The engagement of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tells us a lot about the fight for equality in sports. Several years ago, Pitt said he and Jolie would not marry until same-sex marriage was legal. While a smattering of states have legalized it, the vast majority of Americans can't marry in their state...and the Federal government refuses to recognize gay marriage.
Last week Brangelina announced they would get married...before I can legally marry Dan. It shows the weakness of the support we have from some of our "straight allies." So many of them are all for platitudes and cheerleading...as long as it doesn't interfere with their own lives. To be sure, Pitt has been a vocal supporter of gay marriage. He even donated $100k to fight Prop. 8 in 2008. But when it came to choosing between what he wanted and what he believed in, when it came time to face a deep sacrifice...his beliefs lost out.
Which brings me to sports. To end homophobia in sports, we need straight allies. We need people like Brad Pitt to push for our equality. But we also don't need people like Pitt, who will abandon ship when it suits him. People like Charles Barkley, Scott Fujita and Shaquille O'Neal are great, but they offer platitudes and little more. They'll do a couple interviews and maybe a PSA, but they're just like Pitt: When it comes time to sacrifice something, they're nowhere to be found.
It's what makes people like Patrick Burke and Hudson Taylor so incredibly special. Burke is driven by something so much deeper than Pitt and Barkley and Fujita: The memory of his late brother. Taylor is driven by something deep and special and rare inside him that simply cannot and will not accept inequality. These two men haven't sat back and issued statements, they've sacrificed their time and capital to build programs reaching thousands of people.
Some people might say, "Oh, well Hudson Taylor got married." But he never said he wouldn't. That hasn't been part of his commitment to our community. He and Burke have done exactly what they said they were going to do; In fact, they've done more. While people know their names, the vast majority don't know much of the behind-the-scenes work these two men have done.
When the going gets tough, these two men aren't going anywhere. When presented with opportunity that will take them away from their work for our community, they will find a way to make both work. They'll never turn their backs on us until the work is done.
I'm thankful to have them on our side.