06 February 2011

Sean Avery Speaks (Up) For Us

It's been said that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Well, let me tell you, I've had some pretty strange bedfellows.  And I've never been (and don't intend to be) in politics.  

But I digress.  I can think of something else that makes for some really strange, or at least unexpected, alliances:  the issue of LGBT rights.  Barry Goldwater, that bastion of conservatism, supported them.  A couple of years ago, Dick Cheyney came out in favor of allowing gay marriage.  

Now a hockey player who once described his ex-girlfriend as "sloppy seconds" says he's willing to support any player who's gay and is worried about the consequences of "coming out." 

In a news conference, Sean Avery, whose behavior has caused a couple of teams to trade him in spite of his talents as a player, said, “If there’s a kid in Canada or wherever, who is playing and really loves the game and wants to keep playing but he’s worried about coming out, I’d tell him to pick up the phone and call (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr and tell him to book me a (plane) ticket.”

Now, if he's sincere--and somehow I suspect he is, believe it or not--I think that it's an example of what will really propel acceptance and rights for LGBT people.  When a macho-guy hockey player like Avery is willing to stand beside a gay player, that just might influence others to do the same.  We need him for the same reasons why we need the support of conservatives and of what is sometimes called "Middle America."  When some churchgoing parent accepts his or her--or someone else's--gay kid, that example resonates more powerfully for most people than it does when it comes from some former ACT-UP member.  

Of course, I don't mean to say that we don't need the support of our more traditional allies.  But when the Sean Averys and Dick Cheyneys of the world put in a word for us, they're not preaching to the choir.