Vulgar Opinions: It Gets Better (SFW With Disclaimer)
This is going to tackle a topic, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered issues, that a lot of people may not be comfortable with. If that is the case, I would urge you to move on.
The first African-American to play Major League Baseball was Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884, though Jackie Robinson in 1947 gets more publicity. The 1920s saw the first African-American football players for the Akron Pros and the Rock Island Independents. Basketball desegregated in the 1950s with several players, among them Earl Lloyd of the Washington Capitols, Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics, and Nat Clifton of the New York Knicks. Willie O’Ree became the first African-American to play in the NHL in 1958, last to the party.
And here we are again. American pro sports is not only lacking a prominent LGBT athlete, it’s lacking LGBT support altogether. The It Gets Better Campaign is aimed at showing LGBT individuals what they can achieve and what their life can grow to become despite the bigoted and intolerant individuals and organizations that might be bullying them and holding them back. There are nine major professional sports teams in America that have contributed to the It Gets Better Campaign, eight in Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays), and one in the NFL (Seattle Seahawks (joined with the Mariners)). The NHL is at the risk of being last to the party again. In fact it seems the NHL has had more publicity for its intolerance than its tolerance.
We have Sean Avery lending his face (and some irony – “I treat everyone the way I want to be treated”) to a video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign on the side for good and Uptown Sports’s criticism of him, and Wayne Simmonds’s (VIDEO INVOLVES A (MOUTHED, NO AUDIO) GAY SLUR.) runaway mouth on the other side. It is, in short, not a pretty picture.
Enter: The Buffalo Sabres.
The new ownership seems committed to not only fostering a positive hockey atmosphere in Buffalo, but in creating something unique and special that no other team and no other city can lay claim to. What better than this? What better than becoming the first NHL team to lend its support to LGBT youth nationwide? What better than extending a branch of friendship to its Canadian fanbase and Canadian LGBT hockey fans everywhere? What better than hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs and general manager Brian Burke for an LGBT Night in the First Niagara Center complete with a moment of silence for Burke’s late son, a team-released It Gets Better Video, and complimentary rainbow rally towels for every fan? What better way to remember Buffalo teen Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14 year old gay student who committed suicide last year? What better way to take the pole position in American Airlines’s quest to name the Best Up and Coming Gay City for 2011?
For a city and a team that doesn’t see much in the way of positive comments, this would be a huge step towards showing people everywhere that it does get better, especially in Buffalo.