I might not always see eye-to-eye with Brian Burke when it comes to team-building, but it’s clear that he’s a man of principles. He made a promise to his son Brendan that he’d march in the Toronto Pride Parade this year, although Burke assumed that his son would still be alive to join him. Unfortunately, Brendan died in a car crash on February, but that didn’t keep his father from attending the parade.
On Sunday Brian Burke and his second wife Jennifer and his sister Meghan and her husband Phil, along with some friends, all marched with PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an organization that provides support for parents and their gay children. Burke wore a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with ‘Brendan’ written on the back and the number 88, the year Brendan was born. He will do it again next year, too.
As the parade rolls down the street there is always cheering, but it’s often hooting and hollering, a party vibe. When PFLAG comes into view, though, the vibe changes. The PFLAG marchers holds signs that say things like, “Beyond tolerance – we celebrate our children,” and “Our children are a part of our families and always will be.”
And the crowd always reacts the same way. There is still hollering, but it’s mixed with a rich applause, with the sound of appreciation.
When asked about that reaction, Burke says, “Probably because it’s a support group. There are people who have embraced their children. I don’t think there’s anything heroic about it, but I think people appreciate that not every parent reacts positively when their child tells them that they’re gay. I think that’s probably why.”
It might sound a little trite, but stories like these do put tense contract negotiations and salary cap analysis into perspective. Best wishes to the Burke family as they try to move on from that February accident.