Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
This week in his advice column for The Washington Post, Steven Petrow took on questions regarding Michael Sam’s coming out.
An anonymous reader wrote in to Petrow’s column inquiring as to why Michael Sam needed to come out publicly in the first place:
“Why does anyone like Michael Sam have to announce that they’re gay anymore? I’m a straight man and I have no opinion at all on whether or not a gay football player should be drafted — I only have opinions on whether good players get drafted. But if I say I don’t care about Michael Sam, people accuse me of being homophobic. I’m not. I honestly don’t care that he’s gay. But I don’t want to watch his news conferences, I don’t want to celebrate his being gay, I just want to watch football. So why do people still think it’s so important to parade their sexuality around?”
Petrow reminded the reader that while the LGBT and allied community looks forward to a day in which there is no longer a need for one to come out, that day is not here. Indeed, Michael Sam’s coming out is a courageous step forward for the LGBT community and sends a powerful message to LGBT youth who struggle to live openly and authentically.
“On the Facebook page of the University of Missouri, Sam’s alma mater, a dad posted about his teenage son: “When Michael Sam was finally drafted my 15-year-old son started crying and told me he was gay. He said he didn’t want to hide anymore or be embarrassed about who he was.” On my own Facebook page, I read similar stories. Daniel Kort, 19, commented: “When Michael Sam came out — and then was drafted — I felt even more proud to be gay because he has played an important role in encouraging acceptance and celebration of his identity. He has really shown me that even though he is gay, any career is possible.”
The truth is that, even as the marriage equality and gay rights movements steam ahead, coming out remains fraught in our society. Sam was slammed by some, first for saying he’s gay and then for his now famous kiss with his boyfriend. Former Super Bowl champion Derrick Ward tweeted about the kiss, “I’m sorry but that Michael Sam is no bueno for doing that on national tv.” Amy Kushnir, co-host of a Dallas morning television show, said on-air, “I don’t call it a moment of celebration,” before walking off the set. What’s the message to young people considering opening their closet doors? The message is that they often do so at their peril.”
Continue to read Petrow’s column, Civilities, on The Washington Post.