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Mark Tewksbury celebrates after winning gold in the men's 100-metre backstroke.
Mark Tewksbury celebrates after winning gold in the men's 100-metre backstroke.

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Mark Tewksbury on sports and sexuality Add to ...

By deciding to come out of the closet, Brendan Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, has seemingly deepened the bond with his father and brought himself a measure of relief, but, perhaps most important of all, has shed some light on the ongoing battle athletes face in revealing their homosexuality.

Of course, Brendan Burke is not the first person involved in sports to make that decision. Far from it.

His comments merely echo those of many who came before him, athletes who, sometimes unwillingly, were identified as homosexual and forced to live with the consequences, whatever they may have been.

One such pioneer was Mark Tewksbury. The first Canadian athlete to voluntarily reveal his sexual orientation while still competing, Mark Tewksbury has long talked about his struggles in the world of sports. A multiple medalist as a swimmer at the Barcelona and Seoul Olympics, Mr. Tewksbury worked as a motivational speaker for a financial company before he was fired because of his sexual orientation.

Mr. Tewksbury continued to work as a motivational speaker and became an advocate for gay rights. He joined the board of directors for the 2006 World Outgames, held in Montreal, and wrote about the experience of being a gay athlete in his autobiography. Mr. Tewksbury was online and answered your questions Thursday.

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