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‘Brian Burke saved my life’: Gay hockey fan

- August 29th, 2013

Nine times out of 10, the internet is — for a lack of a better word — stupid.

It is a wasteland for anonymous folks who thrive on negativity.

But there is the odd exception, like a 26-year-old hockey fan’s choice to publicly reveal he is gay.

By all accounts, this is a feel-good story no internet troll can derail.

Although his friends and family have known for some time now, Matt Horner, a research assistant at McMaster University, came out Tuesday to the general public in a post on his hockey blog called Five Minutes For Fighting.

Horner

Matt Horner.

There’s a black-and-white reason he used a hockey blog as the vehicle to push his message through.

Brian Burke, the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and mayor of truculence-ville, was one of his core inspirations.

In fact, the first five words Horner typed in the 1,500-word post are “Brian Burke saved my life.” Horner credits Burke with, among other things, giving him the “courage to live.”

Struggling for years with the common insecurities associated with telling the world he was gay, Horner gained confidence in himself after learning Burke, a respected alpha male in an alpha male-dominated industry, was accepting of his own son’s homosexuality.

In a period shortly before Burke first chimed in on the issue of homosexuality, Horner “was getting to a very dark place and didn’t know how much more I could take. I was starting to get a little desperate.”

Burke, and the You Can Play program, lifted him from the ground. He hasn’t looked back since.

–> Horner’s inspirational post in its entirety <–

Burke

Brian Burke walks in the 2011 Gay Pride Parade in Toronto.
(Reuters)

In a period shortly before Burke first chimed in on the issue of homosexuality, Horner “was getting to a very dark place and didn’t know how much more I could take. I was starting to get a little desperate.”

Burke, and the You Can Play program, lifted him from the ground. He hasn’t looked back since.

–> Horner’s inspirational post in its entirety <–

Burke took to Twitter Wednesday night to acknowledge Horner’s coming-out by tweeting an endorsement (below) before dropping a link to the admission post.

I’ve never met Matt Horner in-person. However, I’ve known him digitally for more than two years.

He used to write for a sports feature website. I was an editor there and his main point of contact.

We still chat through Twitter here and there.

Matt is a good dude — down-to-earth, polite, hard working, crafty with the written word.

Now I know he is gay. And I’m perfectly OK with that.

All thanks to the internet…

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4 comments

  1. dave | August 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

    any life saved is awesome

  2. Cindy | September 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    In this day & age a person should not “have to come out” or “struggle” with being straight or gay. It should be a non-issue. Everyone has the right to love and be in love. Who has the right to decide that some-else’s choice is wrong. Battles need to picked, one persons happiness is not a battle that other people to be involved in. Who ever you are, I wish you much love, health and happiness for many years to come. :-)

  3. Mr. Blair M. Phillips | September 3, 2013 at 5:46 am

    I have worked with gays & lesbians for over 30 years.(GM of Canada). I have sat with gay & lesbians in self help group meetings for 30 years as well. They are kind, caring, responisble and humourous people. Well done Mr. Burke. Change takes time. Sharing our expereince, strength and hope plays a big part in opening our minds and hearts to change.

  4. Ken Howe | September 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I am so proud of our sport and the leadership of Brian Burke. If you haven’t gone to the website “If you can Play” you need to and see the number of players and coaches who speak-up. I can’t imagine this in any other sport. Hockey fans seem to believe that hockey players have more character than other sports – and at some level I believe it is true. The bottom line is – if you personally know someone who is gay you quickly learn they are just like you except for their sexual orientation. “If you can play you can play”.

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