Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: dcsportsbog and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS
Posted at 5:36 PM ET, 01/12/2011

A Caps blog for guys who like guys

By Dan Steinberg

As the Caps blogosphere has grown into one of the most vibrant and diverse team-centered Internet communities in pro sports, we've seen Web sites devoted to just about every niche imaginable. There's one Caps blog that trades in spirituality, and another that's based on motherhood. There's one Caps blog devoted entirely to Alex Ovechkin coverage, and another that's devoted entirely to LOL jokes. There's one blog written by a former Caps team statistician who's followed the team for several decades, and another photo-based site impressively helmed by a teenager.

But you know what's been missing? A Caps blog for guys who like guys.

"Not that there was a clamor for a gay hockey fanboy site or anything,but we thought maybe there was something we could contribute to the game as fans and as outsiders," said Craig Brownstein, who created the Puck Buddys blog with his partner Doug Johnson this month. "There seemed to be a wide opening for a blog out there, with an unorthodox twist, from the gay perspective."

Brownstein -- a 52-year old public-relations executive -- got into the Caps around the same time so many other Washingtonians did, during their playoff push in the spring of 2008. Johnson -- a 46-year old journalist -- is from Detroit, a longtime Red Wings fan who's recently developed a second hockey allegiance. They aren't sure how many gay Caps fans are out there -- Johnson claims to spot hundreds while walking the Verizon Center concourse, and Brownstein isn't as convinced. But they wanted to add something "cheeky and offbeat" to the Caps' online community, while continuing to learn about the franchise and the game.

And thus, mixed in with discussions of power plays and first-period struggles and Pittsburgh loathing, you might come across quotes from Tim Gunn, DILF references and discussions of whether Alex Ovechkin looks hotter shaggy or close-cropped.

"If you want straight Caps writing, there's no shortage of it out there," Brownstein said, pun thoroughly intended. "We could make endless jokes about access to the locker room, but that's not really what we're about. We're gonna do it cheeky, but we're gonna be respectful to the franchise and we're gonna be respectful to the players."

The pair, it turns out, has plenty of experience growing online communities. They're part of the group behind the Who Murdered Robert Wone web site, which helped form a community of interested readers, lawyers and media folks around a prominent D.C. killing. That earned a long Washington Post profile, and 2 million page views over two years.

The hockey thing is more a lark. Neither man played the sport growing up; Brownstein played high school football for four years and briefly tried figure skating, but "even for me, that just felt a little too gay," he joked. Their decision to go online was sparked by the digital energy around this team -- they read the same blogs you do -- and also by the Comcast SportsNet announcing duo of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin, who have served as Brownstein's hockey mentors. Such is his admiration for Locker that Brownstein recently got a Winter Classic throwback jersey with Laughlin's name and number, which he plans on wearing to Sunday's home game.

"Everything I've learned about hockey has come from Joe B. and Locker," Brownstein told me. "You can't watch them and not become a fan of the sport."

The Puck Buddys site is still in its infancy, and Johnson and Brownstein aren't sure what it might become. Could they add correspondents in other cities to offer a gay perspective on rival teams? Partner with gay ice hockey clubs or gay players? Shelve the jokes about "scoring," observations of player hotness and descriptions of Alexander Semin as "a dreamboat," and join the horde of credentialed Caps bloggers in the press box, prompting Clinton Portis's head to explode?

"We're trying to find our niche, to grow a community that can help us better understand the game," Brownstein said. "There did not seem to be a gay fan hockey site out there. That's why we thought we'd give it a shot."

By Dan Steinberg  | January 12, 2011; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Anthony Armstrong wants Donovan McNabb back
Next: High school football team uses Nats logo

Comments

Awesome!

Posted by: amberlynne | January 12, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm fairly including myself, but having played hockey my whole life, gays are about as accepted by hockey players as they are by the Taliban.

Anyway, good luck covering the team and trying to get a press credential!

Posted by: philarmy | January 12, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

*inclusive

Posted by: philarmy | January 12, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Steinberg, one reason I love your Bog is because I just never know what I'll see there. Carry on!

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | January 12, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

... having played hockey my whole life, gays are about as accepted by hockey players as they are by the Taliban.

Posted by: philarmy

I'm gay and played the game and found that once guys on my team got used to me being out, it wasn't a big deal in the ways you might guess. But it was a big deal in one way that might surprise you...

I decided to come out to my team because I got tired of having to refer to guys I was dating as "they" and "them," and I got tired of always declining social events involving girlfriends, dates, etc. And most of all, I *hated* lying to teammates. So, I told a couple guys on my team, had their support, and they encouraged me to tell the team one night after practice: just... get it out there.

As you might guess, it was a bit of a tense scene in the room. I later learned a few guys feared I was seriously ill or something. Once people realized I was ok, just gay, attention turned to one of the guys on our team who always made anti-gay comments (you can easily imagine them). Everybody was sorta waiting to see how he'd handle things and I really wanted to be cool with him, not press him, and let him speak his mind. But...

He just sorta sat there and everybody was totally silent until I asked him if he was ok. He said: "yeah, I mean, it's just two bros... and as long as you don't go for me, I'm cool." The room took a sigh of relief and then I said: "dude I said I was gay, not blind" and the whole room erupted with laughter. :-) After that we were all very much ok.

Guys on opposing teams of course found out and gave me holy hell just as philarmy indicates above. They told me I was, well, not welcome. Some took runs at me. (It's part of the game.)

I could take care of myself; but often I didn't have a chance. My teammates ALWAYS came to my defense when opponents said/did stuff. My teammates even heard stuff I didn't hear and stuff would break out and after I'd ask what caused it and guys would tap me and say: "you."

And that formerly anti-gay guy was usually the first one in someone's face. So, you never know what might happen; but I applaud people who are honest and cool about what for many is still a tough subject.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | January 12, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Its not that hockey players don't like gays, rather its just not conducive to the team environment to have gays in the locker room. Especially from bantams (age 13/14) onward, where there is consistent nudity in the locker room and team showering. I could imagine that it wouldn't be comfortable getting ready for the game and showering afterwards when there's someone in the locker room potentially checking you out.

Posted by: philarmy | January 13, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

"There seemed to be a wide opening for a blog out there, with an unorthodox twist, from the gay perspective."
------------------------------
interesting choice of words

Posted by: randysbailin | January 13, 2011 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It'll be so easy to spot Brownstein at the game on Sunday. Because he'll be the only one with a Winter Classic Laughlin jersey. Geesh, what did you think I meant?

Posted by: Section104 | January 13, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Its not that hockey players don't like gays, rather its just not conducive to the team environment to have gays in the locker room. Especially from bantams (age 13/14) onward, where there is consistent nudity in the locker room and team showering. I could imagine that it wouldn't be comfortable getting ready for the game and showering afterwards when there's someone in the locker room potentially checking you out.

Posted by: philarmy

It doesn't work exactly that way, philarmy. Your comments seem right on-the-money and earnest, so I'm responding to you in that light.

Speaking now from the angle of a 13/14 year old hockey player who spent as much time in locker rooms as my teammates, who knew I liked boys back then, but, who, believe it or not, didn't know I was "gay" (while I knew what "gay/homosexual" was, at 13/14/15/16, I *still* hadn't connected that *I* was "gay" -- trust me: it's a really difficult concept to live through much less explain in writing)...

Indeed there were guys on my team and other teams that "caught my eye" JUST as there were guys in my history class or geometry class who caught my eye. And, true, the difference with hockey and locker rooms was guys were changing in and out of gear AND guys were having frank sexual talk (about girls in school etc.) that didn't exist in math and english classes AND STILL... I didn't check guys out the way I'd guess most people might guess a gay guy would.

Why not? Being in the room was all about the game, playing, trying to get a goal. It was all about being part of a team and beating those other guys from x or y. It was all about guys being GUYS and, I guess, the sex part, the "checking out guys" in a sexual way didn't enter the scene, philarmy. Honestly.

Now, it sounds like you played hockey or some sport and so, you know, guys do check out one another in terms of who is developing their body etc. Guys compare muscles at that age, etc. But, like checking a guy out the way, say, my teammates would have checked one of the cheerleaders if she changed and showered with us? No. I mean... they were my teammates.

Later in life, at 18/19 when I came out (in college) my teammates realized this first hand: I mean... I came out and didn't change. I was still me. We still did everything we did before. And eventually I talked with them about guys I was dating the way they talked with me about girls they dated.

Your point philarmy is an excellent one in that were a guy in the room checking out other guys in a sexual manner it would be beyond uncomfortable. It just wouldn't be right. Sort of like the women media in the locker room issue. But once people realize that it doesn't become a sexual thing -- much less an unwanted sexual thing for someone -- I found everything is ok.

And last, for any gay or questioning kids who might be reading this, I want to quote philarmy, who couldn't be MORE on the money: "It's not that hockey players don't like gays..." I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | January 13, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@ capscapscaps2:

I have an uncle and many gay friends. I have coined a phrase over the years that sums it up:

"You should like someone for who they are, not who they do."

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 13, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@ jmurray019:

Awesome. I laughed out lol, literally. (Guess that makes that a lol,l ?)

Bottom lines for me:

1. I really do applaud people who are honest and cool about what, for lots of people is a tough subject, and,

2. GO CAPS!

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | January 13, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

capscapscaps, much respect to you for sharing your story and doing what you did. That took guts and I really learned something from you. Thank you.

Posted by: stwasm | January 13, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@ stwasm: thanks for that, man (or woman). I appreciate it and I'll say this last thing since you referenced that it "took guts" on my part....

Coming out to myself was THE HARDEST thing I've ever done. Yes, I knew I liked other boys from my earliest memories. It became more obvious at 13/14/15/16 as I said. But, gay? Me? I cannot find words to describe what that process is like, stwasm.

Coming out to the guys on my team was incredibly hard, too. Harder than I can ever say. Indeed, it took "guts" and one thing more: respect for my teammates. Let me explain...

On so many levels, it shouldn't and doesn't matter that I'm gay. (What matters is I'm a RW!) That said, EVERY time the guys asked me to a social event, "bring a girl, dude" and I responded with "nah, man, I'm busy.. got an exam, etc." or every time the guys asked me about a date and I said stuff like "they were ok," or "I liked them," etc., I was LYING -- to them, to the concept of respecting your teammates.

THIS, and this alone in my mind, is the ONLY reason them knowing I am gay matters. I hear people talk about there being a "choice" to being gay... In truth the ONLY "choice" is this ... being honest OR not being honest with the people closest to you. And if you aren't being honest with your team, well, then you're not really part of that team, now, are you? (THIS is what hockey's taught me, btw.)

So...I set out the strategy I referenced earlier AND there was one other piece: I had to realize that as hard as it was for me to get used to/accept the truth (what did it take me six, seven years? ten?), the guys would also need time. And as crazy concerned as I was for myself (are they gonna hate me? are they gonna kill me? are they gonna kick me off the team?), I also worked my a$$ off to put them/their reaction/their need for time and honest answers FROM me above my own worries for myself.

Team first, period.

In the process, I learned this: hockey players are really pretty amazing people. Yes, we're lunks, dinks, knuckleheads (stick tap all around, guys), BUT at the end of the day the game, the sport... well it just producers winners.

I found that, like you stwasm, people around me learned something. That, yes, philarmy is right: it's not that hockey players don't like gays it's just that there's lots and lots of misinformation out there. It's sort of like the game itself in that regard: it's moving... fast.

But when you slow it down in the room, take a deep breath, put the bigger goal of the team first... THAT'S when magic happens.

I don't want to "comment dominate" Dan's blog today; so I'll say this last thing on this thread:

GO CAPS!!! See everybody at Verizon... (and in the other threads).

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | January 13, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

capscapscaps2, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Truly inspirational stuff.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | January 13, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

If you want to blog hockey, blog hockey.

If you want to be gay, be gay.

What purpose is it serving to intermingle the two, other than to turn off about 95% of your potential readership? I may as well start a Caps blog for racists.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | January 13, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

If you want to blog hockey, blog hockey.

If you want to be gay, be gay.

What purpose is it serving to intermingle the two, other than to turn off about 95% of your potential readership? I may as well start a Caps blog for racists.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | January 13, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

If it's good enough for our military, it's good enough for hockey!

And by your standards, TCJR, we may as well separate heterosexuality from the sports blogs. I mean, if you want to blog sports, blog sports. If you want to be straight, be straight.

I guess what's good for the goose ain't good for the gander, eh?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"I may as well start a Caps blog for racists."

Gold, man. Pure gold.

Posted by: tke2 | January 13, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

it's refreshing to come across a comment page on the post which isn't full of vitriol and ire.

Posted by: j762 | January 13, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Here's my final thoughts on the matter. As a hockey player, I wouldn't want other gays in my locker room. Its nothing against gay people or anything like that, its just that in my eyes the mere act of homosexuality is repulsive. I simply can't be around or deal with homosexuals because of this. I just can't do it because when I'm in the proximity of a homosexual male, all I can think is that that person likes ******* in his bodily cavities.

Call me closed-minded, but it is something I've always felt that way about. To reference an oft-quoted line in homosexuality debates,

"It is simply the way I was born".

Posted by: philarmy | January 13, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Call me closed-minded, but it is something I've always felt that way about. To reference an oft-quoted line in homosexuality debates,

"It is simply the way I was born".

Posted by: philarmy | January 13, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse


To reference an oft-quoted line from the right in homosexuality debates,

"Keep it to yourself, shut up, and get over it."

Posted by: ModestProposal | January 13, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

John, how many hockey blogs can you think of where sexual preference is a pervasive topic? I can find only this one. If you want to say all the other ones are implicitly heterosexual, fine, but that's where most people are going to be. Putting that much of the blog's focus on homosexuality is not making it inclusive. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't expect it to become much more than a gay dating site with that M.O.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | January 13, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have a hockey organization specifically for women interested in the team, so I don't see a problem with an individual or individuals creating a blog with a perspective that isn't represented. If you applied your train of thought, is it then absurd for black people to print magazines that address topics that might be more of interest to other black people? For the record, I don't recall them saying that it would be a gay dating site for guys interested in the Capitals and hockey. You're basically saying that gay guys can't appreciate hockey if all the guys looked like Malkin. No offense, but I imagine no matter how pretty Crosby is, they would probably still think he's a wanker.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 13, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Say what you want about gays in hockey, or in blogging about hockey (and you all do, and it's generally been respectful - love that). But the blog in question is funny, just plain funny. It's lighthearted, fun from the perspective of a couple of people who know hockey just enough to be able to write about it intelligently, and made me laugh. Anyone who picks up on Dom Moore's score-ability is OK in my books.

Posted by: taradfoss | January 14, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Call me closed-minded, but it is something I've always felt that way about. To reference an oft-quoted line in homosexuality debates,

"It is simply the way I was born".

Posted by: philarmy | January 13, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse


To reference an oft-quoted line from the right in homosexuality debates,

"Keep it to yourself, shut up, and get over it."

Posted by: ModestProposal

@modestproposal

Exactly! deal with it! Plenty of stuff i don't like but I deal with it b/c my personal preferences or dislikes don't dictate how others should have to act.

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

i'm sorry i'm so late on this, but philarmy (and anyone else who thinks he's right) REALLY needs to read some of the articles about brendan burke's coming out (and tragic death), and the response from his father (the legendary brian burke, aka GM of the leafs and of last year's USA olympic team). not everyone in and around the NHL is as bigoted as you are. RIP burkie. http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/201101/brian-burke-nhl-gay-players-athletes

Posted by: rubyx4soho | January 17, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company