Openly gay pro athletes are inevitable. I will say with absolute certainty that there are homosexuals in every major American professional sport.
Every. Single. One.
The day when we have one (or multiple) openly gay athletes in every major American professional sport isn’t a matter of if it’s going to happen, but when.
Well, that question has been answered for the NFL. That’s assuming Michael Sam gets drafted, which ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper predicts should happen around the third round of this year’s NFL draft. Which would make Sam the first openly gay NFL athlete.
The interesting part to this is going to be how this impacts where he’s drafted. Will teams pass on him because he’s openly gay? I absolutely think some will. Not so much because he’s a homosexual, but because NFL teams aren’t sure what kind of impact an openly gay player will have inside the locker room.
Just look at how former head coach Herm Edwards reacted to the news last night on ESPN. He actually compared Sam to a “player with off the field issues […] bringing baggage into your locker room.”
“All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft.”
Personally, I applaud his bravery. Especially doing it now, before the draft. He could have easily waited until he was in the NFL to come out, but he chose to do it beforehand.
But I think it goes without saying since his announcement there have been plenty of disgusting and hateful messages. Go to any story covering this announcement (probably including this one if enough people read it) and you’ll be inundated with the typical “God hates gays” and “Homosexuality is an abomination” rhetoric you get from people who oppose homosexuality.
You’ll see a lot of other disgusting comments as well, but I refuse to give those kinds of comments any attention because they’re truly vile. Anytime homosexuality is the topic, it brings out some of the most ignorant cowards imaginable.
Though it wasn’t just the people who oppose homosexuality that posted disrespectful comments, there were plenty of people who were very dismissive of this news.
And yes, this is news.
There were plenty of “Who cares?” or “Why is this a story, no one should care if he’s gay” comments that simply minimized the importance of Michael Sam coming out.
Look, I agree that someone’s sexual orientation shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. I too look forward to the day that someone being openly gay isn’t a story that makes headlines. But we’re not there yet. As a probable future NFL athlete, Michael Sam coming out is still a big deal.
This paves the way for other pro athletes in the four major American professional sports leagues to come out. So for people to be dismissive of this news is extremely small-minded on their part.
Sure, they’re right in their feeling that someone’s sexual orientation shouldn’t be “news.” But they’re ignoring the reality that gay rights are still very much an issue and this is just another major step toward even more mainstream acceptance of homosexuality.
I still remember when Ellen DeGeneres came out in the 90’s on her show. That was huge news. Now days a sitcom having a gay character isn’t a big deal at all. Heck, we have gay actors and actresses playing straight characters.
On the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris isn’t only openly gay – he plays a womanizing man-whore character on the show.
My point being, it all has to start somewhere.
While homosexuality is much more accepted today than it was even 5 or 10 years ago, it still has a long way to go. Major American professional sports still remain a big hurdle for the LGBT community. A hurdle Michael Sam will help eliminate.
When it comes to gay rights, there’s always going to be those who have the stereotypical ignorant “gays are bad” rhetoric. There’s really nothing we can do about that. Look at racism. The Civil War was fought in the 1860’s. It then took us nearly 100 more years to end segregation. And even now racism still remains a real issue in this country.
And unfortunately, homosexuals face similar ignorance. Ignorance that is often not overcome by brut force, but time.
Time and individuals such as Michael Sam. People who aren’t afraid to tear down walls.
It’s stories such as this that need to be reported, not dismissed. Not because Michael Sam’s sexual orientation is anyone’s business, but because he’s decided to take a stand against ignorance. He decided to do what no other active NFL athlete has done before. Because he stands there, a man who plays one of the most brutal sports on the planet, and says he won’t be beholden to stereotypes about what a pro football player can or can’t be.
But most importantly, because he came out to be himself. In the face of uncertainty, with his dream within his reach, he said to the world enough is enough and it’s time we break down another wall for gay rights.
And if you want to dismiss that because you don’t believe “coming out” should be a news story, that’s fine. Those who do are free to feel how they feel, even if I happen to believing being dismissive of this story is ignorant.
I, however, choose to applaud Michael Sam because his courage to come out is one step closer to the day when “coming out” isn’t news. The fight for true equality for homosexuals is still a process and this is just one more part to that process.