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.



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.”



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.

  • The Soup Fascist

    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? happy.

    • bazmagoo

      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.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I commend the support Ference showed my marching in the Parade. I dont care what other people do in their bedrooms…and hopefully I will live my life not being judged for the freaky stuff I do in mine.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I also just want to point out one piece of this excellent article:

    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.

    I think it takes courage and is also a sign of progress for someone to say they have changed. Especially in print, on a public forum.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    • 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?

  • This is a good example of the problem with the oilers…to much emphasis on good people over good hockey players. I’m happy for Andrew. ..he’s clearly a good dude, but, oil will stagnant with him as captain o capitan. Hall at gay parade?

  • werewolf

    Wow, what is wrong with people today, always some group hijacking olympics, sports events, important events to promote their sexuality, religion, color, please give it a rest. This is about the Stanley Cup playoffs, not some cheap advertising to say that i am gay, straight, black, blue, purple, white, brown, race.
    You want to make a difference in the world then do something about the 21,000 children dying every day.
    Education of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults.
    7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year.
    Many more diseases, drug wars and violence, people killed from wars.

    You people want to advertise, or make your political statement then put your money or support where you mouth is and donate or support the real problems of today and if you dont know what i mean then let me help you.
    example: the gay pride society donated 1 million dollars to the the children in somalia or muslim faith donated 10 million dollars to the illiterate society. Or better yet 10,000 people from the gay pride or SPCA society volunteered their time and money to help the children of india, somalia, brazil, etc.
    Robin, andrew ferrence or whatever celebrate or athlete who decides to make headlines, why dont you help the children of today so that their future helps change the world of tomorrow. Racism, bullying, hatred, war, disease, famine. You know what makes me sick, that some football athlete, or hockey player, or the miserable phone solicitor or tv advertisement showing this poor dog or kitten in a cage, or some athlete coming out about his sexual preference, or some religious fanatic or gunman get front page News. where some 21000 children die each day, or the billion children starving to death. That’s how you promote you group or society or whatever the hell your idealogy is.
    This is about the oilers or the Stanley Cup and thats why i like reading oilersnation.
    If you want to talk about something political, take it to a forum, paper, talk show or better yet do something about the real problems of the world otherwise stay on topic


    • book¡e

      Many of the problems you are talking about in the world have roots in issues of intolerance, hate, and ignorance. Belligerents and political opportunists take advantage of this ignorance to prevent institutional progress that would lead to solutions to these problems. One of the reasons that we enjoy such a great quality of life in Canada today is because generations people have fought to overcome ethnic, linguistic, religious, gender, and more recently sexual preference prejudice and ignorance.

      So, I’m sorry that your important Stanley Cup was interrupted by Andrew Ferrence and Robin Brownlee doing their little part to contribute to the overall progress of society.

      Instead of professing your ignorance here, I would suggest that you are free to share you ideas and actions to contribute to addressing the issues that you raise. Don’t spend your time denigrating the efforts of others. Use your time and energy to make the world a better place.

    • Dobbler

      Writers on this site talk about local public events all the time, as well as telling personal stories that have little to nothing to do with hockey, talk about local edmonton politics. Some of it doesn’t interest me at all (the negotiations for the new arena articles didn’t do anything for me). You know what I did? I used this magical technology call “the scroll wheel”, and scrolled past those articles. You know what I didn’t do? Post two paragraphs to complain that they’re not writing what I want them to. Take a look at yourself and ask if your complaint isn’t the sign of something else, my friend.

      It seems like the remainder of your criticism is that Brownlee and Ference and anyone else who supports gay rights, are only capable of supporting one cause, and so supporting gay rights somehow does harm to other good causes. That sucks that we have to choose only one cause. What do I go with? Amnesty international, Unicef or Doctors without borders? Clearly I can’t support all of them.

    • book¡e

      Further, I would add that I have dedicated a good part of my life towards the supply of water to rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa (both in terms of charitable work and my academic research), so I am one of those people dealing with the ‘real problems’ you are discussing. From that perspective, I want to let you know that your comment demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of the issues you are discussing. If you really care about these concerns, I would encourage you to spend some time becoming informed.

      I highly recommend books by individuals such as Amartya Sen, Jeffery Sachs, Daron Acemoglu, Paul Collier, Dambisa Moyo, Hernando de Soto Polar,and Joseph Stiglitz. These are mostly development theorists and economists who provide diverse (and sometimes contradictory) perspectives on issues of development and poverty. What you will find is how important strong institutions (government and other) are to overcoming poverty. It may help you understand how the efforts of Andrew Ferrence at the Pride Parade are more in line with overcoming the cause of poverty than you are.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        I’d also recommend Ha-Joon Chang, adding to your list of development theorists.

        Ference’s leadership and participation in the community has been stellar since being named Captain. Bravo mon capitan.

        • book¡e

          Wow, lots of people trashing your comment. It appears that Ha-Joon Chang is not popular here. I suspect that is is because his work is too reminiscent of dependency theory where blame is directed solely at forces external to the local population and it exaggerates the limits of agency (and thus responsibility) of those in developing nations themselves.

          Perhaps the ‘Trashers’ can clarify?

    • Oilers4ever

      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.

      • book¡e

        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).

        • Joe Mamma

          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.

    • paul wodehouse

      Question…why would my comment be pulled when I replied to this ?

      …and for manfly …strange and you get 8 cheers and 3 trashes seemingly defending my 3 words…this bunch on here is fickle…but entertainingly so…I still think Draisaitl should be taken number 3 overall if he’s available…
      AND I think he can do more pullups than Bennett

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    It all boils down to this.

    Those who are against the Pride Parade are just afraid. Afraid that the sexuality of some people might rub off on themselves, or “heaven forbid” they might actually get “hit on” by a gay person.

    BIG FREAKING DEAL. One individuals sexual choices DO NOT affect me. I am straight with many gay friends. Their sexual preferences matter not.

    If you are nice to me, I will be nice to you.

  • book¡e

    I am sure that similar comments were made about the many ‘Italian’ celebrations (including parades and marches in some communities) of the 1800s and early 20th century. These were efforts to bring a group of discriminated people together to strengthen their solidarity as a community to combat the prejudices that they faced.

    I would suggest that many of you who are complaining about the parade and RB’s article are indeed people who have benefited from the efforts made by people in the past who have fought against predjudice. Even as a white individual of British descent, I have benefited from being a part of society where people are free to succeed regardless of who they are.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Good on Ference. I can’t believe Sean Avery managed to stop being a d-bag long enough to promote a worthy cause. I guess he gets a pat on the back as well, but just one.

  • Joe Mamma

    I don’t have any problem with the gay pride parade, as I support the LGBT community and equal rights for all. I do however tend to agree that the overt sexual displays and the costumes (or lack thereof) during the parade are a bit over the top, and not necessary to get the point across. I don’t think small children need to be exposed to this kind of overt sexual behaviour, regardless of orientation. And there are a great many in attendance, and even more in the general vicinity. I think that the community on the whole would gain more credibility and respect if the method of delivery was more tasteful. I’m no prude, but this is a public function after all. Maybe as the acceptance of the LGBT community continues to grow, eventually the need to grandstand will subside, and the parade will become more about celebrating diversity and equal rights, and less about showing off.

  • book¡e

    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?

  • werewolf


    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.

    • Joe Mamma

      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.”

    • book¡e

      I do support the children who are created by one man and one women. The difference between you and I is that I choose to support ALL of them.

      Seriously, confident ignoramuses like yourself are THE biggest single problem in society. With a lack of any level of critical thinking you push forward your views regardless of their inherent logical fallacies that are so evident to any competent reader.

      Your response to this will be to self confidently laugh in self assuring superiority. You are right, you are sure of it. Don’t bother spending 5 minutes thinking about it, no sense in bothering to do so when you are so certain.

    • Do what Weight did?

      Just curious, Werewolf: what would your neighbors of 9 years think about your two long posts? Would they agree that “95% of all these people go through life with very few problems”? Would they side with you, that the pride parade is not a way to “support the real problems of today”? Or that fighting for equality and tolerance for the LGBT is not a way to “make a real difference in the world”?

      I believe there’s room for intelligent, productive debate that offers a contrary opinion to the (recently) popular point of view that being gay is normal. I just hope you can see that anyone looking for intelligent and productive ideas is better off skipping your posts!

  • book¡e

    Even Brian Burke marched in the Toronto parade!
    People having varying reason for showing support for whatever they choose. Its a free world. Who are we to judge.

  • Joe Mamma

    The world we live in will always have people of differing opinions, it’s what makes each of us unique. Being truly “tolerant”, means (not necessarily agreeing with but at least) having respect for all opinions. How can one claim to be “more accepting” than another when whomever disagrees with their or public opinion is an “idiot” or a “Neanderthal”?

  • 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.

  • @Robin Brownlee

    These types of articles are important.

    When I first started reading it, I was of the opinion that some others on here have expressed. “I’m straight, you’re not. Don’t care because it doesn’t bother me either way. Why does the LGBT community need a parade?” I do my best to treat people as they treat others: with fairness, honesty and compassion.

    I knew the facts but it connected for me after reading the comments… there are those in the LGBT community who have been bullied, both emotionally and physically. There are those who feel alone, desperate and even suicidal.

    An event like this is an important way for everyone to reach out to those that are hurting because of the prejudice surrounding the LGBT community and let them know that they’re not alone.

    Thank you Robin.

    Thank you Andrew Ference, for setting an important example.

    And thank you OilersNation.

  • werewolf

    joe momma
    hahaha classic 5% hater, your the type that thinks because people don’t support a movement that they must be a bigot or racist.
    I bet dollars to donuts if you don’t get a job its because someone must have been against you instead of you not having the qualifications.
    you know what’s funny, their are many societies or movements that had great intentions to start with then you get the fanatical wacko’s. Anybody who lumps the shriners, halloween, as straight parades only proves their ignorance.
    Just so you know there just as many racists, bigots, bullies in minorities, try living in their cultures and you would know what i mean.
    You want to Promote Equality, then do it right and be proud of it. But don’t let the radicals control it or speak for you because you don’t want the heat on you. Most people will judge you on what your actions are, don’t let the bigots like the L.A. clippers owner paint everybody with the same brush. The 5% of the pride movement that Bump and grind and making lude acts does not promote equality but leaves an impression on the rest who watch on the news or read in the papers a bad impression. Just like Trolls like you and some of the others here who post crap and talk out the side of their mouths. try growing up being metis’ where your not wanted by either side.

  • Joe Mamma

    This is what bothers me about idolizing atheletes….go drinking after a game, dont talk about it….do drugs dont talk about it….participate in hazings….dont talk about…go on a parade well then talk about it….too much double standards in my opinion… either talk about all of ice activities or nothing…

    • paul wodehouse

      …I go back to the battlefield once in awhile after the smoke has cleared and I see what’s left over…and it’s invariably the carpetbaggers like you Sorensenator…walking around looking for stuff to rummage around in and take back to your hole in the ground where you will inevitably emerge again when there’s a topic to mess up … LOL

  • Rob...

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

    I believe that people fear things the don’t understand or want to understand. I believe that a portion of those people *choose* to turn that fear into hatred, and cloak it in everything from reverse persecution to religion.

    I believe that most people love the us vs. them scenario. It makes them feel big and bold. It is the driving force behind high school being awesome for some and a living hell for others. It’s why I hear stories of the way Flames and Stamps fans treat anyone wearing an opponents jersey who dares cheer for their team. It’s also why it sucks to be part of a minority in ANY country of the world; and anyone who believes that those of a single race, colour or creed have a monopoly on hate hasn’t paid attention to anything but their own small corner of the world.

    Hey Haters! Do you want to know why this parades exist? It exists because this small minority of society is not going to go away. They are not going to be bullied into non-existence, or closets, or suicide. Deny it all you want, those are the only three options you would consider acceptable. I’d say ‘shame on you’, but every decade it seems that those even capable of shame are becoming more the minority. Maybe those capable of human decency will soon need their own parade to show the rest of the world they still exist and are proud of who they are.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    You’ve got eyes and a neck. They can turn away and look at something else! If you aren’t pleased with seeing GLBT people raising awareness, change the channel, look away, find something else to pay attention to. Your contempt only speaks about your own personal character.

    This board reminds me of the story my parents told me of how my mother lost a lot of credibility in her workplace because she married a ‘man of colour’. Thankfully the world is progressing despite a very, ignorant few.