1) You don’t get to have it both ways. You can tell me that your sexuality is nobody’s business — what you do in your bedroom is between you and whoever you do it with — and I’ll agree. I’ve never taken it upon myself to approach a group of strangers and survey them about their carnal propensities. In my life, I’ve probably had thousands of conversations with thousands of different people. Of those thousands, I can safely say that not once have I begun the exchange by saying, “Hello, my name is Matt. Do you sleep with people of the same gender?”
Seriously, that’s never happened. OK, maybe I can’t say never, but rarely. The point is, I usually don’t grab strangers by their shirt collars and demand that they paint me a vivid portrait of their erotic activities.
Your sexuality is none of my business, right? Yes. Fine. Sounds good to me.
But this “none of my business” shtick is a two way street, friend. What exactly does it mean for a thing to be “none of my business” when you’re holding a press conference and proclaiming it to the entire world?
“Hey, this is personal, man. That’s why I’m throwing a parade, alerting the media, issuing a press release, having t-shirts printed, and booking an interview on 20/20.”
Personal business. You keep using that phrase. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Michael Sam, apparently, ‘came out’ to his teammates a year ago. By all accounts, they took it well, nobody really cared, and everything continued on as normal. Sam wasn’t hiding in fear and he wasn’t being forced to suppress or disguise anything. But then, mere months before the draft, he decided to declare himself to ESPN and the New York Times.
I remember seeing this headline back in February: “Michael Sam Announces He’s Gay”
My first thought: OK, was anybody asking?
The man pursued national media outlets and, without being provoked or solicited, ‘announced’ his sexual desires to the nation. Why? Because it’s none of our business? Because we should feel nothing and have no opinion on the matter?
No, of course not. We are supposed to feel something, and we are supposed to have an opinion, but they must be the right feelings and the right opinions.
That’s the point here.
If you simply wish to be accepted, perhaps you’d discuss these private details with those closest to you. If you wish to be celebrated, you throw yourself a party and call the press.
Michael Sam chose the latter.
2) I don’t know Michael Sam. I know more about Michael Sam than I need to, but I don’t know him as a man. He might be brave, for all I know. Maybe he’s rescued kittens from burning buildings, maybe he’s jumped in front of bullets. I’m not saying that he’s not a hero, but I am saying that telling the world about his sex life sure doesn’t make him one. Ellen Page, Jason Collins, Michael Sam — all of these people were greeted by applause and adulation from all across the country. They were hoisted up and canonized by pop culture, most of mainstream society, most major corporations, most of the media, most of academia, most of our politicians, and the President of the United States of America. Their ‘announcements’ instantly ensured them a protected status and, particularly in the case of Collins and Sam, a fame and cultural relevance they would not have otherwise achieved. The criticisms will come from the fringes, and those critics will be drowned out and beaten back by a shouting, venomous mob of dogmatic progressive zealots.
Liberal blogs made much ado about the few random Tweets they could find from people expressing disgust about Sam kissing his boyfriend. What these instigators won’t mention is that, in order to get to the ‘bad people,’ they had to wade through thousands of Twitter users falling over themselves in a competition to see who could use the most glowing adjectives to describe watching two men smooch on Sportscenter.
There’s nothing brave about any of this. You can’t measure a man’s bravery by his ability to endure high-fives and congratulations from millions of fawning fans.
To call this heroic is to obliterate the meaning of the word. I’m sure Sam will hear some taunts and jeers, but the people taunting and jeering will be swiftly and immediately punished. He also won’t encounter anywhere near the level of accepted mockery and derision that another well known football player faced, which brings us to…
3) Plenty of people have already said it, but it’s true that many of the Michael Sam cheerleaders are hypocrites of the lowest sort. Say what you will about Tim Tebow; one thing you can’t deny is that the dude was told loudly, harshly, and frequently, to ‘keep his religion to himself.’ Football isn’t a place for religion, they said.
But football is a place for sexual identity discussions?
Other current and former NFL players, like Jake Plummer, said they wished Tebow would “shut up” with the Jesus talk. Plummer was never chastised for making those statements, and no player was ever fined for complaining about Tebow’s overt religiosity. Most people just nodded their head in agreement.
Will players who tell Sam to “shut up” with the gay talk be treated as leniently? I guess that question has already been answered. One Miami Dolphin sent out a two word disparaging Tweet when ESPN spent 26 hours airing footage of the now famous same-sex kiss. The offender has since been fined and banned from the team until he undergoes ‘educational training.’ Ex-NFLer Derrick Ward expressed his view that ESPN shouldn’t have aired the kiss, and now people are threatening to kill him because of it.
The double standard is so obvious, so inevitable, and so common that I’m bored with pointing it out. Tell Tebow to stop praising his Lord and Savior, and the country will laugh and cheer along, but tell Sam to stop trying to turn his sex life into international headlines, and you’ll be bound, gagged, and tossed into a river.
4) Media hacks have already begun conjuring up a controversy over the fact that it ‘took so long’ for Sam to be drafted.
They’re furrowing their brows and inquiring as to why Saint Michael Sam didn’t get taken off the board until the very end of the last round. Could it be homophobia, they wonder?
Perhaps, or could it be that Sam is a small, slow, middling prospect who might not be good enough to even make the squad? Could it be that he’s exactly the type of player who often goes undrafted every single year? Could it be that he’s a below average talent?
With that said, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if some teams were scared away by the media circus that follows him. That’s a funny thing about football teams — they’re worried about winning football games, not becoming champions for liberal social change. Michael Sam chose to call attention to his sex life. He chose to whip up a media frenzy. That choice guaranteed him a spot on a roster, if only for political reasons. But it also guaranteed that he would be a distraction to whatever team he ultimately joined.
This is all a joke, only it’s not even funny anymore.
As I type this, I see that Michael Sam has already started starring in ads, making him, I’m assuming, the first 7th round pick to ever get an endorsement deal before training camp even starts.
In the Visa spot, Sam insists that he only wants to be judged for what he does on the field.
A fine sentiment, but one that would have been easily accomplished had he not gone to great lengths to be applauded for what he does in the bedroom.