her response was- “that wouldn’t happen.” To say I was shocked was an understatement. I expected her to talk about how she would love and support her. Its a shame I never got around to asking her what would happen if we had a child who came out to us.

If you haven’t heard about the Brian and Brendan Burke story you need to Google it. Brian Burke is the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was also GM of the US Olympic Hockey team as well as winning a Stanley Cup as GM of the Anaheim Ducks. He is known for building rough and tough teams. He is loud and brutally honest. So you can imagine how worried his son Brendan, who himself worked for the hockey program at Miami-Ohio, was when he decided to tell his father he was gay. But he did. And whatever Burke’s personal feelings were, whatever internal struggle he may have had, will never be known. But what is known is that he loved and supported his son unconditionally. Last year he went to the Toronto Pride Parade with his son. Afterward he told him, next year we will march in the parade. Sadly, Brendan Burke was killed in a car accident. But Brian Burke chose to keep that promise and indeed did march in the Toronto Pride Parade this year.

I can only hope someday that if I am in the same spot, I can be half as courageous as Brian Burke has.

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