My cell phone rang earlier this evening, but I didn’t recognize the 617 area code, and I was getting my kids out of the car, and … I didn’t pick it up.
Only an hour or so later, when I had time, did I listen to the message: Hey Jeff, Steve Buckley up in Boston. Give me a call if you have a chance.
For those of you who haven’t had the fortune of reading him, Buckley is a Boston Herald sports columnists and, for my money, one of the best in the business. I can also speak personally of the character of the man: Fifteen years ago, when I was a junior at the University of Delaware looking for summer internships, I applied to Boston Magazine, where Steve worked at the time. One day, in a sea of rejection form letters, I received a large manila envelope. It was from Boston Magazine and, specifically, Buckley. He typed a four-page letter, critiquing each of my 12 or so clips. At the end, he wrote a sentence that had me floating above the carpet: “I’ve got a hunch you’re gonna be a player in his game.”
Anyhow, Steve also included a couple of his stories. One was a profile of a long-deceased soldier named Stanley Teevin. All these years later, I still consider it the best thing I’ve ever read, and even spent a class this past semester going over it graph by graph with my Manhattanville College students.
So, yeah. Through the years Steve and I have kept on-and-off contact. I’ve seen him once or twice at events, talked via phone or e-mail every so often. He’s always been a great guy—someone I genuinely have only good things to say of.
I digress. I called Steve back tonight, expecting him to ask something about the Hall of Fame or New York blah … blah … blah. “Well, Jeff,” he said. “I’m calling about 30 or so people in the business who mean something to me. I want to let you know that the Herald is running a column tomorrow where I say that I’m gay.”
I’m not sure what Steve expected me to say. Or whether he was nervous. But I hope my reaction mirrored everyone else’s: Congratulations!
To say I am proud of Steve Buckley is to wallow in terrible understatement. I am, frankly, thrilled for him. for the sense of relief. For the liberation. For finally feeling comfortable enough to step up. Even though we live in increasingly accepting times, this wasn’t an easy thing to do. It took courage and self confidence and—most of all, I’m guessing—support.
I support Steve Buckley 100 percent.
I hope you do, too.