When I initially read this trending story on Facebook and Twitter the other night, I felt an immediate juxtaposing sense of deep support for his courageous actions and equal dispiritment given the institutionalize homophobic culture within the realm of sports [and the rest of the world.] Like so many other members of the LGBT community, Michael Sam's declaration of his sexual orientation is an act of living an authentic, proud, happy and free life. As a human being, EVERYONE should have the sense of security, support and safety to do just that. With that said, my sentiments of dismay extend from the actual act or culture of "coming out."
In our society now, we routinely pride ourselves on living in a world that's inclusive, progressive and allows "all men to be created equal." And yet, if we take a step back to look beyond the surface of this ideological utopian society and think about the fact that, if this were a TRULY equitable society, "coming out" would no longer be required. "Why?!," do you ask? I say this because heterosexuality would not be the "standard" or THE "universally" recognized sexual orientation. All genders and all sexual orientations would be the norm in the society that so many of us believe we currently live in. To be truly progressive and inclusive, one must create a space and structural environment where every culture, every identity, every experience is supported and equitably represented. Moreover, with the obscene, blatantly homophobic and disgusting comments that Michael Sam has received from other NFL players on Twitter and other social media outlets, it glaringly substantiates the fact that our society uplifts and institutionalizes heterosexuality, while dehumanizing other sexual orientations.
While reading some of the comments posted on Twitter in an article from Huffington Post-Gay Voices, one comment in particular stood out to me the most. This comment posted below states "I'm sorry but there's is no room for Jason Collins & Michael Sam playing a man sport ain't sh*t manly bout being a fag— Julius Caesar ™ (@DewuanS) February 10, 2014.
Apart from the terrible obscenities, the phrase that stuck with me the most is "...playing a man sport ain't sh*t manly bout being a..." Football and most other sports are associated with being extremely "masculine," "dominant," "take charge," and any other socially constructed characteristic most people have been indoctrinated to believe and view "manhood" is linked with. Being a homosexual man, however is regarded as "anti-manly," "feminine," "submissive," "womanly," etc. TRANSLATION: Being a gay man is the equivalent to being a woman...DEEPER TRANSLATION: women are viewed as "weak," "less than," "objects" and simply alive to be at the disposal of men! Other disgusting comments made from an overwhelming number of African-American NFL players focused solely about the assumed sexual acts of Michael Sam, specifically those customarily tied to gay men. This highly heterosexist commentary furthers the point that gay men are viewed on the subhuman and "anti-man/anti-powerful" level that women are as well.
Michael Sam, Jason Collins and many other gay male athletes are no less that heterosexual men in any regard. Gay men ARE MEN and to reduce someone down to their sexuality without recognizing and acknowledging them as fully human is simply oppressive and archaic! This same mentality is identical to the extreme racist views that once argued that people of direct African descent had smaller brains and were severely, as well as innately less intelligent, were "uncivilized," naturally unclean and would always be biologically inferior to Europeans/Whites. Not overlooking the parallel chauvinistic views that were and are unfortunately still in existence about women, this same ethos and verbal oppression regarded women as incapable of being effective in professional settings, being naturally "weaker" than men, only being "designed" to fulfill domestic duties and being less intelligent than their male counterparts. You see, at the heart of sexism, racism and homophobia lies the same ugly three-headed beast: fear born out of ignorance, oppression and a false sense of entitlement.
Some may argue that these NFL players and others that make homophobic and all in all hurtful comments about Michael Sam's sexual orientation are simply "exercising their First Amendment Rights" and should be allowed to express themselves freely." Now isn't that contradictory?! Shouldn't Michael Sam, Jason Collins and other human beings be able to freely express exactly who they are without the threat of being harmed, alienated and oppressed?! Shouldn't gay men be respected as human men and not viewed as less than? What will it take for our society to shift this irrational fear about homosexuality and UNLEARN all the damaging socially constructed concepts about what "makes a man a man" or "makes a woman a woman?"
Share your thoughts and seriously reflect on your own belief system in the areas of gender roles, sexual orientation, identity and how you overtly or unconsciously subjugate members "outside" of your community!