PRIDE PARADE 2014: FERENCE STEPS UP

Robin Brownlee
June 07 2014 11:21AM

AndrewFerence

It goes without saying, or most certainly should, that people should not be judged based on the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their religion or their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, we aren't there yet.

That's what makes Andrew Ference's decision to March in Edmonton's Pride Parade in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender community (LGBT) today so commendable.

In a world that has yet to fully come to grips with accepting people for who they are, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers is stepping forward as a man who performs in a fraternity that struggles as much or more as any segment of our society with male sexuality.

When a player, Ference, who makes his living playing a tough game against tough men in the NHL chooses to participate in a parade celebrating diversity, it's still newsworthy. One need only type "Edmonton Pride Parade 2014" into Google's search engine to know that – six of the first 10 results I got this morning were in reference to Ference taking part.

It is news. I look forward to the day when it's not.

MAKING A STATEMENT

ference

Even today, acceptance of sexual orientation is far from universal, be it here in Edmonton or anywhere else. Are we making progress? Absolutely, as a 55-year-old man who is old enough to remember a very different era when attitudes toward race, religion and sexual orientation – mine included – were different, I can say that with confidence.

It's also obvious, given the mistreatment of others that still makes headlines on a daily basis somewhere, old attitudes remain today in varying degrees. In my neighborhood. In your neighborhood. Certainly in the culture of the NHL. It is news, then, when Ference takes part, becoming the first member of the Oilers to do so.

Jen Scrivens, wife of Oiler goaltender Ben Scrivens, will march today. Former Oiler Georges Laraque has marched in Montreal. Manny Malhotra and Jason Garrison have marched in Vancouver. In 2011, Sean Avery came out in favor of equal marriage rights in New York. Brian Burke has marched. Burke's son Patrick started the You Can Play initiative in 2012 after brother Brendan died in an automobile accident in 2010.

"Making sure that (LGBT) youth know they have allies at the pro level, or whether it’s a teammate who might be thinking about coming out, or whatever it is, we want to make sure that it’s an accepting environment for everyone," Ference told the Edmonton Journal. "I know most of my teammates and guys around the league line up with the same kind of belief."

LEADING THE WAY

lead-by-example

Yes, most but not all. In that, the NHL is no different than the rest of society. My neighborhood. Your neighborhood. For all of the progress made since I was a kid growing up in the 1960s and 70s, for how we more often embrace our brothers and sisters for what they are rather than what we think they should be, we still have a long way to go.

Players like Andrew Ference will help get us there. That's what leaders do.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 baggedmilk
June 07 2014, 11:22AM
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Well done, Captain Ference.

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#2 Privateeye
June 07 2014, 11:35AM
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And that, ladies and gentleman, is why he is our captain. Very proud that he is a crucial member of this club. Atta be Ference!

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#3 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
June 07 2014, 04:30PM
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Gay. Straight. I don't care.

You're nice to me, I'm nice back.

No room for Haters.

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#5 Bucknuck
June 07 2014, 11:44AM
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Great Article, and from what I can tell, the captain is a pretty great man.

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#7 Racki
June 07 2014, 07:06PM
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JSR wrote:

These groups are not running around saying anything about being straight, just promoting there events and clubs...

I think the point of these parades is completely lost on you, and that's fine. They exist to make people who are LGBT comfortable in their own skin. We all know it is hard for some of them to come out and express their sexuality, because every once in a while someone comes out, and you wonder "what took so long?". Some hide their relationships in secret because of worry about what their family/friends/public will say. This is perpetuated by some strong religious groups quite often, but not just by them. There's definitely people who act violently towards them, whether it's mental or physical violence.

Anyways, the parade is obviously meant as a way for everyone to show support for that community of people and Ference's actions are meant to help educate everyone else. You don't have to support or even understand it. I think acceptance is gaining a lot of steam lately, which is great. Maybe one day, the parade will be unnecessary and stop happening. I don't think the world is there yet. I'm happy that Canada is a country that is generally quite open to LGBT, whereas there are definitely still major parts of the US that are not.

The Ference story is big news (even though we all would like it to no longer be "news") because it's not often that you see a public statement like that (i.e. from a celebrity) that is straight. It encourages others to take part and show that they don't care what a person's sexual beliefs are.

Anyways, as a white, 30s man, who typically is as non-minority as it gets, I don't really ever face any sort of discrimination like these people would, so I don't quite feel the need for a parade of my own. I'm guessing that all the people raising a stink over this have never faced any form of discrimination either. I don't really see what the harm is in the parade, but I do see the good in it.

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#8 JSR
June 07 2014, 06:20PM
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I have no problems with other people's beliefs, orientations, etc. My only issue is the way people choose to promote their beliefs and orientations. I don't think a parade is necessary, straight people don't resort to this...

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#9 Sevenseven
June 07 2014, 01:39PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm not convinced Sam was dropped like a hot potato, as you suggest.

Ranked by some to go as high as the fourth round, he went in the seventh. Lots of players after the obvious blue-chippers are selected drop or rise in later rounds.

Sam is on the small side for a defensive end and not quick enough to be a linebacker. He's a longshot regardless of sexual orientation.

I saw a nice picture of Sam celebrating with his boyfriend. It made history because it was the first time anyone celebrated getting drafted by the rams.

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#10 Dan 1919
June 07 2014, 06:52PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

No straight parades? Now things are making sense!

I had my suspicions about all those cowboys in the Calgary Stampede Parade ..... Plus those Shriners. The purple hats should have been a dead give away.

Thanks for being the voice of reason.

Calgary Stampede and Shriners are in no way a straight parade, people of all races and sexual preferences are more than welcome there... possibly the most ridiculous comparison made in these comments.

Just because someone is not 100% on board and does not blindly support anything a minority says does not mean they are any less entitled to their opinions than you are with your support; so long as there is not actual disrespect/hatred to the minority group.

Personally when my friend came out of the closet, I wasn’t proud of him at all, just as I’m not proud of my straight friends for being straight, I couldn't care less.

I also think a Gay Pride Parade is ridiculous, so I won’t attend, just as I’d think a Straight Pride Parade would be ridiculous (bunch of guys walking down the street high giving because they’re straight, making out with hot chicks and drinking beer?)

Does the Gay Pride Parade make me mad? Not even a little bit. This is Canada, if they wan’t a parade, all the power to them. It just doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it and think it’s an awesome idea.

Have respect for everyone’s opinions so long as they’re not racist/prejudice.

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#12 Chris
June 07 2014, 01:55PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...Robin...if one is touted to go in the 4th round of the NFL draft and you go in the 7th, actually 249th out of 256 as a compensatory pick let's NOT call it being dropped like a hot potato...let's forget I ever brought it up...and that question I asked? you don't need to answer that either...I'll just stay here on the bandwagon and say how great it is to have a captain like Ference ...zzz

Maybe Sam dropped because he's not that good as opposed to what his sexual orientation is? How is Robin supposed to know when an NHLer will come out? Stop acting like a baby, he answered your question.

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#13 vetinari
June 07 2014, 12:41PM
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Great statement by Ference and by the Oilers. Canada: the place where we don't care who you are in love with so long as you both watch hockey. ;)

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#14 Robin Brownlee
June 07 2014, 12:20PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

... actually I wasn't asking for what you thought was needed anywhere...my question was asked of Robin Brownlee so...

I'm not convinced Sam was dropped like a hot potato, as you suggest.

Ranked by some to go as high as the fourth round, he went in the seventh. Lots of players after the obvious blue-chippers are selected drop or rise in later rounds.

Sam is on the small side for a defensive end and not quick enough to be a linebacker. He's a longshot regardless of sexual orientation.

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#15 The Soup Fascist
June 07 2014, 06:31PM
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JSR wrote:

I have no problems with other people's beliefs, orientations, etc. My only issue is the way people choose to promote their beliefs and orientations. I don't think a parade is necessary, straight people don't resort to this...

No straight parades? Now things are making sense!

I had my suspicions about all those cowboys in the Calgary Stampede Parade ..... Plus those Shriners. The purple hats should have been a dead give away.

Thanks for being the voice of reason.

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#16 baggedmilk
June 07 2014, 04:42PM
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Go figure, an article about the acceptance of others turns into a gong show from a few small minded dickheads.

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#17 book¡e
June 08 2014, 10:36AM
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Does anyone else see the idiocy in people who spend time discussing hockey chastising people who spend time pushing for GLBT rights for wasting their time not solving world hunger?

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#18 Loweblows
June 08 2014, 10:04AM
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The only parade Ference will see in edmonton

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#20 baggedmilk
June 07 2014, 07:13PM
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@Racki

This guy gets it. Congrats, sir!

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#21 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
June 07 2014, 04:44PM
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Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

Gay. Straight. I don't care.

You're nice to me, I'm nice back.

No room for Haters.

So simple... Best haiku ever

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#22 Hockey Viking
June 07 2014, 06:34PM
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Thanks Robin for your well written article on a subject that always seems to bring a few n'ere do wells out the woodwork. Ference is showing leadership for marching in the Pride Parade to give hope that we all can move past the bias and bigotry. You are also showing leadership in choosing to write about these matters. Bravo to you both!

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#23 Kypreos
June 07 2014, 10:03PM
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Most people are talking hockey and Oilers Nation is talking gay pride. Maybe Ference should focus on his hockey....

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#24 Bobby
June 07 2014, 02:22PM
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I would like to have a white parade is everyone okay with that?

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#25 Racki
June 07 2014, 02:40PM
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Bobby wrote:

I would like to have a white parade is everyone okay with that?

Are you OK with being told you who you can't be with, what religion you can't belong to, receive death threats for being who you are etc? If so, sure, go nuts. Although I'm pretty sure no one will make a big deal about your "normal" parade anyways.

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#27 Racki
June 07 2014, 12:54PM
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I think this is great and it is motivation for me to show my support for the LGBT community. I couldn't go do that this year, but I'd like my wife and I to go next year for this parade. I too look forward to the day when this is not news but I'm proud of Ference and any others that march in cause that doesn't directly involve them.

At my sister-in-law's wedding (to a woman) I learned about how extremely difficult it was for them to come out and how alive they were when they found such support in their families and friends once they did. So for me, this is my way of helping someone else come out of the closet and live the life they are meant to while showing my pride for my sister-in-law and the love they share for each other (they are really a fantastic couple and one to admire).

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#28 Reg Dunlop
June 07 2014, 09:10PM
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It seems like this topic is one I should stay away from but... as long as there are no clowns in the parade I am ok with it. Clowns scare me.

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#29 ubermiguel
June 07 2014, 12:53PM
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Ference is a great person and Edmonton is a better place for having him here. If the quality of his play matched the quality of his community involvement he'd be a Norris winner every year.

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#30 Privateeye
June 07 2014, 02:30PM
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John wrote:

Big deal . Who cares

Putin, is that you?

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#32 oilers2k10
June 07 2014, 07:44PM
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If a man wants to cuddle with another man instead of a pretty woman with smooth shapely hips and beautiful breasts then all the power to him...but why does it have to be front page news or have a billion blogs written about it everytime? Whatever..be happy.

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#33 Robin Brownlee
June 07 2014, 02:44PM
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Bobby wrote:

I would like to have a white parade is everyone okay with that?

Tell us more.

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#34 JSR
June 07 2014, 08:28PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

So what? Your point is what, exactly? Andrew Ference isn't a group, he's a person. Jen Scrivens isn't a group, she's a person. Don Iveson isn't a group, he's a person. "These groups" sounds a lot like "these people." We know how that conversation goes.

My point is...I don't run around saying, "look at me, I'm straight, I'm straight." Why can't people just take people for who they are, gay or straight? I don't think a parade is needed, in either case, straight or gay.

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#35 The Soup Fascist
June 07 2014, 07:01PM
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JSR wrote:

These groups are not running around saying anything about being straight, just promoting there events and clubs...

My point is that for the most part our society is geared towards those of us who are straight and have a traditional view of what "family" is.

If the LGBT community wants to celebrate their successes and bring attention to their challenges once a year, who are we to judge? If you have issues or concerns ..... Don't go. Certainly that is your right.

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#36 Kypreos
June 07 2014, 10:24PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Ference took a day in the middle of his off-season to "focus" on participating in the Pride Parade.

He takes a day here to "focus" on promoting fitness and a day there to "focus" on visiting sick children in the hospital or helping out with various charitable causes, as do several members of the Oilers.

His "focus" is just fine. Yours?

They all should give back to the community after all the community pays their way...

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#37 Dan 1919
June 07 2014, 07:14PM
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My favourite parades are the “traditional” ones where everyone goes (straights, gays, blacks, whites...) and the fire trucks hand out candy to the kids and the entire thing is just for the single idea of building community and getting everyone outside on a nice summer day.

There seems to be politics everywhere nowadays...

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#38 Ca$h-Money!
June 07 2014, 08:32PM
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oilers2k10 wrote:

If a man wants to cuddle with another man instead of a pretty woman with smooth shapely hips and beautiful breasts then all the power to him...but why does it have to be front page news or have a billion blogs written about it everytime? Whatever..be happy.

Read Racki's reply. Also, because people still get curb stomped for being gay, but no one does for being straight. Perhaps most importantly, because the suicide rate for gay teenagers is substantially higher than it is for straight teenagers.

The parade helps a community of people take pride in something that so many people try to make them feel shame for. That's why the name emphasizes the word pride. If people were routinely shamed for being straight there would be a straight pride parade. We are fortunate not to need one.

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#39 The Soup Fascist
June 08 2014, 02:51AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

It seems like this topic is one I should stay away from but... as long as there are no clowns in the parade I am ok with it. Clowns scare me.

Then stay away from the Oilers' office on Kingsway at all costs, Reg. You will be scared shirtless.

The place is crawling with them.

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#40 Racki
June 08 2014, 11:50AM
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Sarcasm on...

I'm so tired of walking down the street and having people come up to me and yell in my face "I'm gay!!", or seeing gay couples having sex on top of cars while I'm out driving. Not to mention that time I went to the book store, and all I saw were gay novels.

Sarcasm off..

There is no "shoving down our throats" here. People talking about something or celebrating something to gain awareness and acceptance is not shoving it down my throat. I don't believe that if someone who's battling alcoholism and goes to AA to help deal with it with others is shoving it down my throat. I don't believe that seeing Christmas decorations at the mall, when I'm not religious, is shoving Christmas down my throat. I don't believe that people having their pride parade is shoving it down my throat.

A little pro-tip for those who are completely overwhelmed by this... there's a red X up in the top right corner you can click if there's too much political agenda being rammed down your throat.

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#41 Quicksilver ballet
June 07 2014, 09:43PM
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We shouldn't be surprised he's the captain. The guy certainly isn't afraid to put himself out there.

The road less travelled has always appealed to Andrew. Might have something to do with his decision to become an Oiler, when few would invite such a challenge.

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#42 book¡e
June 08 2014, 10:51AM
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Oilers4ever wrote:

Well said sir. Everyone has their right to believe in what they want, their own sexuality, etc. BUT there are far bigger issues in this great world of ours that need to be dealt with.

Way to go Kings for coming back last night. I'm sticking with Kings in 5 even if Quick looks nothing like a Vezina winner these playoffs.

Things to do today.

1. Tell people who spend their time fighting for social justice and fairness that they shouldn't be wasting their time doing so, but rather should be using that time to address issues of poverty and world hunger.

2. Spend time talking about the hockey game I spent time watching last night.

3. If I have time, do something about world hunger and poverty (not likely).

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#43 John
June 07 2014, 02:02PM
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Big deal . Who cares

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#44 Racki
June 07 2014, 04:11PM
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"Zuboora 209.89.100.65 Honestly I am so sick of the gay agenda being shoved down my throat every I look. I don't care about the Pride Parade . . ."

This one made me laugh.. "OMG, there's gay people everywhere, and they're shoving things down my throat!"

I don't think I've ever really encountered anything in my day-to-day life that made me think "whoa, tone it down, gay people!". I actually very rarely even see anyone gay (well, that I know), or any sort of messages from gay people. Does this guy live next door to Elton John or something?

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#45 Joe Mamma
June 08 2014, 11:07AM
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book¡e wrote:

Things to do today.

1. Tell people who spend their time fighting for social justice and fairness that they shouldn't be wasting their time doing so, but rather should be using that time to address issues of poverty and world hunger.

2. Spend time talking about the hockey game I spent time watching last night.

3. If I have time, do something about world hunger and poverty (not likely).

Well said sir.

This argument that "because there are starving children in Africa, we should talk about something else" is just a nice way of telling LGBT rights supporters to shut up. Persecution, ostracism, ridicule and violence towards gays/lesbians/transgendered/etc has made this a serious issue with global implications, that is worthy of discussion and debate. Because it doesn't appeal to your tender sensibilities doesn't make it less so.

If discussion of gay rights makes you uncomfortable, maybe you should read a different article.

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#46 BlazingSaitls
June 07 2014, 12:01PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...given that Michael Sam came out as the first openly gay football player and subsequently got dropped like a hot potato in the NFL draft...what is your best guess Robin as to when, IF EVER, there will be an openly gay NHL player and do you think he would get the treatment Michael Sam got in the aftermath of such a profound event?

I dont see the need to speculate on these hypotheticals. Andrew Ference generated a postive good news story. It didnt need to be speculated on. As long as these stories keep happening, and leaders like Ference chip away at the negative stigma of being a gay, there is a bright future ahead.

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#48 werewolf
June 08 2014, 11:02AM
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hahaha

the soup facist, zarney, bookje, oiler gthat unretired, haiku w, dobbler.

perfect example of people who hijack or troll topics because their lives are incomplete.

I don't care what what you believe, or what sex you like, or race you are. I grew up in a community where many of my friends were of different Ethnic backgrounds and our neighbors of 9 years are female life partners (their words not mine) are very respectable persons, down to earth and friendly. 95% of all these people(in canada) go through life with very few problems. You know why? Because they work hard, raise their children, or support their families, support their charities or societies. They don't jump up and down crying that they are special and they want the world to see them. I understand there is hatred, racism, and other big problems in this world. Remember where you came from, the very people who are straight came together and had a child. Their parents before them and before them and so on and the fathers of these generations fought for your very freedoms you are talking about. So before you paint every straight person with the same brush. remember where you came from. We have all our own opinions and because most of the world who are straight believe what they believe, you dare say their are hateful, ignorant, scared, or look the other way. You very ignorance of real life is distorted by the very hate you talk about. You want to change the world then support the children who by the way are created by 1 man and 1 woman. Actions speak greater than anything. I don't force my life down your throat, so don't try to force yours down mine or make excuses why you have to.

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#49 Joe Mamma
June 08 2014, 11:17AM
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werewolf wrote:

hahaha

the soup facist, zarney, bookje, oiler gthat unretired, haiku w, dobbler.

perfect example of people who hijack or troll topics because their lives are incomplete.

I don't care what what you believe, or what sex you like, or race you are. I grew up in a community where many of my friends were of different Ethnic backgrounds and our neighbors of 9 years are female life partners (their words not mine) are very respectable persons, down to earth and friendly. 95% of all these people(in canada) go through life with very few problems. You know why? Because they work hard, raise their children, or support their families, support their charities or societies. They don't jump up and down crying that they are special and they want the world to see them. I understand there is hatred, racism, and other big problems in this world. Remember where you came from, the very people who are straight came together and had a child. Their parents before them and before them and so on and the fathers of these generations fought for your very freedoms you are talking about. So before you paint every straight person with the same brush. remember where you came from. We have all our own opinions and because most of the world who are straight believe what they believe, you dare say their are hateful, ignorant, scared, or look the other way. You very ignorance of real life is distorted by the very hate you talk about. You want to change the world then support the children who by the way are created by 1 man and 1 woman. Actions speak greater than anything. I don't force my life down your throat, so don't try to force yours down mine or make excuses why you have to.

I'm straight, and I don't believe what you believe. So don't lump all straight people in with your belief system. No one told you you aren't entitled to your beliefs. This diatribe you just wrote is bigotry with window dressing. If you don't want anyone to call you on it, then keep your opinions to yourself. You put them out on a public forum, they're open to dissent.

Or as Confucius says, "a closed mouth collects no feet."

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#50 MattL
June 08 2014, 11:31AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

It's terrifying that you actually think this way. Not only does everyone have to agree with you, but they can't remain silent? Unreal.

Not everyone feels the need to be seen/heard grandstanding with pious public statements. I know your generation has been brainwashed by the media and school system, but some are still capable of independent thought.

For all you "stop ramming your differences down my throat" people, spend the next couple of weeks taking mental note of every time a straight person tells you about how they're attracted to someone of the opposite sex, or kisses their partner in public, or tells you a story about picking up chicks at the bar, etc...

Likely you never complain about the thousands of time hetero people are openly hetero because it's not different from you.

And for "I don't need to see them in skimpy overtly sexual clothing dancing around in public" guy, have you ever been out on Whyte Ave. on Halloween? It's straight pride parade all over the place...

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