(This is an open letter to the homophobic people in my life and in my family. I realize you probably don’t want or mean to be homophobic, so please read this to try to educate yourself. I would love to discuss it further with anyone, provided you bring an open mind)
I still believe that many straight people don’t consider themselves homophobic, and they don’t actively try to be assholes. However, many of these same straight people are the ones up in arms over ESPN’s coverage of Michael Sam being drafted to the St. Louis Rams. Just look at some of these terrible reactions.
Granted, that’s Twitter and people do actively try to be assholes on Twitter. But I also heard several conversations about it from people close to me, including my family. One person wondered why ESPN needed to “push the envelope” and “push an agenda.”
Then they always add, “just play football and who cares” – as if that excuses their homophobia.
But here’s the thing. ESPN’s coverage wasn’t for you. You don’t have to care. Just because you don’t think it’s a big deal doesn’t mean that it isn’t a big deal to someone else.
This moment wasn’t for straight people. This moment was for the young football player currently struggling with his sexuality, wondering if he will have to quit playing because he’s gay. Michael Sam is helping prove to these young kids that they don’t have to choose. They can be happy with a boyfriend and still get drafted to the NFL.
And ESPN proved that we don’t have to hide it anymore. The worst part of living in the closet is hiding who you truly are. And even people who are openly gay still have to face the pressure to hide their relationship, because straight people might be squeamish about it. But it’s about damn time we stop hiding it.
We are here, and we exist. If you can walk down the street holding hands with your girlfriend. I’m going to walk down the street and hold hands with my boyfriend. If a straight football player can kiss his girlfriend in celebration, then a gay football player can kiss his boyfriend.
Keeping it out of sight and away from you straight people who seem to think it’s so disgusting is only perpetuating the dangerous believe that our lives and relationships need to remain hidden and swept under the rug.
But no more.
THAT’S why what ESPN aired is important. Airing Sam’s reaction to his selection wasn’t for you straight people. It was for young gay athletes struggling with their identities. It was a huge deal to gay people around the world. Just because you don’t care, doesn’t mean that it’s not important to a small section of your world.
Even though that group of people may make up a very small minority, it’s extremely important for us. So was it really so bad that you had to watch his reaction a few times on ESPN? It does not affect 90% of the population, but 10% of the population was absolutely elated. Isn’t that worth airing?
You don’t have to care about it, but if this makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to re-evaluate your double-standards.
Equality means treating gay people the same way you treat straight people. If networks air images of players kissing their wives/girlfriends, then equality means that they can show the first openly gay player to ever be drafted to the NFL kissing his boyfriend.
If you don’t understand that, then yes, you are homophobic. I understand that you may not consider yourself to be homophobic and you probably don’t want to be. So in that case, I’d be happy to discuss this further with anyone who wants to chat and hold a productive discussion. Education is key here.
All we really want is to have a productive discussion in hopes that you might actually treat us like you treat everyone else. But if you think that is “pushing an agenda,” then I have no room for you in my life.