Off to find the hero of the day
Never meet your hero.
I follow that advice by default for the most part. My sport or music heroes don’t usually turn up in these parts, though one time I met did Snow, the Canadian reggae singer behind the 1992 hit “Informer.”
Speaking of that Snow song, before continuing, could you do me a HUGE solid?
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stand up and in your best Canadian reggae rap voice, sing “A licky boom boom down.”
Do it! Please! It’ll open doors for you. Thanks.
Back to meeting heroes. On Friday afternoon – coincidentally at around Happy Hour – I head downtown to meet my all-time hockey hero.
His name is Wendel Clark. To you, he’s maybe just a guy who played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
To me, Wendel is hockey. He worked hard, playing with three Ts – talent, tenacity and toughness. (He also had another notable T, his goatee.)
Wendel could score. He could hit. And he could fight.
As someone who played with just one T – terrible – Wendel was absolutely amazing.
I’ve been a fanatic since his 34goal, 227-penalty minute rookie season in 1985-86.
I watched as many of his games on TV possible until he retired in 2000.
I’ve viewed a Youtube compilation of his highlights 7,436,001 times, I think of him every time I put on skates, and his book, “Bleeding Blue: Giving My All for the Game” is on all my mobile devices.
And here I am on a rare sunny Friday afternoon about to meet him.
I’m geeking out at the prospect, but feeling plenty of nerves, too.
What if he is a rude jerk? What if he isn’t as cool as thought?
What if he has one of those eerie, wet noodle-like handshakes?
What if this experience goes worse than the first 100 days of the Trump presidency?
I could very well be on my way to losing a longtime hero.
The hotel bar is empty, save for some guys sitting around a table in the corner.
I’m escorted there and realize the group includes Wendel as well as Nhlers Dale Hawerchuck, Shayne Corson, P.J. Stock, Marty Turco and Brad May.
They’re in town for a Heart and Stroke Foundation fundraising tournament.
I’ve interviewed all sorts of “names” – prime ministers, members of the Royal Family, TV and music stars, etc. – but I’m tragically shy and absolutely star struck right now.
Corson played with Team Canada at a Canada Cup and the Olympics.
May hoisted the Stanley Cup 10 years ago with Anaheim.
Turco started in goal at the 2003-04 all-star game.
Hawerchuck is a freakin’ hall of famer, with 1,409 career points.
And P.J. Stock ... has nice hair when he’s on TV.
I quietly join the group, talk a little about the area, and then chat with Wendel.
We sit away from the pucksters and have a beer.
I speak with him as a fan, not a journalist.
I pummel him – with questions, too many questions.
Among other things, we talk about the game, his work as a Leafs ambassador, his wrist shot, how he doesn’t play much hockey anymore.
He enjoys country music, thinks Doug Gilmour (circa 1992-93) was the best he played with and has big dreams for his restaurant chain, Wendel Clark’s Classic Bar and Grill.
I’m blathering, in complete awe, and can’t help myself.
Wendel graciously answers each question, even though deep inside he’s likely telling himself this can’t end soon enough.
I thank him for being so accommodating and leave chuffed about the experience.
Never meet your hero – unless it’s Wendel Clark.
We, in Canada and some other Western nations, are relatively assured of being protected by laws that were established following years of challenges and demanding equality.
For our transgender community, the wait is not over until the Senate reviews the protection bill and signs it into law for equal protection. The fights, the arguing, the constant abuse and being ignored by lawmakers in the past have been tremendously complicated by ignorance and lack of fairness. Attitudes were extremely difficult to change and even today we are not quite there yet.
Religious domination has traditionally shown to be nonconforming in acceptance of LGBTQ citizens.
Slowly, the tides are changing in certain denominations, but there is little light at the end of the tunnel, very dim at best.
Rights such as equal marriage, equal pensions and benefits and equal opportunity are ours to keep. We love the freedom of choosing the one we love, regardless of sexual orientation, more acceptance in a western society and more understanding as time progresses. Ideas on what is correct, according to others, must be ignored and we must not give in to those who pronounce us as abnormal.
Various issues have not been rectified and will take years, decades and perhaps centuries to solve. This may sound defeatist, but all indications are that we must remain realistic, vigilant and remove the rosecoloured glasses. In some cases within our own country, law enforcement folks are at odds with equal rights and equal treatment. This is the case with the various police departments in our nation.
As has been mentioned in previous columns, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver departments either have been banned from Pride parades, or have voluntarily withdrawn their participation. Cape Breton Pride has now decided that police are welcome to participate.
In a surprise move, the Gay Officers Action League of the New York Police Department has invited police from our cities to join them in the New York City Pride March.
We are in the midst of Pride celebrations everywhere and we must come together and celebrate our place in society. Further division is not in the best interest and discussions must take the place of separation. The end result must be co-operation and healing will follow.
On an international level, in many countries, we do see the divisions as police and other law authorities have the power to arrest, interrogate, torture and in many cases even kill gays at their choosing. This is allowed and conducted under the umbrella of the law. The death penalty still exists in seven nations. In Russia, Uganda and Saudi Arabia, among others, LGBTQ citizens have no recourse but to stay in hiding. Those who are open about their sexual orientation will experience unbearable consequences.
Donald Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia and lavishly praised the King for being such a wonderful host and the signed billions of dollars in business dealings. No mention of human rights and it has been well advertised that Trump has no respect for most minorities, including LGBTQ rights.
So, on an international level, the challenges continue and in many cases human rights do not exist and indeed we see an increase in brutality on a worldwide scale.
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