A couple months ago, when Michael Sam publicly came out, there were all kinds of theories about how this would affect his future. The consensus was this: Coming out was “controversial,” and it clearly indicated that Sam was desperate for publicity. It showed that he was selfish, determined to break a barrier just for the sake of doing so, and may have “conveniently” waited to make such an announcement at the last minute before the NFL Draft.
Those sentiments were offensive and ridiculous then, and they’re ever more ridiculous now. Though Michael Sam wasn’t anyone’s first-round draft pick, he did get selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. The team’s coach had nothing much to say on the matter, other than how happy he was to add Sam’s talent and commitment to hard work to the organization.
And that’s how it should be. No one questions whether or not the heterosexuality of professional sports players will negatively or positively impact their talents on the field or the nature of their presence in the locker room. It should be the same with openly gay players. They’re equally talented, if not more so. And no one really thinks that their presence in a locker room is going to be awkward, predatory, or offensive. I mean, really.
And so, I think it was a proud moment for America when Michael Sam received his draft selection phone call as the first openly gay player in the NFL, kissed his boyfriend, and celebrated the news as anyone else in the world would have. Progress is accelerating so quickly on this issue — and I’m proud of my “Millennial” generation for persistently stepping on the gas pedal.