Thanks to Michael Sam and other pioneers, emotions, relationships no longer are closeted
May 12, 2014 at 1:18p ET
During the NFL Draft, plenty of young men kissed and shared PDAs with their significant others or wives.
There was no talk, no debate of heterosexuals sharing love and emotions with their significant others. However, seeing Michael Sam kiss his boyfriend Vito -- a proud black gay man kissing his Caucasian boyfriend -- makes some people uncomfortable.
Michael Sam is a person who has been through the trials and tribulations of coming out, first to his college teammates and then the world. The former Missouri star being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round Saturday was a moment they shared, something that has never happened and right then and there they deserve to share that special moment together. America witnessed it.
What America -- and everywhere else -- doesn’t need is reactions like that of Ole Miss basketball player Marshall Henderson (though Henderson claims his words were only an "experiment"). Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, failure to understand how monumental the draft choice and subsequent kiss is becomes foolhardy on many levels.
Millions of people have had to hide over the years -- whether moments of great triumph or failure. In life, there's nothing better than having your significant other there for you during a critical event.
This is something that America needs to see and be aware of … it is reality. This happens. It isn’t “Modern Family.” This is a real-life scenario happening in real time right before our eyes.
A couple months ago Chris Kluwe and I spoke with Esera Tuaolo on an Unconventional Wisdom podcast. Tuaolo, who played for many years in the NFL, mentioned the most difficult aspect of being a gay professional athlete was not having your love there for you. When all the other players would kiss and hug their wives after the games, Esera had to contain his love and emotion until he was alone with his boyfriend. He had to hide his relationship because America simply was not ready and he feared what people would say to him and how people would treat him. He could have also potentially lost his job.
Well, let me tell you: America's ready. Our LGBT brothers and sisters, specifically Michael Sam, Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, and Derrick Gordon are no longer going to hide who they are. They are not scared, and America has no choice but to be ready for reality.
From President Obama staunchly supporting gay rights to our favorite sports video game maker EA incorporating same-sex couples into their video games, the time is right for us to all live our truths. We talk about the last bastions of homophobia and we talk about living in the closet. For LGBT people there is no such thing as a closet. A closet is where monsters dwell, where old shoes reside and where you store your unsightly objects.
The LGBT community wants to live its truth and now more than ever it wants to live it the same way as heterosexuals … without shame. Closets only exist because the heterosexual population creates them. Individuals like Marshall Henderson and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling want us to be ashamed for who we are.
There is no room in sport for this type of behavior. Just as we have shunned Sterling, the same needs to be done for homophobic behavior and language.