What? Can this mysterious title fill of international intrigue be true? The answer is a definite yes. Today Marek Bute is an openly gay man, a partner with the commercial litigation group of the prestigious law firm, Snell & Wilmer where he was part of the pro bono legal team that successfully argued against Nevada’s gay marriage ban. Located in the firm’s Las Vegas office, Bute accepted the 2015 Corporate Diversity Partner Award awarded last month to Snell & Wilmer.

But back to the international intrigue. Bute was born in Poland in 1979 into a sports family, a time just prior to the authoritarian communist government declaring mar- tial law to crush political opposition. His father Richard was a Polish professional soccer goalkeeper. So in 1982, just before Marek’s third birthday, his father came to the U.S. on a temporary work visa intending to establish a new life for his family in the states to escape Communist oppression. Starting in the Polish neighborhoods of Chi- cago, he eventually was picked up by the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Hartford Hellions, which later moved and became the Memphis Americans.

During this time Marek’s mother Viola remained in Poland, caring for her two sons, Maciej and Marek. And in a year or so, she was able to secure a passport and visa. But the Polish government refused to allow Marek and his older brother to go with her. In a calculated attempt to get Richard to return, the Polish authorities used the boys as collateral. Seeing it as her last chance to get out of Poland, the rest of the family urged Viola to go, saying they’d figure out a way to get the boys to the U.S., even if it came down to smuggling them through another country and out by boat. And almost immediately following his mother’s leav- ing, martial law was declared. It took another year and the help of U.S. officials to finally get the family reunited.

Assuming it was just a matter of money, the city of Memphis even started a fundraiser to “buy” the boys free- dom. Eventually, the boys’ grandmother escorted them from Poland and Marek recalls they were given a welcome reception “fit for a king.” Memphis became the family’s home and they have ever since devoted themselves to giv- ing back to the community that worked so hard to unite them. Richard has been a dedicated coach for youth soc- cer throughout the south; he’s been a coach for Tennesee State, an Olympic development coach for Region III, run the Richard Bute Soc- cer Camps in the sum- mer and started the two top soccer clubs in western Tennessee that have now merged into Mid-South FC where he serves as executive director.

When it came time for college, Marek, the musical theatre kid from Memphis graduated from the Malibu campus of Pepperdine University with a degree in advertising and a minor in Spanish. Far from being an attorney, however, Marek’s dream was making it in show business. However, one law class and a need for time to discover himself and his sexual ori- entation led him to Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island. Performance for him, turned out to be in the courtroom instead of on the stage. But how would his coming out be accepted by his dad, whose life has been wrapped up in sports?

It turns out that when Marek finally came out to his dad while in law school, he wasn’t expecting his reaction, say- ing that it wasn’t until his dad talked the logic of numbers, of kids he’s coached over his 30 years that were LGBT, that it made sense. “Ah, the dots were connected. The entire time I was worried about how my dad would handle my news, he had been training (unbeknownst to him) on how to deal with this moment. He handled the moment with absolute grace and unconditional love. I couldn’t have asked for a better coming out with my family. And curi- ously, I have sports to thank for that.”

And so Marek Bute, who now specializes in sports and entertainment law, says that “I accept this Diversity Award on behalf of the firm, but dedicate it to my father, Coach Bute, and all the coaches out there that may have know- ingly or unknowingly provided the strength and support for LGBT youth to embrace their true selves and to share that with their friends and family.”


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