Let me set the scene for you. You’re a big time NFL player playing on a 53-man roster of equals. You’re in the shower with all your teammates, but then, in walks the gay teammate. What would you do?
This is the scenario that will play out the moment Michael Sam becomes a member of an NFL Team. Although many a player has come out in support of Sam, many other players have also expressed their discomfort. Jonathan Vilma, Linebacker for the Saints was one of the first to come out and express his discomfort. “I don’t want people to just naturally assume, like, ‘Oh, we’re all homophobic.’ That’s really not the case. Imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. “How am I supposed to respond?”
The thing that stands out the most to me is not Vilma, nor any other players’ personal discomforts with this scenario, it’s this confusing clarification of, “I’m not a homophobe, but…” But what? This always leads to some sort of ignorant homophobic belief, which in short answers the but by saying some sort of variation of, I don’t like gays or am uncomfortable with them. Whether it be with Vilma’s expression of discomfort about being around a gay man in the locker room, or even in normal life when someone says that they are for gay marriage, but they should just keep it to themselves, why? These people are just as big a problem as the obnoxious bigots we often see protesting on television. It’s taking a stand without any backbone.
These people are “for” gay marriage, but yet would still cringe at the sight of a gay couple walking down the street holding hands. While the sight of a heterosexual couple provokes nothing in them. The classic example of a double standard, one lifestyle (homosexual) is on a level below the other (heterosexual).
So this brief detour into the ever-continuing struggle of LGBT rights brings us back to the current story of the first openly (keyword openly, there has been some before) gay football player, Michael Sam. There is this idea that straight men are uncontrollable horn-dogs who are attracted to every woman they see, so in turn a gay man would be attracted to every man he sees. This creates the imaginary anxiety that in this case Sam, would be unable to control himself in a situation where he has to shower and dress around other men.
Michael Sam came out to his University of Missouri teammates before this past season started in August. The University of Missouri responded with its best record since 2007 at 12-2 and won their first Bowl Game (Cotton Bowl) since 2011. The idea that a gay player can destroy the chemistry of a team is nonsense. If the chemistry of a team breaks for that reason, then the team was brittle to begin with. While Sam will be trying to get through blockers in the NFL, he will, like all LGBT supporters, be trying to break through the blanket of ignorance that consumes a large part of our great nation and the world abound. As I’ve stated in my previous article, the league is already filled with morally-corrupt men, so not embracing a man with good morals just because he is gay is foolish. To only embrace certain parts of the gay culture, doesn’t exempt you from being a homophobe, it only continues to belittle the way the gay community is about. Embracing the entirety of the community is what can finally break you through the barrier of ignorance.