Ryan Kesler chosen by Buzzfeed to lead the gay revolution at the 2014 Olympics

It’s not often that the Vancouver Canucks find themselves on Buzzfeed. This is a good thing for several reasons. For one thing, it’s in everybody’s best interests that David Booth be kept as far away from all those animals as possible. For another: Buzzfeed’s writers know very little about the Vancouver Canucks.

At least that’s what I infer from a recent Buzzfeed entry titled Could This Straight Hockey Player Be The Face Of Gay Rights In The Sochi Olympics?, in which a gentleman named Logan Rhoades posits, with what appears to be complete sincerity, that Ryan Kesler, yes, Ryan Kesler could lead the gay uprising in Sochi. He could be Russia’s gay Che Guevara — “Ge Chuevara”, if you will.

I’d say this is the most ridiculous and bewildering thing they’ve ever posted, but “The Story Of Egypt’s Revolution In ‘Jurassic Park’ Gifs” is a thing that exists. This one’s a close second.

The Sochi Olympics are a thorny issue right now. Laws banning homosexuality outright as well as homosexual “propaganda” — defined basically as talking about homosexuality, which is a no-no, especially if you have the gall to explain to a minor that he’s not a freak and it gets better — have led to some calling for a boycott of the Games. You Can Play’s Patrick Burke argued, on Buzzfeed, no less, that proudly showing up would be the better option, and some time after that, the Russian sports minister upped the ante by saying the anti-gay laws would be enforced during the Games.

Would Russia actually go so far as to arrest a gay athlete? Maybe. They would be met with an onslaught of outrage, but considering Pussy Riot’s still in prison there and they just granted Edward Snowden a year’s asylum, it’s pretty clear Russia doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Kesler may, however. What if Russia makes the mistake of taking Buzzfeed seriously, learns they’ve anointed Kesler the face of gay rights, and decides to cut the movement short by imprisoning the Canucks’ centre? While a lot of Vancouverites would probably prefer seeing Kesler behind bars to seeing him back in the red, white and blue, this is not ideal.

Although, ironically, that would make him the face of gay rights.

Rhoades appears to have selected Kesler completely at random (unless, unbeknownst to us, Kesler recently drew the sword from that rainbow-coloured stone, the one with the inscription that reads, “Whoso Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise the Face of Gay Rights in Sochi.”) There’s very little in the way of reasoning in this article.

The argument itself is all of two paragraphs long and based on a massive leap of logic after reading something on this very blog.

At the crossroad of all this is the Vancouver Canucks’ Ryan Kesler. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Michigan native was tied with Patrick Kane for the second most ice time among U.S. forwards, helping Team USA advance to the gold medal game, where he scored a goal. He’s a lock for the 2014 team if he can stay healthy. He also happens to be a vocal supporter of gay rights, having been specifically picked by You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke to be a part of the campaign.

The reason he was picked is simple: Kesler is straight, he’s macho, and he’s respected by nearly everyone in the league. So when he got behind the You Can Play campaign, it made a difference.

Yes, Kesler did record a PSA in support of You Can Play, but so have hundreds of other hockey players. And yes, he was hand-picked by Patrick Burke, largely because he’s super duper straight, and as Burke told us, “one of the goals behind the initiative is breaking down stereotypes and there’s this idea that if you stand up for gay rights, then you must be gay.”

In other words, being hand-picked doesn’t make Kesler the face of gay rights any more than it makes him the face of Clinique. As Burke adds:

 

Burke’s statement that Kesler was respected by everyone in the league, a phrase Rhoades repeated, also gets too much play. That was more of a figure of speech. A figure of speech that no one uses.

And as for whether Kesler’s PSA made a notable difference, I’m not sure what that’s based on. It contributed to the movement, sure, but not any more than any other You Can Play PSA.

Frankly, I always got the sense that this photo had a larger impact on the gay community:

Anyway. I’m sure Kesler will be thrilled when his agent tells him Buzzfeed won’t stop calling to ask him if he’ll be their King Leonidas and kick homophobia into a well.

Stick to lists, Buzzfeed. In fact, here’s a list idea: 37 hockey players that are a more appropriate face of gay rights than Ryan Kesler. Hell, cram it full of “Jurassic Park” gifs for all we care.

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24 comments

  1. akiddddd
    August 1, 2013

    kesler should totally do it!

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  2. Say Something
    August 1, 2013

    Really ? I didn’t even know Kess was gay

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    • Nee
      August 1, 2013

      So if you support gay rights you must be gay? Ignorant comment.

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  3. OJ Sampson
    August 1, 2013

    Who knew that photo would urn into this. = rights!

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  4. Chris
    August 1, 2013

    I’m just curious why the tone of this article is so antagonistic. You almost seem to be suggesting that Kes is anti-gay…

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  5. Nee
    August 1, 2013

    Totally agree. Not sure why Kesler, of all the thousands who will be competing at the Olympics, was singled out. I’m sure he supports the cause, evidenced by his PSA, but he’s generally a guy who has a thorny relationship with the media. I’m not sure he would be comfortable with this mantle, even if Buzzfeed made a compelling case for it (which they didn’t).

    On another note, I prefer the idea support for gay rights emanating from many, many people at the Olympics, rather than focusing on one specific guy. I think if loads of athletes who support gay rights made noise at Sochi next year (Pride march at the start of the Olympics, visiting Pride house, giving supportive interviews, etc) that would be more powerful. And, if there are a bunch of people flouting Russia’s anti-gay laws, I doubt the authorities would be brave enough to follow through with arrests.

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  6. Brent
    August 1, 2013

    Guess the figure skating program is gone!Why one would want to support abnormal behavior is beyond me.Your time would be better spent Kess doing something that helps a large group[ of people and not some small group who’s behavior is counter survival !

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    • PB
      August 1, 2013

      A big Putin supporter are you Brent?

      It would have to take a boycott of 1980 (or 1984) proportions to really stand up to Russia’s insane state-sanctioned/sponsored homophobia and that’s unlikely to happen. There are just so many things wrong with the Russian state it’s hard to know where to begin.

      At least we’ll have a parade of videos to look forward to with Putin wrestling bears, killing wolves with his bare hands and hauling enormous fish out of the Volga prior to the games.

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      August 1, 2013

      Wow, really? Maybe it’s got something to do with standing up the rights of people who are discriminated against solely based on their sexual orientation. Whether you agree or not with their orientation shouldn’t be relevant.

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    • Max
      August 2, 2013

      Really! first off Elvis Stoiko (hope i spelled it right) was a fantastic figure skater and not gay. Secondly, what is wrong with you? Are you that ignorant to judge and discriminate people for being the way they are? Your parents failed at raising a decent human. I bet you’ve watched lesbian porn, does that make you sick for enjoying something that is counter survival as you say?

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      • Taco
        August 4, 2013

        I mean, if there is anything we can all get behind it’s lesbian porn right? And by “get behind” I don’t mean…. Oh no never mind. They are are lesbian right? They wouldn’t be into it. Would they…..? Unpost! Unpost!

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  7. Richard Ewing
    August 1, 2013

    Why shouldn’t he do it?

    There’s no major reason presented for why he should… but there also isn’t one for why he shouldn’t, either.

    I think it would be pretty rad if he did decide to go with the internet flow with this and made a human rights point in Sochi. If I were him, I’d do it even if it meant two weeks in Russian prison and a “criminal record,” that no legitimate country in the world would take seriously or frown upon. It’d be an honour.

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  8. Tristin
    August 2, 2013

    I’m just putting this out there now, if Russia imprisons Kes, then we kinda have to go to war with Russia to get him back, because otherwise there’s no way in hell we win the cup without him. And something tells me there may not be much of a “choice” when Bieksa loses his crap and decides to march into the KGB headquarters guns blazing…

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    • PB
      August 2, 2013

      We clearly have a better plotline for the 13-14 Canucks than winning the Cup — defeating evil Mother Russia (since we passed on Nichushkin, traded Shirokov and gave up on Fedor Fedorov I don’t think we’ve got any connections left — well, I guess we’d have to go to war after retiring Bure’s jersey).

      I can see it now — we set the berserker Kassian, Angry Bieksa and the Honey Badger loose on them first (Danes hate Russians, don’t they?), with Sestito finally useful as cannon fodder. Kesler and Burrows annoy/harry their flanks, while Garrison lobs bombs from afar, the Sedins come up with crafty moves in tight, Hamhuis and Tanev hold down the fort at home, Luongo gets confused about which side he’s on, and Edler makes some crazy and ill-advised checks while wondering who to drop the next pass to.

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  9. Buster
    August 3, 2013

    This is a low for PiTB. I’m not sure why some random website selecting, for whatever random reason, Kesler for the job should be so upsetting to you. Love this site but this turned my stomach a little.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      August 3, 2013

      For the record, it also upset Patrick Burke, the guy behind You Can Play who asked Kesler to do the PSA video in the first place. Buzzfeed is a major website that gets a millions of pageviews and they randomly chose Kesler for no reason whatsoever while doing no research at all and they deserve to be called out for it.

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    • PB
      August 4, 2013

      Can you explain why it’s such a low or so stomach-turning? I though it was amusing in the sense that a) Buzzfeed gets a fair amount of reads and b) demonstrates once again most Americans complete lack of knowledge of hockey. Actually it reminded me of an earlier post about some show where one of the characters was trying to demonstrate their hockey cred by referencing something that made zero sense (something about a breakaway). It’s also a sad reminder of how disastrously insane Russia is in general these days — censorship, homophobia, xenophobia, and an oligarchy run by ex-KGB and GRU thugs. I’m curious what part of it you find such a low point.

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      • Buster
        August 5, 2013

        PB, TJ below has basically outlined my concerns. As TJ points out there is a large measure of defensiveness in the article – as if the idea that Kesler would make a stand for gay rights in Russia an outrageous slander. Why? Why was Harrison so distressed?

        It seems obvious to me why Kesler was chosen: it was because of that photo. Kesler’s a grown man and he seems intelligent and he must have know that that photo would appeal to a large number of women and even larger number of gay men.

        Kesler put himself into a position where he would become an object he of gay-desire and the underlying message is that, as a straight male, he was comfortable with that arrangement. He is therefore a great candidate for the proposed job: a uber-male playing an uber-masculine sport, a man who is idealized by straight-men but who is comfortable with gay culture.

        A gay athlete has a reason, almost an obligation, to make a stand. Kesler doesn’t and that makes his taking a stand more significant.

        I think Harrison is one of the best hockey bloggers around. He’s an intelligent guy. I’m just disappointed by this piece.

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        • PB
          August 5, 2013

          Fair enough, I can see your point. I didn’t really read the original article in that way but I can see where you’re coming from. I thought it was more of a slow NHL news day and was mostly focused on (again) the inane way that most American sites cover hockey (if they do at all). That particular photoshoot from Kesler has already been used a number of times for a nudge-nudge-wink-wink set of sophomoric jokes between Kesler, Bieksa, Luongo and others, but perhaps here it’s really not the wisest to reference it in this manner.

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  10. tj
    August 5, 2013

    I’m confused: is this PiTB’s ‘Pride post’? I’m reading a lot of defensiveness in this one, and tbh I’m not sure why it was written. Is the mere suggestion that Kess could be the face of gay rights at Sochi in real need of a counter-piece? Particularly one larger than the initial piece? Not to mention the mixed messages/curious connections culminating with the infamous naked Kess pic? (It’s all reads sort of awkward. Like straight-guys-talking-about-gays awkward.)

    If the intention was to dispel or stonewall (see what I did there ;) ) any rumours about Kess, or mock Buzzfeed for being terrible journos, or to get more maked-Kess hits, then what’s actually been achieved is more attention to the non-story, not less. And although I think there have been a couple of intelligently humorous comments, as a number of the responses prove posts of these sort on sites whose demographic seems rather straight, tend to elicit homophobic responses, which isn’t, you know, esp gay-friendly.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely sure you meant well by the post. But really, Buzzfeed’s ‘article’ is meant to capitalize on hot-button topics (Sochi, Russian homophobia, famous hockey players), with ‘buzz’ words that’ll get a whole lot of hits. I’m kind of surprised you jumped into that muck, as I’m sure you know that Buzzfeed’s raison d’être is site-hits. So they can now thank PitB for the continued publicity on a non-story. Perhaps You Can Play will also gets a tad more publicity too, on Pride weekend. Personally, I’d have preferred the latter get the greater focus instead of the aggregator/ aggravator that is BF.

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    • Canucklehead_in_NC
      August 5, 2013

      While I normally count myself among the ranks of PITB’s biggest fans, I have to agree with TJ and Buster on this one. This post, whose intended target was the ridiculosity and randomness of Buzzfeed, ends up wading (unintentionally, I’m sure) into territory that sounds an awful lot more like abhorrence of the idea of Kes as a vocal supporter of gay rights, rather than abhorrence of the pitiful standard of what passes for “journalism” over at Buzzfeed. I’ll reiterate that I, as a huge fan and long-time reader of this blog, am reasonably confident that such an interpretation is NOT what you intended, but I’m also reasonably confident (and that confidence is boosted by several of the comments on this very post) that not all of the consumers of this blog share the intelligence, wit, and subtlety which make PITB so awesome. Obviously you can’t control how people (mis)read and (mis)interpret your words, but on an issue as thorny and divisive as this one, I’m a little disappointed that your anti-Buzzfeed message gets a little lost in the ambiguity of the sarcasm in paragraphs like your penultimate one. Why shouldn’t Kes be thrilled to be pegged (randomly or not) as a spokesman for a cause he has already publicly supported?

      I know your intention in writing this was in no way homophobic, and was likely quite the opposite, but, as TJ so eloquently points out, I just wish the tone and focus of the article had been constructed in a way that left no room for the question…

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  11. Al
    August 5, 2013

    Since the Olympics is a sports event, why would gayness even come up?

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    • PB
      August 6, 2013

      Because sports don’t exist in a vacuum and many people have wondered how Russia’s virulently homophobic turn (in practice and law) in the last decade especially will affect athletes who attend who might be gay and whether those who disagree with what Putin’s cronies are doing should take a principled stand. Much as with the boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles summer olympics, Ali tossing his medals into the river, the fists in the air, Carlos Delgado refusing to leave the dugout during the US anthem, and many other instances, politics has everything to do with sports.

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  12. Yuri
    August 7, 2013

    My suggestion to all of you, including PITB, and especially PB, since you seem to be the most brain challenge, to actually read the law, for a change, and not be, perhaps, if possible, a typical North American reading the highlights only from your media which, incidentally, would make Pravda of 1976 jealous, so much full of sh.. It is.
    Canucks fan forever…..

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