Off to find the hero of the day

Sackville Tribune - - OPINION - Steve Bartlett The Deep End

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.

Com­ments and in­for­ma­tion: lgbt­con­nec­tion­sgv@gmail.com.

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