On May 10, Michael Sam made history when he became the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL. He then did what any of us would do when achieving our life’s dream: he kissed the one he loves and made history again by kissing his boyfriend during a live video feed on ESPN.
Since then, there has been a lot of debate about this “controversial” kiss. Conservatives, predictably, have complained about having Sam’s sexuality “shoved down their throat,” or “having to explain it to their kids,” or “not wanting to see that.”
Fortunately, the pushback from those of us who don’t want to live in the 1950s has been more than enough to show the bigots for who they are. But there have been some responses from LGBT-supportive people that have been surprising and somewhat disappointing.
Scattered throughout the online debates and comments were sentiments like “I don’t care who NFL players sleep with” or “what’s the big deal?”
Although comments like these are not at all hostile and, for the most part, are TRYING to be supportive, they show that far too many people out there are still missing the point about LGBT people.
First of all, it’s not about whom we sleep with; it’s about whom we LOVE. Granted, there are lots of one night stands going on in the gay community but reducing gay people to just a sex act demeans us as human beings.
Being gay is deeper than sex. It’s about whom we fall in love with, build a life with, grow old with. In other words, we’re just like every other human on the planet.
And why is this a big deal? Because it’s a first. Because Michael Sam is a pioneer, blazing a trail for future and current NFL players to follow to live and love openly and honestly.
And it’s a big deal for the gay kids currently playing football in college or high school or pee wee leagues. Now, they have a model to look to. Now they know that their sexual orientation doesn’t have to hold them back from attaining their dreams. And now they know that there will be many someones who will have their back when they decide to come out.
On one day in May 2014, Michael Sam made history twice. In doing so, he sparked a conversation that will move the LGBT equality ball farther down the field than he or we could have ever imagined.