NFL player, Michael Sam, covers OUT Magazine’s August issue. Allow me to start off by saying that this was one of the best articles I’ve read in quite some time, not because of its subject, but because it was so well-written. While the writing style, at times, was a tad flowery for my taste, there’s no denying the descriptive power employed by writer, Christopher Glazek. Ok, end of digression.
In the article, Glazek describes the aloof, almost impenetrable, demeanour that Michael Sam adopted at the beginning of their interview, until he realised that, like himself, Glazek was gay. Quite a few people are criticizing this attitude, saying that (1) treating a straight interviewer that way without knowing them is just as much an example of discrimination as if a straight athlete had done it to a gay journalist, and (2) not first figuring out that a writer of a national gay publication might be gay was just plain ridiculous. Truly, on neither of these points are they wrong, but I can’t condemn Michael Sam for this. He later explained his behaviour, saying, “I’m sorry about before — I just thought you were some reporter after a story. Some of those guys are vultures.” Considering Michael Sam’s unique position – not at the fact that he’s an openly gay athlete per se, but that he’s an openly gay athlete in football, receiving this thunderstorm of media scrutiny – it really isn’t hard to understand his reluctance to open up to reporters. We, on the outside, may not realise it fully, but there’s no telling the intensity and ferocity with which journalists usually approach him, especially if they’re digging for a sensational angle to sell more copies of their publications. It’s no wonder that Sam keeps himself so guarded and defensive in the face of media inspection.
Later on, he discusses his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, with whom he shared the kiss on ESPN that sent the anti-gay trolls into a state of sexually-confused outrage. He speaks about how they first met, and how it was Vito who gave him the courage to come out. In case you didn’t know, there’s also a shit-ton of negativity within the gay community itself, with regards to the fact that Michael Sam is dating a white guy. Apparently, this somehow makes him less of a “real black man”; as you can probably tell, these
jealous tirades criticisms are solely predominantly levelled by other African Americans. I, personally, see nothing wrong with the relationship, but, then again, I’m not a self-righteous moron. Michael Sam is an exceedingly hot piece of ass good-looking guy, so it’s no surprise that he’s able to attract whomever he damn-well pleases, even if that person happens to be white. If, at this point in 2014, we’re still taking up issue with an interracial couple, how the hell can we be so surprised/frustrated that homophobia is still so rampant?
For me, the most prominent part of the article wasn’t even anything that Michael Sam revealed. Rather, I was very pleased that Christopher Glazek mentioned something that I’ve been thinking ever since Michael Sam was drafted, and that is the fact that Sam is undeniably under far more pressure than the majority – if not all – of his heterosexual counterparts. Not only does he feel that he has to prove a point to all the homophobes out there who refuse to accept that gays can do anything besides design an Oscar gown, he’s sort of unwittingly become the hero to thousands (perhaps millions) of gays who are just dying for someone to prove this same point. I mean, geez, that’s no way for someone to live, especially when this person just wants to play their favourite sport. Despite the distance between these two polar extremes, there don’t seem to be very many people who are standing somewhere in the middle, saying that Michael Sam should be eased up on. While, yes, I understand that having someone who can indeed show that an openly gay player is just as competent in the NFL than any heterosexual, Michael Sam is still only human, and he should be allowed to succeed or fail on his own terms, without it becoming a socio-political tipping point.