Michael Sam will always be the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team. ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, replayed Sam getting the call from the St. Louis Rams — a video that includes tons of emotion and a peck to his boyfriend:
Naturally, gay panic ensued on Twitter. Because men who have nothing else to do on Saturday afternoon other than watch the final rounds of the NFL Draft live and Tweet about it, were forced to watch two men kiss. Oh, and lots of them were watching it with their children. THE HORROR!
From what I can understand, there are five different kinds of Michael Sam Tweeters:
1. The “who cares if he’s gay? Just play football” people:
Why is ESPN talking about Michael Sam?!?! Im sorry you never talked about him until he came out that he was gay. WHO CARES IF HE’S GAY!!!
— Joseph Gremore (@Sir_Gremore12) May 11, 2014
2. The “let’s make jokes that refer to gay sex” people:
The Spurs have been giving it to the Blazers harder than Michael Sam is giving it to his boyfriend tonight after getting drafted by Rams.
— Skip Bayless (@FunSkipBayless) May 11, 2014
3. The “let’s use Michael Sam as a reason to hate Obama” people:
Obama called Michael Sam a hero, but if you lose your leg in Iraq, you’re not a hero and good luck finding a job when you get home.
— Nick Ambrosetti (@amBROheddy) May 10, 2014
4. The “thanks for making me explain that to my children” people:
— Pitcherbro (@Pitcherbro) May 11, 2014
5. Athletes who should have refrained from getting on twitter:
Like the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones.
Let’s tackle them one at a time:
1. It’s a big deal that Sam is openly gay. When a minority group gains entrée into any institution deemed — whether through law or culture — unsuitable for them, it means something because it symbolizes that roads are opening that were previously closed.
2. Gay sex jokes are homophobic. Tweeting gay sex jokes about Sam and football is not only immature, it’s offensive to gay people. It belittles our relationships and sexual encounters. Besides, why is it hypermasculine, straight men that seem to be so obsessed with gay sex?
3. Not every single thing that happens in the world is Obama’s fault. I’m sure he didn’t have a hand in making Sam gay or having him drafted in the NFL.
4. The kids are all-right. Your kids saw two men kissing, so now what do you do? You say, “Aww, look those guys are in love.” Or you say, “He loves that boy like I love Mommy.” Or you say anything remotely positive about love. This isn’t rocket science.
Also, why do parents think their kids don’t know about gay people? Radio hosts talk about gay people on Kids Place Live all the time. My sons have gone to school with multiple families with two moms or two dads. Bring your kids around a diversity of people. Believe me, they will be better for it.
In my house, it would have been way more difficult to explain football – the rules, the point, anything – than it would be to explain why someone kissed his boyfriend. That seems obvious. I’m sure your kid will get it too.
5. The Dolphins need to have the level of absurd masculinity checked. After fellow players taunted Jonathan Martin with racist and homophobic slurs in a hypermasculine display of lockerroom bullying, forcing Jones to undergo sensitivity training seems logical.
Of course, there are tons and tons of people out there having normal reactions. They are excited for an openly gay player to have the opportunity to play professional football in the NFL; that it matters for him, for closeted players who came before him, and for youth who are aspiring to one day play at that level. They are congratulating Michael Sam, as they should be.
This post is part of an on-going series by Sports Butch, a diehard fan of the Indianapolis sports, especially the Colts and Pacers. But not the Speedway. Anything but that.
UPDATE: A letter from Stuff Queer People Need To Know was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer in response to a sports column on Jones’s response to the Sam kiss.
[twitter-follow screen_name=’queerknowledge’ show_count=’yes’]